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Department of Social Anthropology


Max Cam

The Max Planck Cambridge Centre for Ethics, Economy and Social Change (informally “Max-Cam”), was an innovative collaboration funded jointly by the University of Cambridge and the Max Planck Society. It was formally established as of 1 July 2017. The Centre was a dynamic interdisciplinary research unit at the University of Cambridge based within the Department of Social Anthropology and co-directed by James Laidlaw and Joel Robbins (Department of Social Anthropology, Cambridge University), Chris Hann (Max Planck Institute for Social Anthropology, Halle/Saale), and Peter van der Veer (Max Planck Institute for the Study of Religious and Ethnic Diversity, Göttingen).  It is dedicated to pursuing fresh ethnographic research in fields of urgent concern to humanity today.  The research at the Centre closed at the end of September 2022.

The research themes pursued by individual postdoctoral fellows at the Centre included among others:

  • Ghanaian-led private banks and the social networks between banking institutions and Charismatic Pentecostal churches in West Africa (Anna-Riikka Kauppinen)
  • International venture capital investors and the values and ethics behind their efforts to make a better future (Johannes Lenhard)
  • Values and ethics surrounding guilt and shame, forgiveness and reconciliation, gift and sacrifice in the context of socioeconomic change in Vanuatu (Rachel Smith) 
  • People with intellectual disabilities in situations of social change and economic development in India (Patrick McKearney)
  • The circulation of certain forms of gold coin and jewellery between the Middle East and Europe, particularly Turkey (Sam Williams, Halle)
  • Interconnections between economic modernization in Laos and ethics and values as articulated in funerals and Buddhist ordination rites (Patrice Ladwig, Göttingen)

For more information, visit the Max Cam website.