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Dr Narmala Halstead

Reader in Anthropology;

Anthropology and Contemporary Worlds Research Group, Centre for Social Justice and Change

Narmala is a Reader in anthropology with expertise on migration and diaspora, state, and violence, social change, digital technology and empowerment. She has specialist interests in reflexive methodologies and practce.

    Narmala Halstead is an anthropologist with regional expertise on Guyana, the Caribbean diaspora and migrant localities in New York. She has also conducted research on migrants in London and on Portuguese migrants in Wales, UK.

    Her work intersects on (i) reflexive methodologies, practice and knowledge debates (ii) non-ethnicity, belonging and digital/media-informed transformations (iii) state, violence, citizenship and migration.

    Her research explores migration, belonging, cultural change and violence, spanning everyday accounts as well as larger issues on global citizenship and the state.  She is currently developing a project on cities, digital technologies, citizenship and belonging.

    After completing her PhD (anthropology) at Brunel University, Narmala taught for a year at Brunel and for several years at Cardiff University. She held a university lectureship with Cardiff University.

    Narmala teaches on the anthropology programme and have also taught the MRes module, Understanding Research Processes and Contexts.  She recently convened the MSc Anthropology, Human Rights and Justice programme.

    If you are interested in pursuing an MPhil or PhD on these and related issues and have an enquiry on suitability of your research idea/project and likely supervision, please also get in touch. Narmala would be interested in supervising students wishing to do PhD research on migration and diaspora, belonging, violence, citizenship, nationalism, ethnicity, modernity, media/digital anthropology, human rights, legal anthropology and related issues.

    PhD supervisees:

    Thanges Paramsothy - Caste transformations in Sri Lanka and Diaspora - Director of Studies

    Margaret Apwonyokwe: Acoli groups in Former displacement camps in Northern Uganda - Director of Studies

    Ravjiv Jebodh: Law and post-colonial certainty in the Commonwealth Caribbean - 2nd Supervisor


    PhD Completions:

    • Chuensumon Ukritwiriya - Mobile phones and modernity in Bangkok.

    • Muideen Akorede - Study of a Nigerian village and NGOs in relation to development and local knowledge.

    • Diana Chimba - 'Women, Media and Democracy' in Zambia



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    Book and Journals:

    2008 Knowing how to know. Fieldwork and the ethnographic present. Co-editors, Eric Hirsch and Judith Okely. Berghahn: Oxford (EASA edited volume series)

    Journal of Legal Anthropology - 2008, 2010, 2013

    2008 Special issue on Landscapes of violence. Social Anthropology, 16. Co-edited with Heather Horst

    Articles in Refereed Journals

    2012 East Indians as familiars and partial others in New York. History and Anthropology 23(1): 149-169

    2012 Undoing Resistance. East Indians beyond the culture bound. South Asian Diaspora 10(2):123-135

    2011 Gift practices in the East Indian Diaspora: status, equality and loss through inclusion. Journal of Latin American and Caribbean Anthropology 16(2): 278-295

    2009 A landscape of respect relations. Television, status, houses Home Cultures 6 (1)

    2008 Violence, past and present. 'Mati' and 'non-mati' people. History and Anthropology 19 (2): 115-129

    2008 Victims and agents un-made. Routinising the Extraordinary. Social Anthropology , 16 (1): 119-133

    Chapters in Books

    2017 Relational persons of the home. Intimacy, transgressions and boundary-making. In Sexuality at Home. Brett Pilkey et al, eds. Bloomsbury: London, forthcoming

    2016 Life-writing. Anthropological Knowledge, boundary-making and the experiential. In The Anthropologist as Writer, Helena Wulff, ed. Oxford:Berghahn

    2008 Knowing through crisis. Experiencing the ethnographic present. In Knowing how to Know. Fieldwork and the Ethnographic Present. Narmala Halstead, Eric Hirsch and Judith Okely, eds. Pp.1-20. Oxford: Berghahn

    2008a Knowledge as gifts of self and other. In Knowing how to know. Fieldwork and the Ethnographic Present, N. Halstead, E. Hirsch and J. Okely, eds. Oxford: Berghahn. Pp.92-109

    2006 Others in and of the field.Anthropology and Knowledgeable persons. In Critical Journeys.The Making of Anthropologists. Geert de Neve and Maya Unithan-Kumar, eds. Pp. 47-66. UK: Ashgate Publishing Ltd.

    2005 Belonging and respect notions vis-à-vis modern East Indians. Hindi movies in the Guyanese East Indian Diaspora. In Bollyworld: Indian Cinema through a Transnational Lens. Raminder Kaur and Ajay Sinha, eds. New Delhi: Sage

    Additional publications Include

    Refereed journals

    2002 Branding ‘perfection’. Foreign as self; self as foreign-foreign. Journal of Material Culture. 7 (3): 273-93

    2001 Ethnographic Encounters: Positionings within and outside the insider frame. Social Anthropology 9: 307-21

    2000. Switching identities: Movements between ‘Indian’ and ‘non-Indian’ in Guyana. Anthropology in Action. 7 (1 -2). 22-32

    Book Chapter

    2000. Television in Guyana: A Regulatory Nightmare in Sue Ralph et al (eds.) Is Regulation still an option in a digital universe? Luton: University of Luton Press

    Encyclopaedia entries:

    Guyana: culture, economy, government. World and its Peoples Encyclopaedia. London: Brown Reference Group

    2001 Guyana: Media. Censorship: An International Encyclopedia. London: Fitzroy Dearbon. 1010-1011

    Book Reviews include


    Linger, Daniel Touro. 2005. Anthropology Through a Double Lens: Public and Personal Worlds in Human Theory. Philadelphia, PA: University of Pennsylvania Press. Social Anthropology. 15:377-378.

    Khan, Aisha. 2006. Callaloo nation: metaphors of race and religious identity among South Asians in Trinidad.(Book review). Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute. 13: 239-240


    Knauft, Bruce M., ed. 2002 Critically Modern: Alternatives, Alterities, Anthropologies. Indiana: Indiana University Press. Anthropological Theory. 6:553

    Lyn Harbottle. 2004. Food for Health, Food for Wealth: The Performance of Ethnic andGender identities by Iranian Settlers in Britain. Oxford: Berghahn . Anthropological Notebooks. 142-144

    Machado-Borges, T. 2003. Only for You! Brazilians and the telenovela flow. Stockholm Studies in Social Anthropology. Stockholm: Almqvist & Wiksell International. Social Anthropology. 14: 287-288


    Van der Veer, Peter. 2001. Imperial encounters. Religion and modernity in India and Britain. Princeton: Princeton University Press. Social Anthropology. 12:391

    Recent and forthcoming


    Invited Speaker:2013 Writing Home. Imagining and Experiencing Publics. Stockholm University Annual Anthropology Roundtable on 'Writing and Reading Across Borders

    Invited Speaker: 2013 Travelling Objects, personhood and belonging. Caribbean Aesthetics Workshop, Open University

    Invited Paper: 2013 Reconceptualising Knowledge-givers. Identities Seminar, University of Oxford

    Invited Paper: 2013 Materialising Home. 112th American Anthropological Association Conference, Chicago, USA, on Future Publics, Current Engagements

    Opening Plenary: 2010 Violence in the Field. Anthropology in London Conference, UCL

    2010 Discussant: AAA panel - Brands, Counterfeiting, Authenticity, and Authority, American Anthropological Association Annual conference, New Orleans





    Some current and past modules

    AI5102 Landscapes of power, resistance and violence

    AI6100 Thesis/Project for Anthropology (Urban anthropology fieldwork programme in London)

    AI4102 Urban Anthropology

    A12131: Anthropological Theory

    AI2150 Knowing Humankinds. Anthropology of Difference and Diaspora

    AI1124 Bodies and Persons


    MSc AIM 211 Landscapes of Power and Rights

    MSc AIM213 Anthropological Approaches

    MSC AI205  Anthropology, Human Rights and Justice

    BSc Anthropology


    MRes Programme

    MSc Anthropology, Human Rights and Justice - Programme Convenor

    Membership in Professional Associations :

    Royal Anthropological Institute, fellow and past elected member of the council; Member of the RAI Publications Committee
    Member of American Anthropological Association, American Ethnologist Society, European Association of Social Anthropologists