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School of Social and Political Science: Graduate school


Alex Gapud

Alex Gapud
Alex Gapud
Social Anthropology School of Social and Political Science University of Edinburgh
Edinburgh UK EH8 9LD
+44(0)7580 268376
Research Interests
Memory, identity, England, Post-imperialism, Materiality, Politics of Memory, Past-presencing, Historical consciousness, heritage, colonial aphasia, Silence, Metropolitan Postcolonial Memory

PhD Title

(Working Title): 'Historicities of Colonialism and the Slave Trade in Bristol"

As of September 2018, I have been promoted to the position of Teaching Fellow. Please refer to my staff webpage here:

Biography and Research

Seeking to partake in and build up a wider literature on Metropolitan Postcolonial Memory, I am a PhD candidate working on post-imperial English identity and in particular, 'colonial memory' referring to what is remembered and forgotten of the imperial past in England (specifically England, as opposed to Britain at large), as well as the ways in which imperialism still implicitly haunts the present in contemporary England.  Especially prominent within the data are themes of silence as well as temporal and spatial techniques of displacement within historical and heritage narratives with echo what Ann Stoler terms 'colonial aphasia.'

In autumn 2015, I returned from 12 months of ethnographic fieldwork in Bristol, England (2014-2015) which focuses on materiality, heritage, and memorials in the memoryscape of Bristol as an English city which was largely built upon colonial trades including the Transatlantic Slave Trade.  Methodologically, this involved ethnographic engagements with a variety of heritage and local history projects, investigating processes of constructing, (re)producing, and interpreting historical narratives in the present.

Broadly, this involves a very general understanding of the city's past and its history and how we come to know it, although I am specifically (but not only) interested in Bristol's imperial connections, continuities, legacies, and how we know and understand these aspects of history today.  That said, although I have an interest in the history of Bristol, I am not a historian, but rather, someone interested in how the public remembers the past today (an anthropologist of memory).  In order to gain this understanding, I look at various people and communities throughout Bristol to understand the varying perspectives and attitudes towards Bristol's history and its imperial links.  This includes people from a host of different backgrounds across ethnicity, class, and generations.

I was also a Postgraduate Class Representative for my (post-field) research cohort and also had the honour of serving as Guest Chair for the Postgraduate Forum, Graduate School of Political and Social Science, as well as the University Challenge Captain for Edinburgh University, both in 2014.

In April 2018, I was awarded Winner, Best Student who Tutors at the University of Edinburgh by the Edinburgh University Students Association (EUSA).  I was also awarded Runner-up for Best Student who Tutors in 2015/16 and have received around 60 award nominations in three years of teaching.


Under Review:

  • Displacing Empire: Aphasia, “Trade”, and Histories of Empire in Bristol. Submitted to History and Anthropology.

Conference Papers:

  • 'Visible and Invisible Memories: The Case of Edward Colston in Bristol, England' at GAPSYM8 - The 8th Symposium of the Ghent Africa Platform - 'Colonial Memories at Present: Decolonising Belgium?' hosted by the University of Ghent. November 2014
  • 'Tobacco Memories in Bristol' at the 2015 Conference of Association of Social Anthropologists (ASA15), Panel 32: Anthropology and Heritage Studies, University of Exeter, April 2015.
  • ‘The Silence of the British Empire in Present Day Bristol: Imperial Silences of Circumscription’ at the 2016 Conference of the Association of Social Anthropologists (ASA16), Panel 21: Europe and its Silences, University of Durham, Forthcoming, July 2016
  • 'The Materiality of Edward Colston's Ghost' at AHM Amsterdam 2017: Materialities of Post-Colonial Memory, University of Amsterdam, December 2017 

Teaching Experience (as a PhD Student):

  • Winner, Best Student who Tutors at the University of Edinburgh, 2017/18, awarded by the Edinburgh University Students Association
  • Runner-up, Best Student who Tutors at the University of Edinburgh,  2015/16, awarded by the Edinburgh University Students Association
  • Around 60 teaching award nominations to date overall
  • The Invention of History (Guest Lecturer and Guest Tutor, Spring 2016 and Spring 2018)
  • Ethnography: Theory and Practice (Guest Lecturer and Tutor, Spring 2017, 2018)
  • Empires (Tutor, Autumn 2016, 2017)
  • Social Anthropology 1A: The Life Course (Senior Tutor Autumn 2017; Tutor, Autumn 2015, 2016)
  • Social Anthropology 1B: Anthropology Matters (Tutor, Spring 2016, 2017)

Awards and Scholarships:

  • Social Anthropology Special Award and Scholarship (The University of Edinburgh), 2014

Academic Qualifications:

  • PhD Social Anthropology, The University of Edinburgh (2013-2018)
  • MSc Social Anthropology with Distinction, The University of Edinburgh (2011-2012)
  • MTh Practical Theology and Christian Ethics with Commendation, The University of Aberdeen (2010-2011)
  • BA International Affairs (Cum Laude), The University of Georgia (2003-2006)

Media Appearances and Public Engagement:

Television and Video

  • University Challenge: Class of 2014
    • Two-part series about trying out for University Challenge, aired on BBC2, July 2014
  • What I Wish I'd Known When I Started Teaching


  • Education Matters
    • A weekly radio show on local matters of education in Bristol, aired on Ujima Radio 98.7, August 2015

Public Appearances

  • Questioning Reflections of Empire
    • A public symposium on images and representations of the British Empire, hosted by Bristol Museum and Art Gallery, April 2018
  • Bristol and the Imperial Past
    • A public lecture on Bristol’s relationship with Empire, hosted by the Bristol Commonwealth Society, June 2016
  • Bristol as an Imperial City
    • A public forum on material remnants of Bristol’s relationship with Empire, hosted by the Bristol Civic Society, August 2015

Other Projects and Blogs:

PhD Supervisors:

Joost Fontein

John Harries

Richard Baxstrom