Staff Profiles

Janet Carsten

Janet Carsten
Professor Janet Carsten
Professor of Social and Cultural Anthropology
Social AnthropologySchool of Social and Political ScienceUniversity of Edinburgh
5.24 Chrystal Macmillan Building 15a George Square Edinburgh UK EH8 9LD
+44 (0)131 650 3935

Guidance and Feedback Hours

9-11 Fridays

Research Interests

  • Kinship and relatedness
  • gender and the person
  • genomics and reproductive technologies
  • houses and domesticity
  • migration
  • memory
  • adoption and adoption reunions
  • Malaysia and Southeast Asia
  • Britain

Biographical statement

I have conducted fieldwork in Malaysia and Britain. After completing my PhD at the London School of Economics, I was a Research Fellow at the University of Cambridge, and Lecturer at the University of Manchester. I have given guest lectures and keynote addresses at Johns Hopkins University, the National University of Taiwan, UCLA, the University of Copenhagen, and University of Michigan. A three year Leverhulme Major Research Fellowship from September 2007-10 has enabled me to conduct new research on articulations between popular and medical ideas about blood in Britain and Malaysia.

Selected Publications

  book cover, Carsten         book cover, Carsten


2007 Ghosts of Memory: Essays on Remembrance and Relatedness (edited). Blackwell.

2004 After Kinship. Cambridge University Press.

2000 Cultures of Relatedness: New Approaches to the Study of Kinship (edited). Cambridge University Press.

1997 The Heat of the Hearth: The Process of Kinship in a Malay Fishing Community. Oxford: Clarendon Press.

1995 About the House: Lévi-Strauss and Beyond (edited with Stephen Hugh-Jones). Cambridge University Press.


2012 'Fieldwork Since  the 1980s: Total Immersion and its Discontents.' In The Sage Handbook of Social Anthropology, Vol 2, eds. R. Fardon, O. Harris, T.H.J. Marchand, M. Nuttall, C. Shore, V. Strang and R.A Wilson, pp.7-20. 

2011 'Owed to Folks.'  Anthropology of this Century.

2011 'Substance and Relationality: Blood in Contexts.' Annual Review of Anthropology, 40:19-35.

2011 'La "Vie Sociale" du Sang (Penang, Malaysie).' Terrain 56: 58--73. 

2007 'Constitutive Knowledge: Tracing Trajectories of Information in New Contexts of Relatedness.' Anthropological Quarterly 80 (2): 403-26.

2001 'Substantivism, Anti-Substantivism, and Anti-Anti-Substantivism. In Relative Values, eds Susan McKinnon and Sarah Franklin. Duke University Press.

2000 'Knowing Where You've Come From: Ruptures and Continuities of Time and Kinship in Narratives of Adoption Reunions.' Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute (N.S.) 6: 637-53.

1995 'The Substance of Kinship and the Heat of the Hearth: Feed­ing, Personhood and Relatedness among Malays in Pulau Langkawi'. American Ethnologist 22 (2): 223-41.

1995 'The Politics of Forgetting: Migration, Kinship and Memory on the Periphery of the Southeast Asian State'. Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute (N.S.) 1: 317-335.

Topics interested in supervising

I welcome enquiries about supervision of research on kinship and relatedness broadly conceived, on inter-generational relations and memory, and on Southeast Asia - especially Malaysia. I have supervised research on diverse topics - from the world of horse racing in Newmarket to donor insemination in the UK, and from tourism in Malaysia to ethnic identity, kinship and memory in Java. The projects I currently supervise include marriage in Cairo, fur and inter-generational relations in Poland, and Korean educational migration, identity, and kinship.

If you are interested in being supervised by Janet Carsten, please see the links below for more information:

PhD in Social Anthropology