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School of Social and Political Science: Staff profiles


Jamie Cross

Jamie Cross
Dr Jamie Cross
Senior Lecturer, Social Anthropology
Room 5.28 Chrystal Macmillan Building 15a George Square Edinburgh UK EH8 9LD
Office: +44(0)1316515181 Mobile: +44(0)7552817310
Research Interests
Ethnography, International development, South Asia, renewable energy, Solar photovoltaics, Technology and society, Economic anthropology

Guidance and Feedback Hours

  • Friday 10-12


My teaching and research brings social and cultural anthropology to bear on the material politics of development in the global south.

I joined the University of Edinburgh in 2011. Further details of my current teachingresearch and public engagement can be found below. Open access links to my research publications can be found here. I co-edit Pluto Press's Anthropology, Culture and Society book series and have been an occasional contributor to the LSE Review of Books and The Guardian.



I currently teach undergraduate and post-graduate courses in the anthropology of energy, international development and global political economy.    

Energy in the Global South

Since joining Edinburgh I have established a number of extra curricular initiatives that explore audio and visual methodologies, and connect teaching in anthropology to questions of power and economy in the field of design.

Anthroplogy in 100 Objects
Social Sounds Project
Just Technology Hub
Circular Solar   



1Infrastructure: From a focus on large-scale industrial development projects like India’s Special Economic Zones to a focus on technologies for energy generation and storage in places where there is no electricity grid, one strand of my research has involved an engagement with the social and material relationships that constitute infrastructure. A recent ESRC funded research project Off the Grid: Relational Infrastructures for Fragile Futures (2013-15) looked comparatively at infrastructures for energy and health in parts of rural India, Papua New Guinea and Scotland. I currently lead the ESRC/AHRC funded Displaced Energy project (2016-2018) which is developing qualitative approaches to energy infrastructures in refugee camps and settlements across sub Saharan Africa.

4The Solar Future: Since 2011 I have been following the work of engineers and entrepreneurs involved in designing and distributing solar photovoltaic (PV) lighting systems to people who live without reliable access to mains electricity across the global south. As governments, international development donors and businesses commit themselves to realising targets for universal energy access this research examines the relationships involved in creating markets for renewable energy technologies in contexts of global poverty and the values, practices and meanings that mediate the consumption of energy, particularly lighting. I published occasional field notes from this material at The Solar Assemblage, have expanded this research with side projects in Papua New Guinea, Kenya and Malawi, and and am currently working on a book provisionally entitled, 'Everyone is Not Illuminated'. A short film, The Solar Fix, draws attention to issues of sustainability in the solar industry and I am currently exploring attempts to find value in poor people's energy data as part of the Energy Data for All research group.

3The Poverty Business: An ongoing strand of research is concerned with the role of transnational corporations and social enterprises as agents of development. From a focus on corporate social responsibility programmes to the role of the private sector in delivering goods and services to the global poor my research explores the moralities and social relationships that are shaped and articulated by market based approaches to development. I am co-founder of the Centre for New Economies of Development and lead the ESRC’s Seminar Series, ‘Doing Good by Doing Well: Capitalism, Humanitarianism and International Development’ (2014-2017). One outcome of this work has been a set of collectively produced resources and visual material on Humanitarian Goods

2Work and Labour: My doctoral and post-doctoral research projects focused on the lived experience of industrial work and labour at sites of global manufacturing in contemporary India. I have written about the impact of liberalising economic reforms on industrial workers; on the aspirations for social mobility that manufacture consent to industrial work discipline; on occupational health and safety and on relationships between technology and gender in India's global workplaces. Elements of this work form the basis of my book Dream Zones: Anticipating Capitalism and Development in India published in 2014 by Pluto Press.

Public Anthropology

Along with a commitment to field based, ethnographic research my work is built upon an on-going engagement with the issues I write about. 

I am a co-founder of Urjaa Samadhan, a non-profit social enterprise that works to catalyse solar repair services in rural India. I also run the Off Grid Solar Scorecard, an initiative intended to draw attention to questions of material politics and sustainable design in the global solar industry. I am a Technical Advisor to the Silicon Valley Toxics Coalition, a non-profit research and advocacy group that promotes social and environmental justice in the global solar industry. Before joining the University of Edinburgh I worked for the International Labour Organisation (ILO) and the Dutch Centre for Research on Multinationals (SOMO).

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

PhD In African Studies; PhD in Science and Technology Studies; PhD in Social Anthropology; PhD in South Asian Studies; PhD in International Development; MSc (R) Science and Technology Studies; MSc (R) Social Anthropology