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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 Guidance/Feedback Hours: Friday, 1-4pm (Autumn 2014)
Research Interests
Ethnography, International development, South Asia, renewable energy, Solar photovoltaics, Technology and society, Economic anthropology

Guidance and Feedback Hours

  • Friday 12.00-14.00


My research and teaching brings social anthropology to bear on problems, projects and technologies of ‘development’. Details of my research can be found below. I joined the University of Edinburgh in 2011 with a regional specialisation in South Asia and am a Director of the University of Edinburgh's Global Development Academy. I have carried out ethnographic fieldwork in India, Papua New Guinea and Scotland with support from the Leverhulme Trust, the Economic and Social Research Council, the Royal Anthropological Institute, and the Scottish Government among others.

Open access links to my research publications can be found here. I am also an occasional contributor to the LSE Review of Books and The Guardian.  



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. I am currently co-investigator on an ESRC funded research project ‘Off the Grid: Relational Infrastructures for Fragile Futures’ (2013-15) that looks comparatively at infrastructures for energy and health in parts of rural India, Papua New Guinea and Scotland (

3The Poverty Business: A second strand of my research has focused on 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).

4Low Carbon Energy: Since 2011 I have been following the work of solar engineers and NGOs involved in designing and distributing solar photovoltaic (PV) lighting systems to people who live without reliable access to mains electricity across rural India. 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 have 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'.  

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 currently 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. I am also a co-founder of Urjaa Samadhan, a non-profit social enterprise that provides mobile and web based tools for the off grid solar industry in rural India. Before joining the University of Edinburgh I worked for the International Labour Organisation 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 Science and Technology Studies; PhD in Social Anthropology; PhD in South Asian Studies; PhD in Sociology; MSc (R) Science and Technology Studies; MSc (R) Social Anthropology; MSc (R) Sociology and Anthropology of Health and Illness; MSc (R) in South Asian Studies