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School of Social and Political Science: Staff profiles


Laura Jeffery

Laura Jeffery
Dr Laura Jeffery
Lecturer in Social Anthropology
5.20 Chrystal Macmillan Building 15a George Square Edinburgh UK EH8 9LD
+44 (131) 651 3860
Research Interests
Forced displacement, Migration studies, Environmental anthropology, Environmental Sociology, Indian Ocean studies, Anthropology of Britain, Mauritius, Chagos islanders, Digital ethnography, Critical heritage studies, Environment and society, Conservation and development, Human-environment relations, Maldives, Seychelles, Roads and infrastructure

Guidance and Feedback Hours

  • Please email for an appointment


I am a social anthropologist specialising in forced displacement, migration studies, development, conservation, and environmental knowledge, with ethnographic experience in several Indian Ocean islands and in the UK.

I am currently Senior Researcher on a research team working on roads and infrastructure development in South Asia, funded by an ERC Consolidator Grant (2015–20) awarded to Professor Edward Simpson. I am working with Dr Luke Heslop on the development of connective infrastructure – roads, bridges, and inter-island causeways – in Maldives.

My previous research focused on the Chagos islanders, who were forcibly removed from the Chagos Archipelago by the UK Government in the late 1960s and early 1970s to make way for a US military base on Diego Garcia. As an ESRC Postgraduate Student (2001–05) and ESRC Postdoctoral Fellow (2005–06), my fieldwork in Mauritius and Seychelles focused on Chagossian narratives of exclusion and belonging, the politics of victimhood, changing representations of the homeland, collective identification and community mobilisation, and political and legal struggles for compensation and the right to return. As a Leverhulme Early Career Fellow (2006–08), I worked on reformulations of 'home' and the 'homeland' amongst Chagossians who have migrated to the UK since being granted UK citizenship in 2002. As an ESRC Research Fellow (2009–15), I worked with Dr Rebecca Rotter to explore debates about environmental knowledge in the context of:

  1. The UK government's policy review on the Chagos Archipelago and feasibility study for the resettlement of the Chagos Archipelago, and
  2. Disputes between the UK and Mauritius about sovereignty over Chagos and the legality of the controversial Chagos Marine Protected Area (MPA). 



Edited Special Issues

Journal Articles

Please email me for a PDF if you do not have library access to these journals.

Selected Book Chapters

Research Groups

Edinburgh Marine Network

Global Environment and Society Academy

Citizens, Nations and Migration Network

Postgraduate Supervision

PhD Student Projects

  • Dr László Lajtai: multilingualism, social inequality, and mental healthcare in Mauritius
  • Heid Jerstad: changing weather in the North Indian Himalayas
  • Adaoma Wosu: women's intertidal resource use, Ibo island, northern Mozambique
  • Mairi O'Gorman: social remittances and the 'social renaissance' in Seychelles
  • Dustie Spencer: transnational Kashmiri activism in the UK and online
  • Hiu Yan Yu: Chinese migration and citizenship in the UK

Topics interested in supervising

I welcome enquiries about supervision relating to my research interests in: environment and society; human-environment relations; politics of conservation and development; roads and infrastructure; anthropology of displacement and migration studies; political and legal anthropology; critical heritage studies; digital ethnography; islands of the Western Indian Ocean, especially Mauritius, Chagos, Rodrigues, Agalega, Seychelles, Maldives, and Reunion; anthropology of Britain

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

PhD In African Studies; PhD in Social Anthropology; PhD in South Asian Studies; MSc (R) in South Asian Studies