- 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, Political anthropology, Legal anthropology, 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 (2015–2020) 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:
- The UK government's policy review on the Chagos Archipelago and feasibility study for the resettlement of the Chagos Archipelago, and
- Disputes between the UK and Mauritius about sovereignty over Chagos and the legality of the controversial Chagos Marine Protected Area (MPA).
- 2011. Chagos Islanders in Mauritius and the UK: Forced Displacement and Onward Migration. Manchester: Manchester University Press.
Edited Special Issues
- 2011 (with J. Murison). Return and Onward Migration. Population, Space and Place 17, 2
- 2006 (with M. Candea et al). The Politics of Victimhood. History and Anthropology 17, 4
Please email me for a PDF if you do not have library access to these journals.
- 2016 (with R. Rotter). Sustenance, nourishment, and cultivation: plants as living cultural heritage for dispersed Chagossians in Mauritius, Seychelles, and the UK. Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute [Open Access]
- 2014. Ecological restoration in a cultural landscape: conservationist and Chagossian approaches to controlling the 'coconut chaos' on the Chagos Archipelago. Human Ecology 42, 6 [Open Access]
- 2014. Neither confirm nor deny: WikiLeaks evidence and the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations in the judicial review of the Chagos Marine Protected Area. Anthropology Today 30, 3 [Cover article] [Global Justice Academy blog on WikiLeaks Evidence in Court]
- 2013. 'We are the true guardians of the environment': human-environment relations and debates about the future of the Chagos Archipelago. Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute 19, 2 [See also Response and Reply in JRAI 19, 4]
- 2011. 'Unusual immigrants', or, Chagos islanders and their confrontations with British citizenship. Anthropology in Action 18, 2
- 2011 (with S. Johannessen). Reflections on the life and art of the Chagossian painter Clement Siatous. Wasafiri 26, 2
- 2011 (with J. Murison). The temporal, social, spatial and legal dimensions of return and onward migration. Population, Space and Place 17, 2
- 2010. Forced displacement, onward migration, and reformulations of 'home' by Chagossians in Crawley, West Sussex. Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies 36, 7
- 2010. Creole festivals and Afro-Creole cosmopolitanisms in Mauritius. Social Anthropology 18, 4
- 2009. Chagossians refused right to return home. Anthropology Today 25, 1
- 2007. How a plantation became paradise: changing representations of the homeland among displaced Chagos islanders. Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute 13, 4
- 2006. Historical narrative and legal evidence: judging Chagossians' High Court testimonies. PoLAR: Political and Legal Anthropology Review 29, 2 [Selected for Open Access rerelease with a new Postscript in 2014]
- 2006 (with M. Candea). The politics of victimhood. History and Anthropology 17, 4
- 2006. Victims and patrons: strategic alliances and the anti-politics of victimhood among displaced Chagossians and their supporters. History and Anthropology 17, 4
Selected Book Chapters
- 2011 (with D. Vine). Sorrow, sadness, and impoverishment: the lives of Chagossians in Mauritius. In S. Evers & M. Kooy (eds.) Eviction from the Chagos Islands: Displacement and Struggle for Identity against two World Powers. Leiden: Brill.
- 2011. 'A lost people'? Chagossian onward migration and echoes of marginalisation in Crawley. In S. Evers & M. Kooy (eds.) Eviction from the Chagos Islands: Displacement and Struggle for Identity against two World Powers. Leiden: Brill.
- 2009 (with D. Vine). 'Give us back Diego Garcia': unity and division among activists in the Indian Ocean. In C. Lutz (ed.) The Bases of Empire: The Global Struggle against US Military Posts. London: Pluto.
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; politics of conservation and development; roads and infrastructure; human-environment relations; displacement and migration studies; political and legal anthropology; critical heritage studies; digital ethnography; islands of the Western Indian Ocean; Mauritius, Chagos, Rodrigues, Agalega, Seychelles, Maldives, Reunion; anthropology of Britain
If you are interested in being supervised by Laura Jeffery, please see the links below for more information: