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School of Social and Political Science: Staff profiles


Laura Major

Laura Major
Dr Laura Major
Career Development Fellow (Lecturer), Social Anthropology
3.20, 3F1 18 Buccleuch Place Edinburgh UK EH8 9LN
0131 6511 329
Research Interests
Ethnography, Memory, Material Culture, Conflict and Post-Conflict Politics, Museum Studies, Anthropology of Death, Anthropology of the body

Guidance and Feedback Hours

  • 17th of September 2018 - 26th November 2018 my open office hours are Monday 10-12. Otherwise please contact me to arrange a meeting.

Codirector for Atelier: Arts and the Social Sciences Network

Member of the Bones Collective interdisciplinary research network

Committee member for the Edinburgh Centre of Medical Anthropology (EDCMA)

Advisory Board member for the journal Critical African Studies

Advisory Team member for Rethink: Journal of Creative Ethnography

 Tweets at @excogitating and @AnthroEdinburgh


  • 2018 & 2019 (Semester Two) Convener for The Anthropology of the Body
  • 2017 & 2018 (Semester One): Co-Convener for Culture and Power: Political Anthropology (PG and UG)
  • 2018 (Semester Two) Lecturer for The Invention of History
  • 2017 (Semester Two): Consumption, Exchange and Technology (UG); The Anthropology of Economic Processes (PG)
  • 2016 (Semester One):  The Anthropology of Health and Healing; The Anthropology of Health and Illness (PG)


Politics, Death & The Management of Human Remains

Publications and a book manuscript in process as part of current Career Development Fellowship - expected submission and publication 2017-2020; Munro award recipient 2018 'Death and Kinship in Contemporary Rwanda


Politics in the Face of Death






  • Paper for Politics in the Face of Death: An Interdisciplinary Workshop

Researcher for A Comparative Anthropology of Conscience, Ethics and Human Rights: 'Conscience Matters' National Museum of Scotland Exhibition 2019

A Comparative Anthropology of Conscience, Ethics and Human Rights (PI: Professor Toby Kelly). I am part of the team delivering an exhibition and other outputs from this research which examines conscientious objection during WWII and its legacies. Exhibition at the National Museum of Scotland 'Conscience Matters' from January 2019.

Questionable Objects

  • I am part of a new group developing exhibitions, workshops, research activities, along with conservation and storage solutions which concern our  subject area ethnographic objects.


  • RAI/British Museum Conference 'Art and Anthropology' presentation (June 2018): Questionable Objects.

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  • Major, L. 2017. (Under Review) Threads of Memory and History: Memorials and Memorialisation in Rwanda.
  • Major, L. 2015. “Unearthing, Untangling and Re-articulating Genocide Corpses in Rwanda." Critical African Studies 7(2)
  • Major, L., and J. Fontein. 2015. "Editorial: Corporealities of Violence in Southern and Eastern Africa." Critical African Studies 7(2)


  • Nov 2015. Paper presented at the Annual Conference of the American Anthropological Association panel "Material Ethics, Vital Theory: Death, Dying and Injury in Africa", Denver, USA.
  • Oct 2015. Invited Speaker, Departmental Seminar. University of St Andrews
  • Sept 2015. Invited Speaker, Institute Seminar. British Institute in Eastern Africa. Nairobi, Kenya.
  • June 2014 “Bodies, Bricks, and Rwandan Memorial Architecture: an analysis of the merging of architectures of brick building and transformed bodies of the dead in the creation of the Rwandan Genocide memorial”. Paper presented at ‘Ruined Bodies and Ageing Buildings: Architecture , Oblivion and Decay’, ASA14 (Association of Social Anthropologists of the UK and Commonwealth), Edinburgh, Scotland.
  • April 2014  “(Re)articulating bodies and mass grave exhumations in Rwanda”. Paper presented at ‘Remembering and Rebuilding: A Panel Discussion’ University of St Andrews.
  • Sept 2013  “The (un)lovely bones: exhuming and reburying human remains in Rwanda”. Paper presented at ‘Corporealities of Violence in Southern Africa’, British Academy workshop, University of Edinburgh.
  • July 2013  “The (un)lovely bones: exhuming and reburying human remains in Rwanda”. Paper presented at ‘Thinking Memory Through Space: Materiality, Representation and Imagination’,  interdisciplinary symposium, Goldsmiths College, University of London.


  • ‘Ruined Bodies and Ageing Buildings: Architecture , Oblivion and Decay’, Panel 55, ASA14 (Association of Social Anthropologists of the UK and Commonwealth) Decennial Conference, The Surgeons Hall, Edinburgh, 19th June, 2014. This panel is kindly supported by  the School of Social and Political Science Early Career Researchers Fund. 
  • ‘(Re)materializing dystopia/utopia in Rwanda’, Panel 3 of the Critical African Studies Panel Stream African Utopias/Dystopias, ASA-UK (African Studies Association UK) Biennial Conference, University of Sussex, Sussex, Sept 9-11th 2014.   


  • Co-organiser with Bright Club of an event which brought researchers to the stage to perform their work as standup comedy for a general audience. 
  • Co-organiser of the Inspiring Writing Workshops held within the School of Social and Political Studies. Workshops brought established writers and public engagement specialists from the Scottish literary community together with researchers based within the School, with the aim of developing specific skills in writing and public engagment methods. The workshops were funded by the School of Social and Political Science. 

Topics interested in supervising

Please note that as I have a fixed term contract I am not able to provide PhD supervision for applicants hoping to begin their study in 2019/20.