Staff Profiles

Jonathan Spencer

Jonathan Spencer
Name
Professor Jonathan Spencer FRSE
Title
Regius Chair of South Asian Language, Culture and Society; Deputy Head of School
Social AnthropologySchool of Social and Political ScienceUniversity of Edinburgh
Address
5.02 Chrystal Macmillan Building 15a George Square Edinburgh UK EH8 9LD
Telephone
+44 (0)131 650 3944
Email
Research Interests
Religion and Politics, Sri Lanka, South and Southeast Asia, Buddhism, War and peace
URL
http://www.sps.ed.ac.uk/staff/social_anthropology/spencer_jonathan

Guidance and Feedback Hours

I am on leave in semester 2, 2013-14, and will not keep regular Guidance and Feedback Hours, but will be happy to see students by appointment whenever possible: to make an appointment to see me, email jonathan.spencer@ed.ac.uk.

Biographical Statement

Jonathan Spencer has carried out fieldwork in Sri Lanka since the early 1980s, concentrating at first on rural change and local politics, but writing more recently on ethnic conflict, political violence and political non-violence. His current research looks at the fraught boundary between the religious and the political in Sri Lanka and elsewhere. He has recently published a book on the anthropology of 'the political' in South Asia, Anthropology, Politics, and the State (2007) and is preparing a new book, with colleagues from SOAS, Zurich and Peradeniya, on the work of religious organizations in war and peace in Sri Lanka. He is a series editor for Cambridge New Directions in Anthropology, and has been a member of the ESRC Training and Development Board. 

Selected Publications

2013 (with Sidharthan Maunaguru) 'Tigers, Temples and the Remaking of Tamil Society.' Religion and Society. 3. 169-76.

2013 'A Certain Gesture: Reflections on the Murder of Sivaram.' Journal of Historical Sociology. Special Issue 'Counter-mapping the Self: Agency and History in South Asia' edited by Nayanika Mookherjee. 26 (1): 83-99.

2012 'Who is the enemy?' Anthropology of this Century 4, May 2012.

2012 (with Harini Amarasuriya) 'NGOs, the state, and "cultural values": imagining the global in Sri Lanka.' in J. Howell (ed.) Global Matters for Non-Governmental Public Action. London: Palgrave.

2012 (with Jennifer Curtis) 'Anthropology and the Political.' in R. Fardon et al., (eds) Sage Handbook of Social Anthropology Volume 1. London: Sage.

2012 'Performing Democracy and Violence, Agonism and Community, Politics and Not Politics in Sri Lanka.' Geoforum. Special Issue, Space, Contestation and the Political. 43(4): 725-31.

2011 (ed. with Jonathan Goodhand and Benedikt Korf) Conflict and Peacebuilding in Sri Lanka: Caught in the Peace Trap? London: Routledge.

2010 'The Perils of Engagement: A Space for Anthropology in the Age of Security?' Current Anthropology. 51 (S2): 289-99.

2009 (ed. with Alan Barnard) Encyclopedia of Social and Cultural Anthropology. Second edition. London: Routledge.

2008 'A Nationalism without Politics? The Illiberal Consequences of Liberal Institutions in Sri Lanka.' Third World Quarterly. 29 (3): 611-629.

2007 Anthropology, Politics and the State: Democracy and Violence in South Asia. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press

2007 'Anthropological order and political disorder' in F. Pirie and B. von Benda-Beckman (eds) Order and Disorder. Oxford: Berghahn.

2003 'A nation 'living in different places': notes on the impossible work of purification in post-colonial Sri Lanka.' Contributions to Indian Sociology; reprinted in F. Osella and K. Gardner (eds) Migration, modernity and social transformation in South Asia Delhi: Sage.
 

 

Topics interested in supervising

I am currently working with a number of students researching the politics, history and culture of Sri Lanka, including the wider Sri Lankan diaspora. I am also interested in working with students interested in the anthropology of democracy and the political history of social anthropology, on religion and politics, and on other issues in South and Southeast Asia.

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

PhD in Social Anthropology; PhD in South Asian Studies