School of Social and Political Science

Dr Inna Yaneva-Toraman

Job Title

GCRF Postdoctoral Research Fellow


Academic qualifications

PhD Social Anthropology, The University of Edinburgh, UK conferred March 2020

MSc Social Anthropology, The University of Edinburgh, UK conferred November 2012

BSc Sociology, Middle East Technical University, Turkey conferred June 2011

Awards and grants

FfWG Foundation Main Grant (BFWG Charitable foundation) 2017

Tweedie Exploration Fellowship for Students 2015

ESRC (+2) Open Competition Award 2014

SSPS Social Anthropology Special Award, The University of Edinburgh 2013

Teaching experience

Guest Lecturer

People First: The Anthropology of International Development (SCAN11027) - (Postgraduate)

Consumption, Exchange, Technology (SCAN10031) - (3rd-year Undergraduate/Honours)

Empires (SCAN08010) - (2nd-year Undergraduate)

The Anthropology of the Body (SCAN11026) (Postgraduate and 4th-year Undergraduate/Honours)

Geography Fieldwork: Foundations (Human Geography - Athens Field Trip) (GEGR09017) - (3rd year Undergraduate/Honours)

Senior Tutor

Social Anthropology 1A: The Life Course (SCAN08013) - ( 1st year Undergraduate)

Sustainable Development 1A: Introducing Sustainable Development (SCIL08008) - (1st year Undergraduate)


Ritual and Religion (SCAN10023) - (3rd-year Undergraduate/Honours)

Consumption, Exchange, Technology (SCAN10031) - (3rd-year Undergraduate/Honours)

Kinship: Structure and Process (SCAN10021) (3rd-year Undergraduate/Honours)

Social and Cultural Geography (GEGR08004) - (2nd year Undergraduate)

Geography Fieldwork: Foundations (Human Geography - Athens Field Trip) (GEGR09017) - (3rd year Undergraduate/Honours)

Nature of Geographical Knowledge (GEGR09012) (3rd-year Undergraduate/Honours)

Conference and seminar papers

(Dec. 2018) 'Hiring to Give: Wealth Distribution and Circulation in a Papua New Guinean Society', paper presented at ESfO 2018, Cambridge, UK

(Jun. 2018) '"Of the Land, From the Land": Mutable Baining Materiality in Response to Dispossession', paper presented at RAI2018: Art, Materiality and Representation, London, UK

(Jul. 2017) ‘Masks, Money, and the Power of Being Seen among the Baining of Papua New Guinea’, paper presented at ESfO 2017, Munich, Germany

(Mar. 2017) ‘Growing families: Household, Gardening, Production and the Family among the Kairak Baining of Papua New Guinea’, paper presented to SIEF 2017, Göttingen, Germany

(Jul. 2016) ‘From cocoa to oil palm: visibility strategy and development among the Baining’, paper presented to EASA 2016, Milan, Italy

(Jun. 2016) ‘Baining Masks and Kastom’, paper presented at the National Museum and Gallery of Papua New Guinea, Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea

(Aug. 2015) ‘Personhood within a Mask’, paper presented at Australian National University, Canberra, Australia  

Other professional activities

Copy-editor - Anthropology Matters, 2017 - 2020

Lead Committee Member - School of Social and Political Science Postgraduate Mentoring Scheme (SSPS PGT Mentoring), 2017 - 2018

The Edinburgh Award in Professionalism in Community Engagement, 2017

Executive editor - The Unfamiliar Journal, 2014-2018

Research interests

Research interests

Anthropology of development, Economic anthropology, sustainable development, political economy, politics of identity, land and landownership, agroecology and conservation management, sustainable farming, rural development, agrarian change, material culture, personhood, ritual and religion, Melanesia

I am currently working as a GCRF Postdoctoral Research Fellow in the Social Anthropology Department at the University of Edinburgh, where I also completed my PhD in January 2020. This fellowship builds on my doctoral research titled 'Faces of Shame, Masks of Development: Recognition and Oil Palm among the Baining of Papua New Guinea', which investigated how a group of Papua New Guinean people, positioned at the far margins of a growing global palm oil market, understand and negotiate their cultural identity in relation to hopes for development and positive social change.

Throughout my fieldwork (2015-2016), I became interested in the social and ecological effects of oil palm farming, which at the time had been recently introduced in the Baining region in East New Britain. In my doctoral thesis, I traced the links between notions of landownership, shame, and recognition through which the Baining people position themselves in relation to the environment, display themselves in encounters with corporate and state actors, and orient their actions with respect to aspirations for political participation and development. Drawing on notions of concealment and revelation, invisibility and visibility, and the struggle for recognition, I explored how this displaced and marginalized community, experienced changing perceptions about the value of kastom and its relationship to the land, and imagined the lease of their customary land to an oil palm plantation, as a tool to recover its use, gain recognition from the state, and actualize dreams of community prosperity.

My GCRF research expands on this work by investigating how rural development and land management policy in Papua New Guinea have been shaped and translated into export-oriented agricultural projects in cash cropping. It involves a comprehensive analysis of sustainable commercial farming, tropical forest management, and rural development policy in Melanesia and Southeast Asia. It looks at the uneven geography and representation of local knowledge and experiences in national development goals that emphasise agricultural expansion – particularly in the oil palm industry. It reveals how rural development projects that entail an agrarian transition into cash cropping or land-rent, create new inequalities or exacerbate existing ones and the ways in which this is fed back into policymaking.  It explores how local communities, project brokers, and leaders understand development and communicate their knowledge, experiences, and needs with experts and policymakers. Finally, it looks at how national and international standards and regulations on sustainable palm oil are developed and put in practice, how are they monitored and evolve in line with national development goals and the UN Sustainable Development Goals.

Works within