School of Social and Political Science

Magnus Course

Job Title

Head of Social Anthropology, Senior Lecturer in Social Anthropology

Magnus Course

Room number


Building (Address)

Chrystal Macmillan Building

Street (Address)

15a George Square

City (Address)


Country (Address)


Post code (Address)


Research interests

Research interests

Creative ethnography; Memory, Language and Identity; Gaelic Scotland; fishing and the sea; Chile; South America; Death, religion and ritual; Italy; Purgatory.

  • creative methods and outputs in the social sciences
  • kinship, personhood, and ritual in comparative perspective
  • the role of language in anthropological representations
  • death and religious change

PhD Supervision:

I would be interested in supervising projects relating to:

  • Language and social life
  • Death and religion 
  • Native American ontologies and cosmologies
  • Kinship and personhood
  • Creative ethnography

Topics interested in supervising

I would be interested in supervising projects relating to: Language and social life; Native American ontologies and cosmologies; Kinship and personhood; fishing; death.

If you are interested in being supervised by Magnus Course, please see the links below (open in new windows) for more information:


Magnus Course's research is concerned with the relations between kinship, personhood, power, language and land. He completed his PhD on kinship and personhood among the Mapuche of southern Chile at the London School of Economics in 2005, and the ensuing monograph was published by University of Illinois Press in 2011 as Becoming Mapuche: Person and Ritual in Indigenous Chile. A further monograph on Mapuche kinship, Mapuche Ñi Mongen was published in Spanish by Editores Pehuen in 2017. He is the author of many academic articles on a variety of topics, as well as two edited collections, one (with Suzanne Oakdale) on indigenous autobiographies in lowland South America, the other (with Maya Mayblin) on new anthropological approaches to sacrifice. For the past six years, he has been working on the intersection of fishing and Gaelic culture in the Outer Hebrides of Scotland. He recently started new research exploring changing attitudes to death and the afterlife in Naples. He is the co-producer of two films exploring the role of the sea in the Scottish Gaelic imagination: the award-winning short film Muir ar n-Aithreachean and the BBC/Creative Scotland funded feature-length television documentary Iorram. His most recent film (co-directed with Capucine Tournilhac and Rishabh Raghavan is Santi Migranti, an exploration of a public arts activism project in Naples. His latest book, Three Ways to Fail: witch / clown / usurper has (finally) been completed and is forthcoming with the University of Pennsylvania Press. His current research is on the material and social traces of Purgatory throughout Europe for a book-length project provisionally entitled Leaving Purgatory: the afterlives of an afterlife

Selected publications:

Books and special issues:

2017. Mapuche Ñi Mongen: Persona y Sociedad en la Vida Rural Mapuche, Santiago de Chile: Ediciones Pehuen.

2014. Fluent Selves: Autobiography, Person, and History in Lowland South America. (with Suzanne Oakdale). Lincoln, NE: University of Nebraska Press.

2013. The Other Side of Sacrifice: New Anthropological Approaches. Special Issue of Ethnos (with Maya Mayblin).

2011. Becoming Mapuche: Person and Ritual in Indigenous Chile. Urbana, IL: University of Illinois Press.


In Press. Migrant Saints: art, religion, and activism in contemporary Naples. In New Anthropologies of Italy: Speech, Politics and Culture. Ed. Paolo Heywood. London: Berghahn Press.

2022. The Meaning of Purgatory. AEON 

2021. The Woman Who Shed Her Skin: towards a humble anthropocentrism in Hebridean fishing. Environmental Alterities. Eds. Cristobal Bonelli and Antonia Walford. London: Mattering Press.

2020. The Human Sea. Causeway/Cabhsair. Vol.11 No.1

2020. Fishing, Gaelic, and Environment in the Outer Hebrides. (co-written with Gillebride MacMillan). Proceedings of Rannsachadh na Gaidhlig.

2019. Houses of Uist: memory and dwelling in the Outer Hebrides. Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute. Vol.25, No.1: 51-65.

2019. The Necrographic Imagination. in Articulate Necrographies (eds. A. Panagiatopoulos & D. Espirito Santo). Oxford: Berghahn Press.

2017. Changelings: alterity beyond difference. Folk Life, Vol.55, No.1: 1-10.

2014. The End of Me: Mapuche narratives of destiny. in Fluent Selves: Autobiography, Person, and History in Lowland South America. Eds. Oakdale & Course. Lincoln, NE: University of Nebraska Press.

2013. The Clown Within: becoming white and Mapuche ritual clowns. Comparative Studies in Society and History. Vol. 55, No.4: 771-799.

2013. Speaking the Devil's Language: ontological challenges to Mapuche intersubjectivity. Language and Communication.Vol. 33, No.3: 307-316.

2013. The Other Side of Sacrifice. Ethnos. Vol.78, No.3: 1-12. (with Maya Mayblin).

2013. The Apple is Grown, The Grape is Given: Two Modes of Mapuche Exchange. Journal of Latin American and Caribbean Anthropology, Vol. 18, No.1: 1-13.

2013. The Fifth of Five Worlds. Anthropology of This Century.

2012. The Birth of the Word: Language, Force, and Mapuche Ritual Authority. HAU: Journal of Ethnographic Theory, Vol.2, No.1: 1-26.


2012. Comment on "On the Importance of Visions among the Amazonian Shuar" by Steven Rubenstein. Current Anthropology, Vol.53, No.1: 39-79.

2011. O Nascimento da Palavra: Linguagem, Força e Autoridade Ritual Mapuche. Revista de Antropologia (Sao Paulo) Vol.54, No.2.

2010. Of Words and Fog: Linguistic Relativity and Amerindian Ontology. Anthropological Theory, Vol.10, No.3: 247-263.

2010. Making Friends, Making Oneself: Friendship and the Mapuche Person. In The Social Uses of Friendship: An Anthropological Exploration (eds) A. Desai & E. Killick. London: Berghahn Press.

2010. Los Generos Sobre el Pasado en la Vida Mapuche Rural. Revista Chilena de Antropologia, Vol.21: 39-58.

2009. Why Mapuche Sing. Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute. Vol. 15, No.2: 295-313

2008. Estruturas de diferenca no palin, esporte Mapuche. Mana: Estudos de Antropologia Social Vol.14, No.2: 299-328.

2007. Death, Biography, and the Mapuche Person. Ethnos, Vol. 72, No.1: 77-101.

2005. Borges, the Mapuche, and the Mother's Brother's Son. Cambridge Anthropology, Vol. 25, No.1: 11-30.

Works within

Staff Hours and Guidance

By appointment.