School of Social and Political Science

Tobias Kelly

Job Title

Professor of Political and Legal Anthropology

photo of Toby Kelly

Room number


Street (Address)

Chrystal Macmillan Building

City (Address)


Country (Address)


Post code (Address)


Research interests

Research interests

Political and legal anthropology, Political violence, Pacifism, Human rights, Anthopology of Britain, Historical Anthropology, Israeli-Palestinian conflict

Topics interested in supervising

I am interested in supervising PhDs that look at human rights, political anthropology, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, political violence and pacifism.

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


Biographical statement

Tobias Kelly is a political and legal anthropologist. His research interestes include crime and policing, human rights, and political violence. He has carried out ethnographic and archival research in Britain, Israel/Palestine, and at the UN. He received a PhD in Anthropology from the London School of Economics in 2003, and has worked at the Institute of Law of Birzeit University, the Crisis States Programme at the LSE, and the Centre for Socio-Legal Studies at Oxford University.

He is currently thinking about a new project on private detectives: a cultural and social history of the secrets we want to keep and the ways we find them out.

His most recent book Battles of Conscience is a history of British conscientious objectors, pacifists and others who refused to fight in the Second World War.  The wider project, funded by the ERC, involved colleagues working on case studies from the UK, Sri Lanka and the former Soviet Union. More details can be found here.

He also works on issues related to torture and ill-treatment, and has broader interest in rethinking protection within the fields of human righs and humanitarianism, with a particular interest in the relationships between violence and and inequality.

He is co-editor of Humanity: An International Journal of Human Rights, Humanitarianism and International Development, and editor of the Ethnographies of Political Violence series with University of Pennsylvania Press.

For a full list of publications, including Open Access Versions, please see Edinburgh Research Explorer