Department of Anthropology and Sociology

Dr Elizabeth Hull

Key information

Department of Anthropology and Sociology Senior Lecturer in Anthropology Food Studies Centre Chair, SOAS Food Studies Centre Centre of African Studies Member
BSc, MSc, PhD (London School of Economics)
Russell Square: College Buildings
Email address
Telephone number
020 7898 4766
Support hours
Fridays 3:00pm - 5:00pm, please email me for an appointment.


Elizabeth Hull is Senior Lecturer in Anthropology and Deputy Chair of the SOAS Food Studies Centre. She received her PhD from the London School of Economics in 2009. She worked as a post-doctoral fellow at LSE before joining SOAS in 2010. Her first book, Contingent Citizens: Professional Aspiration in a South African Hospital, was published in 2017 with Bloomsbury as part of the LSE Monographs Series.

Office Hours:  Fridays, 3-5pm at the following link:

Meeting ID: 820 5272 8613

Passcode: 990106

Research interests

Since 2006, I have been conducting ethnographic research in the province of KwaZulu-Natal in South Africa. Recent research has focused on diverse livelihood practices in a densely populated rural area where jobs in the formal sector are scarce. This has led to an interest in the feasibility of small-scale farming as a component of livelihoods, and the ways in which formal and informal systems of food production and distribution intersect. A project funded by the Leverhulme Centre for Integrative Research on Agriculture and Health (LCIRAH) and the British Academy explored the links between farming livelihoods and health.

Building on this work, new research considers how economic conditions affect people’s abilities to plan for the future. How are aspirations formed in precarious and unpredictable situations (including ‘professional’ and ‘middle-class’ identities)? A central theme concerns the ways in which familial and social values intersect with fluctuating values for labour, money or food.

Based on earlier research, my book Contingent Citizens: Professional Aspiration in a South African Hospital (Bloomsbury, 2017) explores the ambiguous status of South Africa’s public-sector workers, and the implications for contemporary understandings of citizenship. It focuses on a group of nurses working in a rural government hospital in the province of KwaZulu-Natal, where staff shortages and a high burden of ill-health create severe challenges. The book argues that attention to ideologies of ‘professionalism’ can offer an important perspective on class formation and citizenship. The book manuscript won the London School of Economics First Monograph Competition in 2016.

Beyond SOAS, I am Book Reviews Editor at Africa: Journal of the International Africa Institute. I co-convene the Southern Africa Seminar Series, a London-wide forum for the discussion and dissemination of research in the humanities and social sciences focusing on the Southern African region. I also serve on the management committee of the London Centre for Integrative Research on Agriculture and Health (LCIRAH). This is a broad interdisciplinary network based at the London International Development Centre that aims to integrate research about agriculture and health.

Before joining SOAS I worked at the London School of Economics on an ESRC-funded project entitled ‘Investing, engaging in enterprise, gambling and getting into debt: popular economies and citizen expectations in South Africa’. We published the results in a special issue of Africa in 2012 which I co-edited.

PhD Supervision

Name Title
Khadija Alia Bah Impact of Crisis as a Condition on Individual and Intergenerational Aspirations (working title)
Theodore Parker Charles Crossing Borders; The Evolution of Food Traditions in Post-Ottoman Thrace
Felicity Davies Discussing (Dis)like : An Ethnographic Exploration Of Like and Dislike Within Korean Pop Music Audiences In The UK
Samuel Dic Sum Lai Jancingmei in Caacaanteng: A Sinophone Notion via a Hong Kong Foodway
Pauline Harlay Tea, Taste and Traders: Cultural Mediators and the Reinvention of the Chinese ‘Traditional’ Beverage (working title)


Contact Elizabeth