Department of Anthropology and Sociology

Dr Naomi Leite

Key information

Roles
Department of Anthropology and Sociology Reader in Anthropology Centre for Migration and Diaspora Studies Member
Qualifications
BA, MA, PhD (Berkeley)
Building
Russell Square: College Buildings
Office
591
Email address
nl15@soas.ac.uk
Telephone number
+44(0) 20 7898 4407
Support hours
By appointment

Biography

Office Hours: email for appointment

Naomi Leite is a Reader (Associate Professor) in Anthropology. She received her MA and PhD in sociocultural anthropology at the University of California, Berkeley, as well as her BA in history of art and religious studies.

A cultural and psychological anthropologist, Leite's work focuses on identity, identification, belonging, and exclusion across domains and scales of sociality. She is author of Unorthodox Kin: Portuguese Marranos and the Global Search for Belonging (University of California Press, 2017), winner of the 2018 Stirling Prize for Best Book in Psychological Anthropology, the 2018 Graburn Book Award in Anthropology of Tourism, 2017 National Jewish Book Award Finalist, and honourable mention for the 2017 Douglass Prize from the Society for the Anthropology of Europe. Her second book,  The Ethnography of Tourism (co-edited with Quetzil Castañeda and Kathleen M Adams, Rowman and Littlefield, 2019), was awarded the 2020 Edward Bruner Prize by the Anthropology of Tourism Interest Group of the American Anthropological Association. 

While grounded in the theoretical and methodological traditions of anthropology, her teaching and research are fundamentally interdisciplinary. Over the years she has developed and taught courses on identity (ethnic, religious, diasporic, ancestral), migration and diaspora, cultural dynamics of globalization, consumption, tourism and travel, material culture, gender, museums, and ethnographic research and writing, as well as introductory courses in social and cultural anthropology. Until 2017, she directed the SOAS MA Anthropology of Tourism and Travel and the weekly Anthropology of Tourism Colloquium Series. More recently, she has specialized in teaching fundamentals of anthropological research, analysis, and writing across the educational spectrum. 

Leite frequently consults for NGOs, government agencies, and businesses on issues relating to community identification and belonging, social exclusion, consumption, tourism and travel, and social inequality. She is Member-at-Large on the board of the European Network for Psychological Anthropology (ENPA). Previously, she was Co-Convenor of the Anthropology of Tourism Interest Group of the American Anthropological Association (2013-16). 

Research interests

As a whole, my work focuses on identity, identification, belonging, and exclusion across domains and scales of sociality, from the interpersonal to the institutional to the most abstractly imagined. I have a strong interest in cultural logics and modes of reasoning, lived experience, meaning-making, expressions of kinship and relatedness, and the social, cultural, and intersubjective constitution of self, especially in relation to prevailing systems of social classification.

Much of my work has explored these themes in tourism encounters, a context ripe for alternative expressions of self and enactments of cross-cultural (dis)identification. My first book, Unorthodox Kin: Portuguese Marranos and the Global Search for Belonging, brings all these interests together in an exploration of self-making and intersubjective encounter among urban Portuguese adults who self-identify as having hidden Inquisition-era Jewish ancestry and the foreign Jewish tourists and educators who travel to meet them.

My second book, the co-edited volume The Ethnography of Tourism: Edward Bruner and Beyond (with Quetzil Castañeda and Kathleen Adams, Rowman and Littlefield, 2019), examines the theoretical and ethnographic contributions to tourism research made by the American anthropologist Edward M. Bruner, particularly his pathbreaking work on lived experience, meaning-making, encounter, identity, and narrative in contexts of travel. I have also published on linkages between identity, imagination, and embodied experience in tourism encounters; museums and heritage; the history of anthropological theory; and theoretical and methodological approaches in the anthropology of tourism. I have conducted long-term fieldwork in Portugal, the United States, and England, and am developing plans for future research in Kenya.

I have ongoing publication projects in the areas of rationality and metacognition; cultural logics of kinship and peoplehood; and intersubjectivity and vulnerability in ethnographic practice.

I believe strongly in making the results of my work accessible to a wide audience and am committed to providing anthropological expertise for campaigns to create more humane, open, and just institutions. To that end, I frequently consult for NGOs, government agencies, and businesses on issues relating to community identification, belonging and exclusion, consumption, tourism and travel, and social inequality.

PhD Supervision

Name Title
Anna Britt Gordon Lofstrand High School as Diasporic Community Hubs: Identity Formation, Community Organisation, Coming of Age in an Urban, American High School
Anna Colquhoun Making local specialities: Food, place and value in Croatian Istria
Flora Hastings Occupied Orchards and Public Plant Rituals in Barcelona: An Ethnography of Shifting Relations to the Natural World and Spatial Re-Appropriations of the City
Yueh-Chou Ho Encountering the Ancestry by learning gaga: Field trips and the Development of Indigenous Identity in Atayal Schools of Taiwan.
Marie Launay-Smirnov Around the Monastic Table: The Experience of Monastic Food for Retreat Participants in France (working title)
Alexx Salazar Reimagining Culture and Tradition through Cambodian Shadow Puppets: Imaginaries and Narratives of Value in an Era of Restoration
Eric Smith Vintner A World of Our Own: The Negotiation of Cosmology in Contemporary Japanese Animation

Publications

Contact Naomi