Department of Anthropology and Sociology

Collaborative Ethnographies of Parliaments

Exploring collaborative ethnographies of parliaments, politicians and people in Brazil, Ethiopia, Fiji, India, the US, and the UK.


This comparative ethnography of representation, relationships, and ruptures between parliaments, politicians and people in Brazil, Fiji, Ethiopia, India, the UK and the USA has been funded by the European Research Council since 2019.

Professor Emma Crewe at SOAS (PI), and Professor Cristina Leston-Bandeira at the University of Leeds (Co-I), lead a research team comprising Dr Richard Axelby and Dr Jastinder Kaur (SOAS), Professor Cristiane Brum Bernardes (Legislative School of Brazilian Chamber of Deputies), Dr Telma Holyer and Dr Giulia Fontes in Brazil, and Mitiku Tesfaye Gabrehiwot (Mekelle University, Ethiopia) on this five-year project.   

We are asking: how can anthropology and ethnography deepen our understanding of parliaments, enabling scholars, artists and practitioners to think critically about institutions, undertake political scrutiny and foster more inclusive forms of democracy?

Political communication is our central theme. Relationships between politicians and the people they represent are in turmoil and this is no more evident than on social media. Although the digital revolution has created unprecedented scope for political expression and debate, potentially acting as a connective tissue binding the public to politicians, the sobering reality of echo-chambers, polarised attacks and populist memes has tempered the optimism of many.

The institutions that lie at the heart of our democracies – parliaments – are disdained by the public and under-researched by scholars. At a time when in-depth political scrutiny has a vital role to play in addressing democratic deficits, this research is investigating the relationships between parliaments, politicians and people through collaborative interdisciplinary ethnography, photography and film.  

Our publications so far can be found on the You can find the results on the Global Research Network on Parliaments and People website.