SOAS University of London

Department of Anthropology and Sociology

Edward Simpson

BSoc.Sci(Manchester) PhD(London)
  • Overview
  • Teaching
  • Research
  • Expertise
  • Publications

Overview

Edward Simpson
Department of Anthropology and Sociology

Professor of Social Anthropology

Centre for Ethnographic Theory

Chair

Centre for Migration and Diaspora Studies

Member

SOAS South Asia Institute

Director, SOAS South Asia Institute

Centre for the Study of Pakistan

Academic Staff, Centre for the Study of Pakistan​

Name:
Professor Edward Simpson
Email address:
Telephone:
+44 (0)20 7898 4481
Fax:
+44 (0)20 7898 4699
Address:
SOAS University of London
Thornhaugh Street, Russell Square, London WC1H 0XG
Building:
Russell Square: College Buildings
Office No:
B400
Office Hours:
By appointment

Biography

Following a PhD at the London School of Economics (2001), I held a lectureship at Goldsmiths College before moving to SOAS in 2007. Over this period, I conducted extensive fieldwork in Gujarat, western India. Gradually, my research interests expanded to include first India and then South Asia. I co-founded the Centre for Ethnographic Theory (CET) in 2016 and became Director of the SOAS South Asia Institute (SSAI) in 2017. 

I continue to supervise doctoral students and encourage new research initiatives.

Teaching

Programmes Convened
PhD Students supervised
  • Chris Weeks, Human trafficking in the wake of natural disaster: the case of Typhoon Haiyan
  • Edoardo Siani,
  • Elisa Tamburo, "Anthropology of Moving House: the re-making of home among the mainlanders’ diaspora in Taiwan"
  • Emily Rose Stevenson, The Postcolonial Consumption of Colonial Legacies: The Contemporary Social Life of Postcards from British India.
  • Jas Kaur, Towards an Anthropology of Coups in Fiji.
  • Jonathan Galton, The word on the street: language use, language attitudes and identity in the context of urban change in Mumbai
  • Khadija Chennoufi-Gilkes, A discourse-network study of regional Amazigh cultural movements with a focus on the Rif region of Morocco.
  • Mak's Mabiala,
  • Michele Serafini, Playing at Football: Time, Pleasure and Identity Politics in Transnational Nepal.
  • Mukta Das, Social Delicacies: Indian Restaurants in Guangzhou.
  • Mustafa Khan, Development and Nation-Building in the Sindh Borderlands of Pakistan
  • Zoë Goodman, 'Asian' spaces in an 'African' city: an ethnography of postcolonial Mombasa

I am interested in supervising students seeking to undertake anthropological research in South Asia, as well as those wishing to work elsewhere in the world who are interested in the broader themes of history, religion, development and natural disaster.

Research

I believe that anthropology allows us to confront global challenges on a human scale. As such, anthropology has an important role to play in informing debate and decision-making processes.

I am currently interested in the relationship between infrastructure, automobility and the global-sustainability agenda. One of the questions to emerge from the project is: Whatever happened to climate change?

This research explores how ideologies become worth acting on or fighting for, and why some forms of knowledge are more convincing than others. How are individual and collective opinions formed? How do people 'know' about carbon, mobility and changing climate?

I am also interested in methodology, writing and forms of representation, notably film and visual media, and have an enduring collaborative relationship with the Mumbai-based artists CAMP

Current Project:

'Roads and the politics of thought: Ethnographic approaches to infrastructure development in South Asia' funded by the European Research Council.

Explores the politics of infrastructure in South Asia, asking: Why are so many roads being built in South Asia? On this project I am conducting fieldwork in India and on the Island of Réunion, France.

Work in India is being undertaken in Madhya Pradesh. I am attempting to untangle a stretch of toll road from the global financial system. Earlier this century, public-private infrastructure projects took off in a big way in the state, enticing a wide variety of investors into the market. Toll booths along the road became places of sociality, friction and surveillance (through CCTV technologies). They also became the sites of intense resource extraction from where tolls are ushered on a long journey of island hopping and cruising through the world of international finance.

On the volcanic outcrop of Réunion Island in the western Indian Ocean, the research focus shifts to climate change and infrastructure. The enthusiasm of the 1992 Rio Earth Summit took a few years to wash up on the island’s shores. When it did, ambitious plans for a tram were put in place to combat chronic car congestion (now 450,000 vehicles for a population of 850,000) and climate change. In 2010, with a change of government, these plans were scrapped and replaced with the idea of building a four-lane road bridge at sea parallel to the cliffs in the north-west corner of the island. This component of the project focuses on the history of island mobility against a backdrop of island life and the Metropolitan France and the discussions evoked by the New Route along the Littoral: extreme climate adaptation or a pharaonic environmental crime?

Recent Projects:

'Rural change and anthropological knowledge in post-colonial India: A comparative 'restudy' of F.G. Bailey, Adrian C. Mayer and David Pocock' funded by the Economic and Social Research Council. 

Critically engaged with change in rural post-colonial India through the 'restudy' of the work of a previous generation of anthropologists.

Previous Projects:

A comparative study of natural disasters funded by the Economic and Social Research Council. 

Examined the long-term aftermath of a number of disasters in Asia, with a strong ethnographic focus on the earthquake in Gujarat, 2001. The project resulted in the publication of The political biography of an earthquake: Aftermath and amnesia in Gujarat, India (2013).

http://www.hurstpublishers.com/book/the-political-biography-of-an-earthquake/

Muslim Society and the Indian Ocean: The Seafarers of Kachchh (2006) explores the lives of sailors from Gujarat against the backdrop of migration and politics in the Indian Ocean. This book emerged from my doctoral project and established the foundation for a long-term research interest in Gujarat. Read more

https://www.routledge.com/Muslim-Society-and-the-Western-Indian-Ocean-The-Seafarers-of-Kachchh/Simpson/p/book/9780415543774

Expertise

For help in contacting SOAS academics and advice on services to business and the community, please contact SOAS Enterprise on +44(0)20 7898 4837 or email enterprise@soas.ac.uk.
For all press and media enquiries please call +44 (0)20 7898 4135 or email comms@soas.ac.uk

Available for
Regional Expertise
  • South Asia
Country Expertise
  • India
Languages

Publications

Authored Books

Simpson, Edward (2013) The political biography of an earthquake: Aftermath and amnesia in Gujarat, India. London: Hurst.

Simpson, Edward (2006) Muslim society and the western Indian Ocean: The seafarers of Kachchh. London: Routledge.

Articles

Tilche, Alice and Simpson, Edward (2017) 'On trusting ethnography: Serendipity and the reflexive return to the fields of Gujarat'. Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute.

Simpson, Edward and Tilche, Alice and Sbriccoli, Tommaso and Jeffery, Patricia and Otten, Tina (2017) 'A Brief History of Incivility in Rural Postcolonial India: Caste, Religion, and Anthropology'. Comparative Studies in Society and History, (60) 1. [Forthcoming]

Simpson, Edward (2016) 'Village restudies: Trials and tribulations'. Economic and Political Weekly, (LI) 26-27, pp 33-42.

Otten, Tina and Simpson, Edward (2016) 'F.G. Bailey's Bisipara revisited'. Economic and Political Weekly, (LI) 26-27, pp 25-32.

Simpson, Edward (2016) 'Prospecting in Rajasthan'. Religion and Society: Advances in Research, (7), pp 27-31.

Simpson, Edward (2016) 'Is anthropology legal? Earthquake, blitzkrieg, and ethical futures'. Focaal: European Journal of Social Anthropology, (74) 1, pp 113-128.

Simpson, Edward and Serafini, Michele (2015) 'The neoliberal aftershock'. Himal (Southasian), (28) 2, pp 12-25.

Sbriccoli, Tommaso and Simpson, Edward (2013) 'Enacting nationalist history: Buildings, processions and sound in the making of a village in Central India'. Quaderni Asiatici, (104), pp 13-44.

Parry, Jonathan and Simpson, Edward (2011) 'David Pocock's Contributions and the legacy of Leavis'. Contributions to Indian Sociology, (44) 3, pp 331-359.

Simpson, Edward (2011) 'Blame Narratives and Religious Reason in the Aftermath of the 2001 Gujarat Earthquake'. South Asia: Journal of South Asian Studies, (34) 3, pp 421-438.

Simpson, Edward (2009) 'The influence of Hindu nationalism on rural reconstruction after the 2001 Gujarat Earthquake (translated into Chinese by Dong Wenqi)'. China Non Profit Review, (3), pp 82-112.

Simpson, Edward and de Alwis, Malathi (2008) 'Remembering natural disaster: Politics and culture of memorials in Gujarat and Sri Lanka'. Anthropology Today, (24) 4, pp 6-12.

Simpson, Edward (2007) 'State of play six years after Gujarat earthquake'. Economic and Political Weekly, (XLII) 11.

Simpson, Edward (2007) 'The changing perspectives on three Muslim men on the question of saint worship over a 10-year period in Gujarat, western India'. Modern Asian Studies, (42) 2 & 3, pp 377-403.

Simpson, Edward (2006) 'Apprenticeship in western India'. Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute, (12) 1, pp 151-171.

Simpson, Edward (2006) 'The state of Gujarat and the men without souls'. Critique of Anthropology, (26) 3, pp 331-348.

Simpson, Edward and Corbridge, Stuart (2006) 'The geography of things that may become memories: The 2001 earthquake in Kachchh-Gujarat and the politics of rehabilitation in the pre-memorial era'. Annals of the Association of American Geographers, (96) 3, pp 566-585.

Simpson, Edward (2005) 'The 'Gujarat' earthquake and the political economy of nostalgia'. Contributions to Indian Sociology, (39) 2, pp 219-249.

Simpson, Edward (2003) 'Migration and Islamic reform in a port town in western India'. Contributions to Indian Sociology, (37) 1 & 2, pp 83-108.

Edited Books

Simpson, Edward and Tilche, Alice, (eds.), (2016) The future of the rural world? India's villages 1950-2015. London: SOAS.

Simpson, Edward, (ed.), (2011) Society and history of Gujarat since 1800: A select bibliography of the English and European language sources. New Delhi: Orient Blackswan.

Simpson, Edward and Kapadia, Aparna, (eds.), (2010) The idea of Gujarat: History, ethnography and text. New Delhi: Orient Blackswan.

Simpson, Edward and Kresse, Kai, (eds.), (2007) Struggling with history: Islam and cosmopolitanism in the western Indian Ocean. London: Hurst and Company.

Book Chapters

Heitmeyer, Carolyn and Simpson, Edward (2014) 'The culture of prohibition in Gujarat, India'. In: Fischer-Tine, Harald and Tschurenev, Jana, (eds.), A history of alcohol and drugs in modern South Asia: Intoxicating affairs. Abingdon: Routledge, pp 203-218.

Simpson, Edward (2012) 'The anthropology of a "Disaster Boom" economy in western India'. In: Luig, Ute, (ed.), Negotiating disasters: Politics, prepresentation, meaning. Frankfurt: Peter Lang, pp 235-252.

Simpson, Edward (2012) 'The anthropology of aftermath'. In: Fardon, Richard and Harris, Olivia and Marchand, Trevor and Nuttall, Mark and Shore, Cris and Strang, Veronica and Wilson, Richard A., (eds.), The Sage Handbook of Social Anthropology (vol. 2). London: Sage, pp 329-338.

Simpson, Edward (2011) 'Kutch and the sea'. In: Varadarajan, Lokita, (ed.), Gujarat and the sea. Vadodara: Darshak Ithias Nidhi, pp 537-548.

Simpson, Edward (2008) 'Sailors that do not sail: Hinduism, anthropology and parochialism in the western Indian Ocean'. In: Basu, Helene, (ed.), Journeys and dwellings: Indian Ocean themes in South Asia. Hyderabad: Orient Longman, pp 90-120.

Simpson, Edward (2008) 'Why Bhatiyas are not "Banias" and why this matters: Economic success and religious worldview among a mercantile community of western India'. In: Lachaier, Pierre and Clémentin-Ojha, Catherine, (eds.), Divine richesses: religion et économie en monde marchand indien. Paris: École français d’Extrême-Orient, pp 91-111.

Simpson, Edward and Kresse, Kai (2007) 'The history of Bhuj as told by its own historians'. In: Simpson, Edward, (ed.), Struggling with history: Islam and cosmopolitanism in the western Indian Ocean. London: Hurst, pp 93-124.

Corbridge, Stuart and Simpson, Edward (2006) 'Militant cartographies and traumatic spaces: Ayodhya, Bhuj and the contested geographies of Hindutva'. In: Raju, Saraswati and Kumar, Satish, M and Corbridge, Stuart, (eds.), Colonial and post-colonial geographies of India. New Delhi: Sage, pp 70-84.

Simpson, Edward (2006) 'The rituals of rehabilitation: Rebuilding an urban neighbourhood after the Gujarat earthquake of 2001'. In: De Neve, Geert and Donner, Henrike, (eds.), The meaning of the local: Politics of place in Urban India. London: Routledge, pp 206-231.

Simpson, Edward (2004) ''Hindutva' as a rural planning paradigm in post-earthquake Gujarat'. In: Zavos, John and Wyatt, Andrew and Hewitt, Vernon, (eds.), The politics of cultural mobilization in India. New Delhi: Oxford University Press, pp 136-165.

Monographs and Working Papers

Kresse, Kai and Simpson, Edward (2011) Between Africa and India: Thinking comparatively across the western. ZMO Working Papers 5.

Simpson, Edward (2008) Was there discrimination in the distribution of resources after the earthquake in Gujarat? Imagination, epistemology, and the state in western India. London: London School of Economics and Political Science.

Simpson, Edward (2008) The rise and fall of collective public action in the aftermath of the Gujarat Earthquake of 2001. London: London School of Economics and Political Science.

Simpson, Edward (2008) The politics of loss, alienation and nostalgia after the ‘Gujarat’ Earthquake. Colombo: International Centre for Ethnic Studies.

 

This list was last generated on Wednesday, 18th October 2017, 06:40 Europe/London.