Caroline Humphrey (Spring 2014)

Professor Dame Caroline Humphrey from Cambridge University (Social Anthropology) will be the spring GLASS visiting scholar (March 5-7, 2014) 

GLASS Events with Caroline Humphrey

Mar 5, 2014
Lecture:Remote Areas and Minoritised Spatial Orders at the Russia-Mongolia Border
3pm - 5pm
Gravensteen, Rm. 11

March 6, 2014
10am - 1pm
(application info)

Mar 7, 2014
Faculty Roundtable: International Borders and the Incoherent State
11am - 1pm
Gravensteen, Rm. 11

Caroline Humphrey, FBA, is an anthropologist who has worked in Russia, Mongolia, China (Inner Mongolia and Heilongjiang), India, Nepal and Ukraine. She has researched a wide range of themes including Soviet and post-Soviet provincial economy and society; Buryat and Daur shamanism; Jain religion and ritual; trade and barter in Nepal; environment and the pastoral economy in Mongolia; and the history and contemporary situation of Buddhism, especially in Inner Mongolia. She has written on inequality and exclusion; the politics of memory; naming practices; ethics and conceptions of freedom. Recent research has concerned urban transformations in post-Socialist cities (Buryatia; Uzbekistan, Ukraine). Currently she is developing a research project on socio-political interactions on the Russian–Mongolian–Chinese border.

Caroline Humphrey's PhD (1973) from the University of Cambridge was on 'Magical Drawings in the Religions of the Buryats', supervised by Edmund Leach. Since 1978 she has held appointments in the Department of Social Anthropology(Cambridge). Together with Urgunge Onon she founded the Mongolia and Inner Asia Studies Unit (MIASU) in 1986. She retired from her post as Sigrid Rausing Professor of Collaborative Anthropology, University of Cambridge in October 2010 and became Director of MIASU.

Caroline Humphrey was made a Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire (DBE) for services to scholarship in the 2010 New Year Honours list.

Selected Publications


1983 Karl Marx Collective: Economy, Society and Religion in a Siberian Collective Farm, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. [Staley Prize, School of American Research]

2002 The Unmaking of Soviet Life: Everyday Economies After Socialism, Cornell: Cornell University Press. [Heldt Prize]

Edited Volumes and Journal Speci al Issues

2004 Property in Question: Value Transformation in the Global Economy, edited by Caroline Humphrey and Katherine Verdery. Oxford: Berg. This book contains an introduction, ‘Introduction: Raising Questions about Property’, by Caroline Humphrey and Katherine Verdery.

2007 Urban Life in Post-Soviet Central Asia, edited by Catherine Alexander, Victor Buchli and Caroline Humphrey. London: UCL Press. This book contains a chapter by Caroline Humphrey, ‘New Subjects and Situated Interdependence: After Privatisation in the City of Ulan-Ude.’ 175-207.

2012 Frontier Encounters: Knowledge and Practice at the Russian, Chinese and Mongolian Border, edited by Franck Billé, Grégory Delaplace and Caroline Humphrey. Cambridge: Open Book Publishers. This book contains a chapter by Caroline Humphrey, 'Concepts of "Russia" and their relation to the border with China.' 55-70.

2012 Post-Cosmopolitan Cities: Explorations of Urban Coexistence, edited by Caroline Humphrey and Vera Skvirskaja. Oxford and New York: Berghahn Books. This book contains a chapter by Caroline Humphrey, 'Odessa: pogroms in a cosmopolitan city.' 17-64.

2012 Cosmologies of Fortune: Luck, Vitality and Uncontrolled Relatedness. Edited by Giovanni da Col and Caroline Humphrey. Social Analysis, Vol 56, number 1.

2012 Future and Fortune: Contingency, Morality and Anticipation of Everyday Life. Edited by Giovanni Da Col and Caroline Humphrey. Social Analysis, vol 56, no 2.


2004 ‘Cosmopolitanism and kosmopolitizm in the political life of Soviet citizens’,Focaal: European Journal of Anthropology, no 44 (2004), 138-54.

2005 ‘Ideology in infrastructure: architecture and Soviet imagination,’ Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute. Vol 11 no 1, March 2005, 39-58

2005 ‘Regret as a political intervention: an essay on the historical anthropology of the early Mongols’, Past and Present. No 186, Feb 2005. 3-45.

2009 ‘The mask and the face: imagination and social life in Russian chat-rooms and beyond’, Ethnos, vol 74 no 1. Special issue: Technologies of the Imagination. 31-50

2009 (with Vera Skvirskaya) ‘Trading places: post-Soviet container markets and the city’, Focaal: European Journal of Anthropology. Vol 55. 61-73.

2009 ‘Sex in the city: the new polygamy,’ Cambridge Anthropology, Vol 29, no 2, 21-25

2010 ‘Remembering 1989 and its aftermaths in the depths of Russia,’ Focaal: European Journal of Anthropology, Vol 9, no 2, 112-6

2012 'Favors and "normal heroes": the case of postsocialist higher education,' HAUJournal of Ethnographic Theory 2 (2):

2012 'Inequality', chapter for A Companion to Moral Anthropology, edited by Didier Fassin. Wiley-Blackwell.

2012 'Elements: assessing the historical core of anthropology,' in James Carrier Handbook of Anthropology. London and New York: Berg.

Last Modified: 10-02-2014