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Durham University

Department of Anthropology


Founded in 1967, the Department of Anthropology at Durham is now one of the largest integrated anthropology departments in the UK carrying out innovative research on cutting edge topics spanning social anthropology, evolutionary anthropology, and the anthropology of health. Our academics and postdoctoral researchers employ a wide range of social science and natural science perspectives to explore questions about human life in its evolutionary, environmental and cultural contexts. Our taught programmes offer students the opportunity to pursue general and specialist anthropology programmes at undergraduate and postgraduate levels, while our PhD students study topics from primate behaviour to rhetoric culture and indigenous knowledge to internet technologies. With our first-class facilities, innovative programmes, and world-leading academics, Durham is setting the agenda for 21st century anthropology.

World Rankings

Record success in QS World Subject Rankings

Durham is one of the world’s leading universities as shown by our world top 100 position in the QS World University Rankings 2019, where we are ranked 74th

A record 18 Durham subjects are also in the world top 100 of the QS World University Rankings by Subject 2019, including ten in the world top 50 and three in the world top ten.


Professor Helen Ball and the Sleep Lab Team were recognised with the prestigious Queen's Anniversary Prize for 2017.

Royal Honour for Durham University’s Parent-Infant Sleep Lab

Royal Honour for Durham University’s Parent-Infant Sleep Lab

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The Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall present the Queen’s Anniversary Prize to Professor Helen Ball, Director of the Parent-Infant Sleep Lab, and Professor Stuart Corbridge, Durham’s Vice-Chancellor, at a ceremony in Buckingham Palace on 22 February 2018. The award is in recognition of the University’s leading influential research on parent-infant sleep, and the ceremony is followed by a reception where the Duchess of Cornwall meets PhD students who have worked on Sleep Lab research projects and the manager of the Parent-Infant Sleep Lab, Dr Charlotte Russell.

Men's testosterone levels largely determined by childhood environment

Co-authored by Durham Anthropology's Prof Gillian Bentley, a Durham University-led study published in Nature Ecology & Evolution suggests that men who grow up in more challenging conditions where there are lots of infectious diseases, for example, are likely to have lower testosterone levels in later life than those who spend their childhood in healthier environments.

To read the study in full please click the link below:

Childhood ecology influences salivary testosterone, pubertal age and stature of Bangladeshi UK migrant men

And visit the links below for recent press coverage of the study:

Men’s testosterone levels determined by childhood conditions not genetics, study claims (Independent)

Healthier childhoods linked to increased prostate cancer risk (Telegraph)

Durham Arctic Research Centre for Training and Interdisciplinary Collaboration (DurhamARCTIC)

DurhamARCTIC is a doctoral training centre at Durham University, funded by a grant from the Leverhulme Trust to support Interdisciplinary Understanding for a Changing Arctic (DS-2017-070). Between 2018 and 2023 DurhamARCTIC is supporting 15 doctoral students at Durham University, each of whom is pursuing a research project that contributes to and benefits from a blend of disciplinary expertise and interdisciplinary enquiry.

https://www.dur.ac.uk/arctic/

Laidlaw Scholarship for Undergraduate Students

Opportunities for funded research placements in the department, see link for further information:

https://www.dur.ac.uk/undergraduate/study/finance/ugscholarships/laidlawscholarship/

“Our Lives with Electric Things”: Durham anthropologists publish a new collection of writing to extend the energy humanities.

Inspired by a Wenner-Gren funded workshop held at Durham in 2016, this new collection has been published in the Cultural Anthropology journal series ‘Theorizing the Contemporary’. The full collection includes 51 contributions, whose authors reflect on our lives with electric things, using electric artefacts to generate novel ethnographic insights.

Editor Professor Simone Abram says, ‘This collection is an inspiration for anthropologists and others to rethink how we live with electricity and reconsider the possibilities and limits of life with electric things’. With three co-editors from Edinburgh and Copenhagen, the collection covers electric fictions, backups, infrastructures, electric sustenance, electric air and more, making up 17 themes.

‘We are excited to bring together anthropologists from around the world to think about such pressing issues and invite readers to enjoy the collection and the inspiration it offers’ adds Prof Abram.

The collection can be read at:

https://culanth.org/fieldsights/1277-our-lives-with-electric-things

Testing electric cookstove prototypes, Myanmar

Modern Energy Cooking Services

Dr Ben Campbell (Anthropology department) has been funded for one year project by Modern Energy Cooking Services to conduct research on 'Positioning Biogas for Modern Energy Cooking Services'.

 

(26 Apr 2019) » More about Modern Energy Cooking Services


Chancellor's Medal Recipient 2019

Congratulations to Professor Robert Layton, Department of Anthropology, who is the 2019 recipient of the Chancellor's Medal. Professor Layton will receive his award at the Celebrating Excellence dinner on Monday, 29 April.

(22 Mar 2019)


Chimpanzees can sniff out strangers

Chimpanzees’ sense of smell is more sophisticated than we thought with a new study showing that our closest relatives use their noses to smell danger.

The study shows that chimpanzees can smell who is a stranger and who is part of their family.

It was previously thought that they relied more heavily on their eyes than on their noses.

Knowing who is in their inner circle helps the chimps to not only spot a suitable ally but also avoid mating with close relatives or attacking their own offspring.

Who carried out the research?

Professor Jo Setchell from the Department of Anthropology at Durham University who is an expert in primate behaviour and Dr Stefanie Henkel from the University of Leipzig and the Max Planck Institute for Evolutional Anthropology in Germany.

Where is the research published?

In the Royal Society Proceedings B. You can also see it in Durham Research Online.

Read more about the research with chimpanzees.

Find out more



(24 Oct 2018)


Life of Breath wins Health Humanities Inspiration Award

Life of Breath has scooped the first ever Health Humanities Medal Inspiration Award in recognition of the work the project has done to engage respiratory patients directly revealing their authentic stories and developing activities and materials aimed at reducing the stigma of breathlessness. 

Life of Breath, currently in its fourth of five years, is a collaboration between Durham and Bristol Universities, led by Professor Havi Carel and Professor Jane Macnaughton. The project, which is funded by a Wellcome Trust Senior Investigator Award, aims to make breathlessness and the associated suffering more visible. An interdisciplinary research team has been exploring the lived experience of breathing and breathlessness through philosophy, literature, anthropology, arts and history. 

A close relationship with the British Lung Foundation and patient support groups has led to the development of various activities and materials aimed at reducing the stigma of breathlessness by exposing the prejudices, as well as making people aware of their breath and how to maintain respiratory health. This has included a ‘patient toolkit’, supporting them to think about their breathlessness in a non-medical way, a ‘Singing for Breathing’ group in Bristol and a pilot project offering a dance programme for respiratory patients in the North East.

The Health Humanities Medal is a new scheme coordinated by the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC), in association with the Wellcome Trust, which recognises the very best research, impact and leadership. Life of Breath was just one of 100 entries across the five categories which were assessed by a panel of academics, health practitioners and industry professionals. Professor Edward Harcourt, Director of Research, Strategy and Innovation at the AHRC said: “The AHRC has always seen the importance of backing the health humanities. We were struck by the exceptional quality of the applications, which express a more inclusive vision of health and wellbeing and how to achieve it in ways that are not driven by medical science alone.”

(13 Sep 2018)


Men's testosterone levels largely determined by childhood environment

Co-authored by Durham Anthropology's Prof Gillian Bentley, a Durham University-led study published in Nature Ecology & Evolution suggests that men who grow up in more challenging conditions where there are lots of infectious diseases, for example, are likely to have lower testosterone levels in later life than those who spend their childhood in healthier environments.

To read the study in full please click the link below:

Childhood ecology influences salivary testosterone, pubertal age and stature of Bangladeshi UK migrant men

And visit the links below for recent press coverage of the study:

Men’s testosterone levels determined by childhood conditions not genetics, study claims (Independent)

Healthier childhoods linked to increased prostate cancer risk (Telegraph)

(26 Jun 2018)


Research that helps parents and babies sleep better gets Royal approval

Research that has helped to shape the way babies sleep and how parents care for them at night-time has been given the Royal seal of approval.

Durham Anthropology's Parent-Infant Sleep Lab has been awarded the Queen’s Anniversary Prize for Higher Education - the highest accolade for any academic institution and part of the national honours system in the United Kingdom.

For more details see click here

(26 Jun 2018)


“Our Lives with Electric Things”: Durham anthropologists publish a new collection of writing to extend the energy humanities

Inspired by a Wenner-Gren funded workshop held at Durham in 2016, this new collection has been published in the Cultural Anthropology journal series ‘Theorizing the Contemporary’. The full collection includes 51 contributions, whose authors reflect on our lives with electric things, using electric artefacts to generate novel ethnographic insights.

Editor Professor Simone Abram says, ‘This collection is an inspiration for anthropologists and others to rethink how we live with electricity and reconsider the possibilities and limits of life with electric things’. With three co-editors from Edinburgh and Copenhagen, the collection covers electric fictions, backups, infrastructures, electric sustenance, electric air and more, making up 17 themes.

‘We are excited to bring together anthropologists from around the world to think about such pressing issues and invite readers to enjoy the collection and the inspiration it offers’ adds Prof Abram.

The collection can be read at:

https://culanth.org/fieldsights/1277-our-lives-with-electric-things

(25 Jun 2018)


Why the World Needs Anthropologists: Powering the Planet Oct 28-29 2017

A hundred and forty two people from twenty countries attended this two day symposium at Durham. It was the fifth such symposium to be organised on behalf of the Energy Network of the European Association of Social Anthropologists Participants were drawn from a range of academic disciplines engaged in energy research as well as representatives from industry and third sector organisations. The Saturday programme for the first day of speakers and discussion panel is now available online (see below). The first day also featured twelve organisations with stands and publicity materials. These included two anthropology consultancies from Scandinavia; the EASA Energy Ethics Network; Low Carbon Energy for Development; Mygrid; Energethics and Access for Women in Energy. Sunday featured five well attended workshops located across the Durham campus, covering energy and development, corporate responsibility, local history and careers for anthropologists beyond the academy.

Thanks to all those at Durham who helped make the event such a success and to our several sponsors see http://www.applied-anthropology.com/organisers/

(11 Dec 2017) » More about Why the World Needs Anthropologists: Powering the Planet Oct 28-29 2017


Contact Details

Department of Anthropology
Durham University
Dawson Building,
South Road,
Durham, DH1 3LE
Queen's Anniversary Prize 2017

Gold rated for teaching excellence and student outcomes

Royal prize for Parent-Infant Sleep Lab

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