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Department of Anthropology

Academic Staff

Prof Catherine Alexander

Telephone: +44 (0) 191 33 41622
Fax: +44 (0) 191 33 41615
Room number: D106B

(email at

I’ve carried out fieldwork in Turkey, Kazakhstan and Britain on changing relations between state, market and the third sector, the built environment, migration, waste and technology. My most recent period of fieldwork explored how formerly elite closed ‘nuclear’ towns in Kazakhstan were trying to re-connect to broader economies. I read English Literature at Durham, later moving to social anthropology at Cambridge University; inbetween I worked for a number of central government departments in Britain and Turkey. I moved to the Durham Anthropology Department in 2012 after ten years working in Goldsmiths.

Research Interests

  • Economic and political anthropology
  • Changing property regimes
  • Privatisation
  • Third / voluntary sector
  • Wastes (including recycling)
  • Bureaucracy
  • Indeterminacy
  • Failure
  • Inequalities
  • Migration
  • Urban anthropology
  • Social/public housing
  • Post-socialism
  • Middle East (Turkey)
  • Central Asia (Kazakhstan)
  • Britain


Authored book

Book review

  • Alexander, C. (2009). Review of One Homeland or two? The nationalization and transnationalization of Mongolia’s Kazakhs. Central Asian Survey 29(3): 361-3.

Chapter in book

  • Alexander, C. (2016). Charity and philanthropy. In International Encyclopaedia of Anthropology: Anthropology Beyond Text. Callan, H. Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell.
  • Alexander, C. (2015). Central Asia, Anthropology of. In International Encyclopedia of the Social & Behavioral Sciences (Second Edition). Wright, J. Elsevier. 3: 316-322.
  • Alexander, C., Gregson, N. & Gille, Z. (2013). Food waste. In The Handbook of Food Research. Murcott, A., Belasco, W. & Jackson, P. Bloomsbury. 471-485.
  • Alexander, C (2013). Soviet and Post-Soviet Planning in Almaty, Kazakhstan. In Public Sector Reform. Massey, A Sage Publications Ltd. 3: 165-181.
  • Alexander, C. (2013). The Garden as Occasional Domestic Space. In The Domestic Space Reader. Briganti, C. & Mezei, K. Toronto: University of Toronto Press.
  • Alexander, C. (2012). Economic valuations and environmental policy. In A Handbook of Economic Anthropology. Carrier, J. Edward Elgar. 451-468.
  • Alexander, C. & Reno, J. (2012). Introduction. In Economies of recycling: the global transformation of materials, values and social relations. Alexander, C. & Reno, J. London New York: Zed Books. 1-34.
  • Alexander, C. (2012). Remont: works in progress. In Economies of recycling: the global transformation of materials, values and social relations. Alexander, C. & Reno, J. Zed Books. 255-275.
  • Alexander, C. (2010). The Third Sector. In The Human Economy: a citizen's guide. Hart, K., Laville, J-L. & Cattani A. Polity Press. 213-224.
  • Alexander, C. (2009). Illusions of freedom: Polanyi and the third sector. In Market and society: The Great Transformation today. Hann, C. & Hart, K. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 221-239.
  • Alexander, C. (2009). Privatization: jokes, scandal and absurdity in a time of rapid change. In Ethnographies of moral reasoning: living paradoxes of a global age. Sykes, K. New York: Palgrave Macmillan. 43-65.
  • Alexander, C. (2008). Waste under socialism and after: a case-study from Almaty. In Enduring Socialism: Explorations of Revolution and Transformation, Restoration and Continuation. West, H. & Raman, P. Berghahn Books. 148-168.
  • Alexander, C. (2007). Almaty: rethinking the public sector. In Urban life in post-Soviet Asia. Alexander, C., Buchli, V. & Humphrey, C. UCL Press (Routledge). 70-101.
  • Alexander, C. & Buchli, V. (2007). Introduction. In Urban Life in post-Soviet Asia. Alexander, C., Buchli, V. & Humphrey, C. UCL Press (Routledge). 1-39.
  • Alexander, C. (2004). Values, Relations and Changing Bodies: Industrial Privatisation in Kazakhstan. In Property in Question: appropriation, recognition and value transformation in the global economy. Humphrey, C. & Verdery, K. Berghahn Books.

Edited book

Edited Journal

  • Alexander, Catherine, , Hojer Bruun, Maja, & Koch, Insa (2018). Moral Economies of Housing. Critique of Anthropology, 38 (2): Sage Publications Ltd.

Journal Article

Research Groups