Rachel Smith

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    • 47
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    20152021

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    Personal profile

    Research Profile

    I am a Lecturer in Anthropology and teach in Museum Studies. My background is in social and economic anthropology, and anthropology of religion, and have long-standing interests and experience in material and visual culture, and museums.

    My core research focused on local perspectives on development and social change in Vanuatu, an island nation in the Western Pacific. My doctoral project (2011-2016) focused on the ‘domestic moral economy’ in a rural Vanuatu community undergoing economic transformation due to a high degree of engagement in a labour mobility programme, touted as a ‘triple win’, ‘pro-poor’ alternative to development aid.

    My most recent research project (since 2018) extends my interest in work, consumption, moral economy, development, and value by focusing on the ethics and economy of kava, a crop traditionally grown and consumed as a relaxant beverage across the Pacific islands. Burgeoning international markets means demand for this commodity has soared, and kava is widely spoken of as ‘green gold’ by rural farmers in the small island nations of Vanuatu and Fiji, where it has become the main export commodity. In both the labour migration and kava projects I am interested in how socio-economic change is mediated by semiotic, material, and ritual processes.

    In addition to my work in economic anthropology, I continue to collaborate with an interdisciplinary team, including from Psychology and Neuroscience, formed at Stanford for the Templeton-funded ‘Mind and Spirit’ project (2016-2018). Through interdisciplinary and mixed method research, we examined the relation between understandings of mind and self, and religious experience. This has led to a range of workshops and publications, including scientific articles in PNAS and Nature Human Behavior.

     

    I have also published from archival research on land and labour in Vanuatu, and am developing research interests based on Scottish missionary collections and archives.

    Expertise related to UN Sustainable Development Goals

    In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This person’s work contributes towards the following SDG(s):

    • SDG 1 - No Poverty
    • SDG 10 - Reduced Inequalities

    Education/Academic qualification

    Arts & Social Sciences, PhD, Social Anthropology, University of Manchester

    Sep 20112016

    Arts & Social Sciences, Masters Degree, Anthropological Research, University of Manchester

    Sep 2010Aug 2011

    Arts & Social Sciences, Bachelors Degree, BSocSci (Hons) Social Anthropology

    Sep 2001Jul 2004

    Area of Expertise

    • Anthropology and Development Studies

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