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Dr Matthew Doyle
UCL Anthropology
Dr Matthew Doyle profile picture
  • Associate Lecturer (teaching) in Social Anthropology
  • Dept of Anthropology
  • Faculty of S&HS

I am a social anthropologist who studies state reform, decolonisation and indigenous politics in Latin America. I am Programme Lead for the MSc in Social and Cultural Anthropology at UCL and was previously a Teaching Fellow at the University of Southampton. I completed my ESRC funded PhD in Social Anthropology in 2019 at the University of Sussex, where I founded the Social Science and Ethics Research Group: an interdisciplinary network of academics interested in the empirical study of ethics and morality. Prior to my PhD studies, I worked as a high school social science teacher in Colombia and Spain, as a rural development worker and as the coordinator of an educational project for refugee children.

Research Summary

My field research examined how the national Bolivian government has sought to include the country's indigenous majority population within the nation state, to establish new rights and forms of citizenship and to build alternatives to capitalist development. This investigated the effects of reforms, which aim to devolve political and juridical power to indigenous groups, on the local governmental institutions of a rural Quechua-speaking indigenous community. Paradoxically, this process helped stoke conflict among local leaders over understandings of group identity, justice, development and knowledge. This forms the basis of a forthcoming monograph with Manchester University Press titled 'Decolonising the State? Political Conflict in the New Bolivia of the Movement for Socialism'. It explores the wider significance of this case study for analysing reforms enacted by progressive governments throughout Latin America which have attempted to remake the state in favour of historically marginalised peoples and to end the internal colonialism that has characterised their societies.

I am currently developing a new research project on indigenous universities: higher education institutions that integrate indigenous practices and perspectives into teaching and research. This aims to provide a vital contribution to current debates on the decolonisation of universities and to build transnational networks of knowledge exchange between indigenous and non-indigenous scholars.

A recent invited talk which outlines the argument of my book can be found here 

My main theoretical interests are political and legal anthropology, the anthropology of the state and the social scientific study of ethics and morality. I have also published work on higher education reform, legal pluralism and development.

Recent projects I have led include:

  • 'The Politics of Indigenous Religious Ritual in Urban Bolivia' was funded by a Society for Latin American Studies (SLAS) Postdoctoral Research Grant. This investigated how, in contemporary Bolivia, religious rituals are used by rural-urban indigenous migrants in mass cultural events and political protests to occupy and redefine urban space.

  • 'Methodologies in the Anthropology of Ethics' was a three-day international symposium which brought together leading figures in anthropology who study ethics and morality in human social life.

  • I convened an interdisciplinary workshop funded by a Sussex Sussex Research and Knowledge Exchange Opportunities Award on the study of morality. This brought together anthropologists, philosophers, psychologists, neuroscientists and behavioral economists.

The full programme of Methodologies in the Anthropology of Ethics can be found here

Along with recordings of workshops on Experience and the Human Condition, Social Action and the Everyday and Mind, Cognition, and Culture.

Teaching Summary
  • Critical Issues in Social and Cultural Anthropology (course lead)
  • Theory, Ethnography and Comparative Analysis (course lead)
  • The Anthropology of Crime (course lead)
  • Introduction to Social Anthropology (course lead)
  • Anthropological Methods
  • Being Human
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