- Dr Jamie Cross
- Senior Lecturer, Social Anthropology; Associate Dean (Knowledge Exchange and Impact), College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences
- Room 5.28 Chrystal Macmillan Building 15a George Square Edinburgh UK EH8 9LD
- Office: +44(0)1316515181 Mobile: +44(0)7552817310
- Research Interests
- Ethnography, International development, South Asia, renewable energy, Solar photovoltaics, Technology and society, Sub-Saharan Africa
I am a social anthropologist of 'development', interested in infrastructures, low carbon energy futures, corporations and social enterprises, work, labour and global supply chains.
Before joining the University of Edinburgh in 2011 I worked for the International Labour Organisation (ILO) and the Dutch Centre for Research on Multinationals (SOMO).
Details of my current teaching, research and public engagement can be found below. Open access links to my research publications can be found here. I am a co-editor of Pluto Press's Anthropology, Culture and Society book series.
I currently teach undergraduate and post-graduate courses in the anthropology of energy, international development and global political economy. For further details, see:
Since joining Edinburgh I have established a number of extra curricular initiatives that explore audio and visual methodologies, and connect teaching in anthropology to questions of power and economy in the field of design. For further details, see:
I supervise doctoral and postdoctoral scholars and welcome expressions of interest from anybody with overlapping research interests. For further details, see:
The Solar Future: Since 2011 I have been following the work of engineers and entrepreneurs involved in designing and distributing solar photovoltaic (PV) lighting systems to people who live without reliable access to mains electricity across India. As governments, international development donors and businesses commit themselves to realising targets for universal energy access this research examines the relationships involved in creating markets for renewable energy technologies in contexts of global poverty and the values, practices and meanings that mediate relations to electrically powered things. I have expanded my research in India with projects in Papua New Guinea, Kenya and Burkina Faso, and and am currently finishing a book, 'Everyone is Not Illuminated'. This work has led to a number of public engagement projects and to a new interest in the digital economy. I am currently exploring attempts to find value in poor people's energy data as part of the Energy Data for All research group and through a major new EPSRC funded project (2017-2019) which explores applications for blochains/distributed ledgers in East Africa's off grid energy markets
Infrastructure: From a focus on large-scale industrial development projects like India’s Special Economic Zones to a focus on technologies for energy generation and storage in places where there is no electricity grid, one strand of my research has involved an engagement with the social and material relationships that constitute infrastructure. A recent ESRC funded research project Off the Grid: Relational Infrastructures for Fragile Futures (2013-15) looked comparatively at infrastructures for energy and health in parts of rural India, Papua New Guinea and Scotland. I currently lead the ESRC/AHRC funded Displaced Energy project (2016-2018) which is developing qualitative approaches to energy infrastructures in refugee camps and settlements across sub Saharan Africa.
The Poverty Business: An ongoing strand of research is concerned with the role of transnational corporations and social enterprises as agents of development. From a focus on corporate social responsibility programmes to the role of the private sector in delivering goods and services to the global poor my research explores the moralities and social relationships that are shaped and articulated by market based approaches to development. I was co-founder of the Centre for New Economies of Development and lead the ESRC’s Seminar Series, ‘Doing Good by Doing Well: Capitalism, Humanitarianism and International Development’ (2014-2017). One outcome of this work has been a set of collectively produced resources and visual material on Humanitarian Goods.
Work, Labour and Global Supply Chains: My doctoral and post-doctoral research projects focused on the lived experience of industrial work and labour at sites of global manufacturing in contemporary India. I have written about the impact of liberalising economic reforms on industrial workers; on the aspirations for social mobility that manufacture consent to industrial work discipline; on occupational health and safety and on relationships between technology and gender in India's global workplaces. Elements of this work form the basis of my book Dream Zones: Anticipating Capitalism and Development in India published in 2014 by Pluto Press. I am currently working to extend this ongoing concern as part of the EU funded project (207-2020) Make IT Fair, which tracks issues of social and evironmental justice in the supply chains for micro-electronic goods.
Along with a commitment to field based, ethnographic research my work is built upon an on-going engagement with the issues I write about. I have been an occasional contributor to the LSE Review of Books and have written for The Guardian.
I am a co-founder of Urjaa Samadhan, a non-profit social enterprise that works to catalyse solar repair services in rural India. I also run the Off Grid Solar Scorecard, an initiative intended to draw attention to questions of material politics and sustainable design in the global solar industry. A short film, The Solar Fix (2016), is available here. I currently manage the Solar Cardboard project, which aims to build a open source, ethically sourced, solar powered lighting device around circular economy design principls. I am also a Technical Advisor to the Silicon Valley Toxics Coalition, a non-profit research and advocacy group that promotes social and environmental justice in the global solar industry.
If you are interested in being supervised by Jamie Cross, please see the links below for more information: