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Professor Laura A Lewis PhD

Professor of Anthropology

Professor Laura A Lewis's photo

Professor Laura A Lewis is a Professor of Anthropology in Modern Languages and Linguistics at the University of Southampton.

Professor Lewis received her PhD from the University of Chicago. With specializations in race and the African diaspora in Mexico and Latin America, she is the author of numerous articles and two books – an anthropological history and an ethnographic monograph. She is currently researching Latinx identities in the urban United States. With colleagues in Environment and Geography at the University Southampton, Professor Lewis is also a researcher on two collaborative projects on climate change, policy and water and food security in sub-Saharan Africa.

Professor Lewis has conducted long-term ethnographic fieldwork in rural Mexico, where she has also done extensive research in national and local archives. She has also done ethnographic fieldwork in Winston-Salem, North Carolina in the urban United States, and in rural Malawi in Southeastern Africa.

For her individual research in Mexico, she received Fellowships from the Wenner-Gren Foundation for Anthropological Research, the Organization of American States, the American Bar Foundation, the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation, the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Smithsonian Institution, and the Rockefeller Foundation. She has also been a Visiting Research Fellow at the Institute of Latin American Studies at the School of Advanced Studies, University of London.

Her first book, Hall of Mirrors: Power, Witchcraft and Caste in Colonial Mexico, won the American Society for Ethnohistory’s Erminie Wheeler-Voeglin Best Book Award in 2003. Both Hall of Mirrors and her second book, Chocolate and Corn Flour, History, Race and Place in the Making of 'Black' Mexico, are available here.

Her current collaborative work on Africa with African partner Universities and international organizations is supported by a £5 million four-year Research Councils UK Global Challenges Research Fund Challenges grant on Building Research Capacity for Sustainable Water and Food Security in Sub-Saharan Africa (BRECcIA) for work in Ghana, Kenya and Malawi, and a one year £150k Clusters grant, also from the RCUK GCRF, for Bridging National Strategy on Sustainable Development of Water-Energy-Food Systems to Local Scale Needs in Malawi.



Research interests

History and ethnography of race; Latin America and the Caribbean; Mexico; history and ethnography of Afro-Latin America; colonialism, nationalism, social movements, migration, transnationalism and globalization; visual and material culture; Latinx culture; gender; space and place; resilience, climate change, policy, water and food security, sub-Saharan Africa.

Research project


Research group

Debating Ethnography

Research project(s)

Building Research Capacity for Sustainable Water and Food Security in Sub-Saharan Africa (BRECcIA)

The overall vision of the BRECcIA project is to “strengthen individual research capabilities and institutional capacity in three countries: Kenya, Ghana and Malawi” and do this in order to carry out impactful and high-quality research that leads to positive changes in policy and practice for sustainable water and food security.

Professor Lewis is the dissertation coordinator for the Department of Modern Languages and Linguistics MLANG and MA in Language and Culture. Her teaching contributes to the MA in Language and Culture and to the UG degree in Spanish, Portuguese and Latin American Studies. For BRECcIA, she is the lead researcher on the Resilience theme, the Gender Champion and a member of the Executive Management Team. She has consulted for an International NGO on peacebuilding, environmental issues, and health, and edited the academic journal Visual Anthropology Review for six years. She continues her editing work on an ad hoc basis, including as a consultant. She also regularly reviews article and book manuscripts for numerous journals and academic publishers.

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Book Chapters


Professor Lewis currently co-ordinates and teaches the UG module Ethnography of Latin America (SPAN 2014) and the PGT module Research Skills, Dissertation Preparation (LANG 6029). She also lectures in the PGT module Transnational Movement in the Age of Globalisation (LANG 6024). In addition, as part of the BRECcIA project, she leads training sessions for 25 early career researchers (MA and PhD students and Post-Docs) from Ghana, Malawi, Kenya and the UK. These sessions include qualitative research, gender, and a summer ethnographic field school in rural Mitundu EPA, Malawi. In the past, she led summer study abroad programmes for American undergraduates to Mexico on Mexican Culture and Identity and to London on Britain and the Caribbean.

Professor Laura A Lewis
Building 65, Faculty of Arts and Humanities, University of Southampton, Avenue Campus, Highfield, Southampton SO17 1BF, United Kingdom

Room Number : 65/3073

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