Dr Brendan Donegan
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Dr Brendan Donegan
School/Organization/Current anthropological attachment
London School of Economics and Political Science


Within my work in the UK and in India, the central unifying themes have been a focus on economic and social development, community work and advocacy, and the potential for productive collaboration between university-based social scientists and practitioners working in the 'real world'.

After studying for a BA in Economics, Politics and International Studies and an MA in Politics at the University of Warwick, I completed my PhD in Social Anthropology at SOAS, University of London, in 2012, as a recipient of an ESRC 1+3 doctoral scholarship. My PhD project was an ethnographic study of community health work in rural Maharashtra state, in western India, with a particular focus on the role of civil society organisations in the Government of India’s National Rural Health Mission. My thesis proposes new ways of thinking about some of the practical challenges civil society organisations face when they seek to build effective partnerships with other civil society organisations and with government agencies.

Between September 2012 and September 2013 I worked as a lecturer in Goldsmiths Anthropology Department, teaching in courses on India, Environmental Anthropology, and Applied Anthropology and Community/Youth Work. In September 2013 I joined the Centre for Community Engagement Research at Goldsmiths as a research associate, and initiated two community research projects in collaboration with voluntary sector organisations in the London Borough of Lewisham. The purpose of these projects was to examine the impact of cuts in government spending on the poorest and most vulnerable sections of Lewisham’s population.

Since January 2014 I have been based in the Department of Anthropology at the London School of Economics, initially as a postdoctoral research fellow and, since March 2017, as a visiting fellow. During this period I carried out a new research project, studying the impact of industrial development in rural Tamil Nadu state, in south India, as part of the Programme of Research on Poverty and Inequality based within the Department (funded by the ESRC and ERC). This project analysed social change in a village where livelihoods shifted decisively from agriculture to industry three decades ago, when 25 factories were built around the village. My findings complicate conventional policy narratives about the role of industrial development in processes of economic and social change.

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