Alice Wilson

Picture of Alice Wilson
Senior Lecturer in Social Anthropology
Department of Anthropology
University of Sussex
Research interests: state power, citizenship, redistribution and taxation, development, forced migration, veterans, liberation movements
Geographical area: Middle East, North Africa, the Sahara, Oman

See publications.

I am a social anthropologist, with research interests in the political and economic anthropology of the Middle East and North Africa. My work is concerned with transformations in the relationship between governing authorities and governed subjects. My monograph, Sovereignty in exile: a Saharan liberation movement governs (University of Pennsylvania Press, 2016), examines sovereignty through the case of the government-in-exile of Western Sahara’s liberation movement. Through a study of revolutionary social change, legal reform, democratization, and economic entwinements of aid and informal trade, Sovereignty in exile explores insights into state power brought to light by the changing significance of tribes amongst Western Sahara’s refugees.

Sovereignty in exile won Honorable Mention in the 2017 American Anthropological Association Middle East Section Book Award.

In related fieldwork and research, I have examined perceptions of the Arab Spring in North Africa. I have also further pursued the themes of exile, migration and social transformation from the perspective of post-exile forms of migration, and the spatial and social ambiguities of 'sedentarisation' in refugee camps for refugees who identify with life in nomadic encampments. I am a co-guest editor for a special issue with Geoforum on political legitimacy in anomalous governing authorities, such as unrecognised states, annexed territories and refugee populations.

I held a Cambridge Humanities Research Grant and Addison Wheeler Research Fellowship funds at Durham University for fieldwork for my second research project on legacies of the former liberation movement in Dhufar, southern Oman. I am currently working on my second monograph which examines how kinship practices and everyday socialising of some veterans generate ongoing social legacies of Dhufar's defeated revolution. I am also working on electoral practices which challenge traditional social hierarchies in southern Oman.

I currently teach undergraduate and graduate students across the following fields: political anthropology, economic anthropology, social theory and anthropology of the Middle East.

I joined the University of Sussex as a Lecturer in Social Anthropology in September 2016, and became a Senior Lecturer in 2018. Previously I enjoyed post-docs as an Addison Wheeler Research Fellow at Durham University (2014-2016) and as a Junior Research Fellow at Homerton College, University of Cambridge (2011-2016). I gained my PhD in Social Anthropology from the University of Cambridge (2011).

Working languages: English, French, Spanish (fluent); Arabic and Hassaniya dialect (excellent).

Selected publications.


Peer-reviewed articles (please contact me for a post-print):

Book chapters (please contact me for a post-print):

Background papers:

Book reviews:

  • Wilson, A. (2012) Review of San Martín, P. "Western Sahara: the refugee nation" , The Journal of North African Studies, DOI:10.1080/13629387.2012.702016
  • Wilson, A. (2009) Review of Finnström, S. "Living with bad surroundings. War, history and everyday moments in Northern Uganda." Cambridge Anthropology 29 (3), pp. 95-97.
  • Wilson, A. (2007) Review of Elyachar, J. Markets of Dispossession: NGOs, Economic Development and the State in Cairo. Cambridge Anthropology 27 (1), pp. 96-98.

Last updated: 7th January 2019
Alice Wilson
University of Sussex, Department of Anthropology