Dr Venya De Silva

Venya De Silva

Postdoctoral Associate

My research focuses on social change in contemporary South Asia. I am interested in understanding how people perceive the social, political, economic, and historical circumstances which shape their lives, and the processes by which they seek to endure, contest, or remake these conditions. My doctoral thesis examined how students in Colombo experienced the social transformations taking place in postwar Sri Lanka, and was based on 13 months of ethnographic fieldwork in Colombo. A key finding of my research was that young people living in Colombo were eager to play a role in postwar social change; however, they were also defining the terms of their participation in new and unexpected ways. Following on my doctoral work, my current research explores the modes and ethics of civic engagement in South Asian cities.

I have a longstanding interest in material culture and museum studies, particularly in the intersection between materiality, memory, and identity politics. I have worked at museums including the Pitt-Rivers Museum in Oxford, the Oxford Story Museum, the Connecticut Children’s Museum, and the Yale Peabody Museum.

Prior to commencing my postgraduate studies at the Institute of Social and Cultural Anthropology at the University of Oxford, I worked at the International Centre for Ethnic Studies and the Institute of Policy Studies in Colombo, Sri Lanka. 

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