Luci Attala

UWTSD Home  -  Institutes and Academies  -  Institute of Education and Humanities  -  Institute of Education and Humanities Staff  -  Associate Prof Luci Attala

Associate Prof Luci Attala  Dip RN, BA (Hons), PG Cert, PhD (Exeter)  

Senior Lecturer in Social Anthropology

Tel: 01570 424941

  • Senior Lecturer in Social Anthropology
  • Programme Director for Undergraduate and Postgraduate studies in Anthropology
  • Faculty Learning and Teaching Lead
  • Faculty Sustainability Committee Rep

Current Teaching

  • People’s Worlds: Lives and Livelihoods 
  • Interactions with the Environment: making things, transforming things 
  • Materialities in Anthropology 
  • In the Field 
  • Human Evolution and Hunter Gatherers 
  • Family, Gender and Sexuality 
  • Key Debates in Anthropology
  • Independent Project
  • Dissertation

Senior Fellow of the Higher Education Academy

Luci Attala is a Senior Lecturer in Anthropology and a Senior Fellow of the Higher Education Academy. Luci champions experiential and active learning as the route to empowering graduates to be able to seek solutions to today’s global problems.

Recently charged with redesigning the delivery methods for all disciplines on the Faculty of Humanities, Luci has created a system that aims to draw students’ potential out experientially whilst furnishing them with a broad set of skills that are designed to increase their confidence to act.

Learning with (not about) the world is at the root of anthropology. Taking inspiration from participant observation and ethnographic methodology, Luci maintains that allowing her students to lead her as much as the other way around liberates novel and astonishing conclusions, associations and learnings for all.

Luci sits on Oxford University’s Educere Network. Comprised of anthropologists and policy makers, the network aims to synergise the fields of education, wellbeing and sustainability through exploration of alternative methods of learning alongside indigenous pedagogies. In 2015 she received the Green Gown Award for her inspirational contribution to sustainable education.

Luci's research interests are underpinned by a focus on materialities with specific attention afforded to water. Luci is currently exploring the role water plays in shaping lives in rural Kenya, Spain and Wales, but also considers water’s part in organizing human bodies and social behaviours more widely. Taking inspiration from post-humanism, the morethanhuman move and multispecies ethnographies, her work asks the question ‘how does water make us human’ and adopts a new materialities framework - that draws the physics of relating substances to the foreground - to obtain an answer.

Luci co-edits the #LampeterMatters book series with Louise Steel. The series adopts a New Materialities approach that explores the role materials play in shaping human lives. 

I have conducted regular ethnographic fieldwork with the Giriama in Bore Koromi near Malindi in the Coastal Province of Kenya since 2010. My research primarily concerns water acquisition in rural east Kenya where semi-peripatetic horticulturalists are negotiating and adapting to deepening drought as a result of climate change. It specifically attends to the socio-economic consequences of the commodification of water for people who have traditionally relied on rainfall that comes without a pecuniary cost. Consequently, it engages with wider debates that circulate sustainability, development, social justice, environment and water – including: meanings and materiality. 

Luci’s work in Kenya is supported by the Wenner Gren Foundation and was recognized in 2014 by the United Nations with the receipt of a Gold Star Award.


  • Water, including water security and the materiality of water
  • East Africa, specifically rural Kenya
  • Giriama
  • New Materialities
  • Edibility, plant agency, ethnobotany

Attala, L. Forthcoming, How Water Make us Human Cardiff: University of Wales Press.

Attala, L., and Steel, L., (eds.) Forthcoming, Body Matters Cardiff: University of Wales Press.

Attala, L. Forthcoming, Mind the Gap! Exploring the Gap Between Harmony and the Watery Materiality of Climate Change(s) in Rural Kenya In Campion, N. The Harmony Debates Bath: Sophia Press.

Attala, L. 2017 Plastic Waste Environment – published parliamentary enquiry paper concerning plastic packaging.

Attala, L. 2017 “The Edibility Approach”: Using Edibility to Explore Relationships, Plant Agency and the Porosity of Species’ Boundaries. Advances in Anthropology, 7, pp. 125-145.

Forde, E., Wright, S., and Attala, L. (eds.) 2016 'Co-producing Mental Health Services in Hywel Dda: A Report of Engagement with Public, Staff and Stakeholders' In collaboration with Hywel DdaHealth Authority, Ceredigion, Wales.

Attala, L. 2016 ‘Digesting ‘Cryptid’ Snakes: A Phenomenological Approach to the
​​Mythic and Cosmogenetic Properties of Serpent Hallucinations’ in Hurn. S (ed.) Cryptozoology: Cross Cultural Engagements with Mysterious Creatures, Ashgate: London.
Attala, L. 2016Thirsty Bodies: Exploring how Water Transforms Relationships in Rural Kenya’ in Zinn, K., and Steel, L. (eds.) Embodied Encounters London: Routledge.
Abbots, EJ, Lavis, A., and Attala, L. (eds.) 2015 Careful Eating: Bodies, Food and Care London: Ashgate.
Abbots, EJ., and Attala, L. 2014 ‘It’s Not What You Eat but How and That you eat: Social Media, Counter-Discourses and Disciplined Ingestion Among Amateur Competitive Eater Geoforum, Special issue on Food/Space/Media. Doi:

My work in Kenya has been recognized by the United Nations twice. Initially in 2013 it was highly commended and then, in 2014, The Community Carbon Link project I work on received a UN Gold Star Award because of the contribution made towards realizing the UN’s Millennium Development Goals. Keen on ensuring that my relationship with the community is reciprocal, I am currently in the process of constructing a Forest Research Centre in Kenya in partnership with a local group called the Bore Green Umbrella.

The aim is to establish a base for students and researchers to learn about sustainability on the front line of climate change, and thereby generate an alternative income to the unsustainable charcoal production that the local population now relies on.

Having originally trained as a nurse, Luci uses her expertise in both anthropology and health/social care to teach in the School of Health and Social Care for the Open University. There she is responsible for a selection of modules that concern themselves with how both health and care are conceived of as well as how they are best achieved.