Susanna Rostas

Bye-Fellow in Social Anthropology
Social Anthropology HSPS
Contact number: 
01223 324938
Contact email address:
Year Joined Homerton: 

I am currently Director of Studies in Social Anthropology for Parts II A and B. I have held this position since 2005 and was awarded a Bye-Fellowship in 2015

As a Social Anthropologist, my research work has mainly focussed on Mexico. I carried out fieldwork for my D Phil (1986) in Chiapas (in the indigenous Tzeltal speaking community of Tenejapa) on their indigenous religion. This was followed by a short period of additional fieldwork on the conversion of many to various evangelical sects. I subsequently worked in Mexico City with dancers who aim(ed) to recreate the Aztec past and to become indigenous while often being in fact very mestizo. In 2010, I returned to work in Chiapas and am currently involved in a long term project on ‘Lekil Kuxlejal’ (the Tzeltal term for ‘Buena Vida’(Good life)). 

Research Interests: 

Indigenous ideology; Theatre/Performance;  Performance/Ritual; Religious Conversion; Identity; Ethnicity/Citizenship; Creativity/Restraint; Material culture and Visual Representations; Popular Culture; Anthropology of the Senses, Architecture/symbolism of Space.

Current Research Projects:

‘Lekil  Kuxlejal’ - a multifaceted project that includes an interrogation of the phrase (its history and recent appearance in the Tzeltal lexicon), work with indigenous intellectuals and the indigenous theatre group ‘Loil Maxil’, but linking this to the lived reaity of actual indigenous life (in particular to the new generation, the children of the couple who first befriended me some 35 years ago). 

Teaching And Professional Interests: 

Prospective PhD Applications:

I am currently co-supervising a PhD student in Latin American Studies

Course Involvements:

Supervisions for 1st year students taking the Anthropology paper as part of the HSPS degree

  • D. Phil Social Anthropology, Sussex University 1986
  • M. Phil Social Anthropology, Cambridge University 1979
  • I have previous degrees in Architecture (Bartlett School of Architecture, University College London B.Sc 1967, M.A 1970) and in Urban Planning (Columbia University, New York MS 1972)


  • ASA (Association of Social Anthropologists),


  • 2009 Carrying the Word: the Concheros dance in Mexico City', Colorado University Press; Denver  (Paperback Edition 2012)
  • 1993 The Popular Use of Popular Religion in Latin America, ed. and with an introduction by self & A. Droogers (Free University, Amsterdam), CEDLA, Holland. Reprint of introduction tn Alteridades, UAM, Mexico, 1995, Vol 5, No 9, pp 81-9


  • 2013 'Conchas, Candles and Flowers in the Creation of the Concheros’ Religiosity'         for Eds. Diana Espirito Santo and Nici Tassi, Making Spirits: Materiality and Transcendence in Contemporary Religions. London: IB Tauris, pp 57-80
  • 2008 'Los concheros en un contexto mundial: mexicanidad, el espiritualidad New Age y el sufismo como influencias en la danza' in Raices en moviemiento: practicas religiosas tradicionales en contextos translocales, coords Argyriadis, K., de la Torre, R., Gutierrez Zuniga, C., & Aguilar Ros, A.,  El Colegio de Jalisco: Jalisco, Mexico. pp.193-226.
  • 2003 'Women's Empowerment through Religious Change', Women of Chiapas: Making History in times of struggle and Hope, Ed., C. Eber & C Kovic.  Routledge: London
  • 2002 'Mexicanidad': the Resurgence of the Indian in Popular Mexican Nationalism'  Cambridge Anthropology,  vol 23. 1. 20-38
  • 1999 'A Grass Roots View of Religious Change Amongst Women in an Indigenous                    Community in Chiapas, Mexico'. Bulletin of Latin American Research, Vol 1                     18, No 3, 327-341
  • 1998a 'Performing 'Mexicanidad': Popular 'indigenismo' in Mexico City' in V. Napolitano and X Leyva-Solano, Encuentros Antropológicos: Power, Identity and Mobility in Mexican Society. London University: Institute of Latin American Studies, pp 56-68
  • 1998b 'The Concheros of Mexico: from Ritualization to Performativity', Ritual,  Performance, Media, Ed. F. Hughes Freeland, Routledge,  pp 85-103
  • 1996 'The Production of Gendered Imagery' in Machos, Mistresses, Madonnas, Ed. M Melhus and K-A. Stolen, London: Verso, pp 207-229/ Published in Spanish  2007 as 'La producion de imaginario de genero: los concheros de Mexico' ,  Machos, putas, santas. Editorial antropofagia: Buenos Aires.
  • 1994 Changing Images of Indianity: The Concheros of Mexico', Cambridge                             Anthropology, Ed. D. Phillipson and A. Herle, published to coincide with an                    exhibition 'Living Traditions' at the Museum of Archaeology & Anthropology,                        Cambridge; Vol 17;2  pp 38-56
  • 1993 'The Mexica's Reformulation of the Concheros' dance; the Popular Use of                          Autochthonous Religion in Mexico City', in Droogers and Rostas.
  • 1992 'Divine androgyny but 'his' story; the female in Aztec mythology', The Feminist Companion to Mythology, Ed. by Dr  C. Larrington, Pandora Press, pp 362-387
  • 1991 'The Concheros of  Mexico: a Search for Ethnic Identity', Dance Research, OUP, Vol IX, No 2, Autumn, pp 3-17

Architectural Articles:

  • 1995 ‘The Dance of Architecture: from Ritualization to Performativity and ..Back Again? Architectural Design, 124, 19-21
  • 1980 Habitat as Habitus',  The Architectural Association Quarterly,  (AAQ), Vol 12, No 2, pp 13-19
  • 1977 'The Psychology of Everyday Rooms', Architectural Psychology Newsletter Kingston Polytechnic School of Architecture, Vol IV, No.2