Dr Lucy Norris
Visiting Research Fellow

Lucy is a social anthropologist with a background in material culture. Her research focuses on cultural perceptions of materials, concepts of value, systems of exchange and recycling economies. She has worked in India, the UK and Germany researching local and global secondary economies, and is currently exploring design concepts for the emerging circular economy and their social contexts. Her research has been published in a range of academic journals and books, and she regularly presents at international conferences, seminars and workshops. Creative collaborations with visual artists have resulted in an accompanying body of work including photography, film and writing, disseminated through exhibitions, screenings and talks.


Research Interests


Lucy has carried out ethnographic fieldwork researching the life-cycle of clothing in Delhi, the textile recycling industry in north India, industrial handloom-weaving cooperatives in Kerala, and the structure of the used textile economy in the UK. Understanding the perceptions of materiality and concepts of value that underpin people’s sense of self and relationships to others is central to her work, and how these are implicated in wider exchange systems. This has led to new research questions concerning the design of products and systems as strategies for sustainability and social engagement with emerging models of the circular economy. These include the scales at which circularity of resources might be implemented, and their implications for how political and economic relations of power will be structured in the future.


Current Research Projects


  • Scaling in circular economy models: cities, regions and nations.
  • Creating alternative economies: open source and transparency.


      Key Expertise


      Anthropology; Ethnography; Material Culture; Theories of Value; Textile Economies; Global Recycling markets; Sustainability.


      Most Recent Published Work


      Exhibitions & Artistic Collaborations

      • Earley, Becky; Harvey, Bridget & Norris, Lucy. May 2016. Elastic Lives (Cultures of Resilience, UaL)
      • Norris, Lucy & Patey, Clare (Co-curators). 2012 Everything Must Go! Installation at the Bargehouse, South Bank, London.
      • Gupta, Meghna (Producer, Director) & Norris, Lucy (Executive Producer). 2012. Unravel, award-winning short documentary film about the textile recycling industry in Panipat, India.
      • Norris, Lucy (Curator) & Mitchell, Tim (Photographer). 2008-9. India Recycled, Horniman Museum, London. An exhibition resulting from a collaborative project to document textile recycling practices in Delhi and Panipat.



      • Norris, Lucy. 2010. Recycling Indian Clothing: Global Contexts of Reuse and Value. Bloomington, Indiana University Press.


      Journal Articles

      • Norris, Lucy. 2015. ‘Second-hand Clothing in India: the limits of ethicality in international markets’. Geoforum Special Issue: Ethical Consumption’.
      • Norris, Lucy. 2013. ‘Aesthetics and Ethics: upgrading textile production in northern Kerala’ in Geoforum. Vol 50, December, pp 221-231, http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.geoforum.2013.09.006
      • Crang, Michael, Alex Hughes, Nicky Gregson, Lucy Norris, Farid Ahamed. 2013. "Rethinking governance and value in commodity chains through global recycling networks." Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers 38(1): 12-24.
      • Norris, Lucy. 2012. ‘Economies of moral fibre: materializing the ambiguities of recycling charity clothing into aid blankets’ in Journal of Material Culture, Vol. 17(4), pp389-404
      • Norris, Lucy. 2012. ‘Trade and Transformations of Second-hand Clothing: an Introduction’ in Textile: the Journal of Cloth and Culture, Vol.10 (2) pp 128-143.


      Academic Book Chapters

      • Norris, Lucy. 2012. ‘Shoddy rags and relief blankets: Perceptions of textile recycling in north India’ in Alexander, Catherine and Reno, Josh (Eds.). Economies of Recycling: The global transformation of materials, values and social relations. London: Zed Books. Pp 35-58.
      • Norris, Lucy. 2011.‘Creating fame and fortune from the ruins of handloom in Kerala, southern India’ in McAnany, Patricia & Walter Little (Eds.) Textile Economies: Power and Value from the Local to the Transnational. Lanham, MD, Altamira Press. (Society for Economic Anthropology Monographs Vol. 29) Pp285-306.


      Conferences, Talks & Presentations

      • ‘The emerging politics of the global second-hand clothing trade: to reuse or to recycle?’ Paper given at the workshop Suitcases and Containers: Considering Trade, Migration and Urban Change (12th Dec. 2016), Laboratoire Interdisciplinaire d’Études Urbaines (LIEU) de la Maison de Sciences Humaines, Universite libre de Bruxelles.
      • ‘Unsustainable Circulations? The Indian Textile Recycling Economy’ (27th Sept. 2016). Seminar at the Center for Critical Heritage Studies, University of Gothenburg
      • ‘Everything Must Go! Putting the second-hand clothing trade on display’, presented at the seminar series ‘Surplus, Rags and Fashion: the Worlds of Secondhand Clothes’ at MuCEM, Marseilles, France. 27th March 2015.
      • ‘Re-circulations: Refashioning Value in the Global Second-hand Clothing trade’, presented at the panel ‘Fashion in Motion: Beyond East meets West’ at the Asian Studies Association-in-Asia conference at the Asia Research Institute, National University of Singapore, 17-19 July 2014.
      • ‘Second-hand clothing and the Limits of Ethicality’. Invited paper presented at the Geoforum conference Ethical consumption and the Globalising Middle classes, Dept. of Geography, Durham University, UK. 8-9th July 2014.
      • ‘Second-hand Clothing Markets in India’, presented at the conference Informal and Everyday Markets: Modern Histories of Indian Business and Entrepreneurship since the C19, Centre for Modern Indian Studies (CeMIS) and Institute for Economic and Social History, Georg-August Universität Göttingen, Germany. 18-20th June, 2014.
      • ‘Thrift, charity and commerce: markets and the production of moral value’ presented in absentia at the panel ‘Visibilization and Concealment: Social Critique and Anthropologies of Value’ at the American Ethnological Society (AES). Society for Visual Anthropology (SVA) Spring conference, Boston, USA.10-12th April 2014.
      • ‘Unravelling Waste Economies’. Invited paper presented at ‘Alternative and Emerging Economies of Design’, Papanek Symposium 2013, Victor J. Papanek Foundation, University of Applied Arts Vienna, Austria. Nov 14-15th 2013.
      • ‘The textile recycling industry in India: the destruction of value?’ Invited paper for a workshop on Second-hand Circulations in Global History, Tokyo International University, February 4th 2012, and the symposium Consuming textiles through their uses and reuses, National Museum of Ethnology (Minpaku), Osaka, Japan. February 7-8th, 2012.
      • 'Recycling economies: materializing the moral ambiguities of reprocessing secondhand clothing in India', Invited paper presented at the Ethnologisches Seminar, Universität Zürich, Switzerland. November 22nd 2011.
      • Global economies of moral fibre: materializing the ambiguities of recycling charity clothing into humanitarian aid blankets’, presented at the German Anthropological Association (GAA-DGV) Congress in Vienna, Austria. September 14th to 17th, 2011


      Websites: www.lucynorris.co.uk, https://www.ucl.ac.uk/anthropology/people/research-staff/lucy-norris

      Email:  lucy.norris@ucl.ac.uk


Norris Lucy

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