Dr Gwen Burnyeat has accepted a post as Lecturer (Assistant Professor) in Social Anthropology at the School of Social and Political Sciences, University of Edinburgh. She has also won a prestigious five-year Starting Grant from the European Research Council (now UKRI-funded), for her project "Stories of Divided Politics: Polarisation and Bridge-Building in Colombia and Britain". She was the only social scientist at Oxford to win one of these grants. This project develops further the research on polarisation and the Colombian peace process she conducted at Merton, to study experiences and perceptions of political divisions in both countries, and conduct fieldwork with people and organisations who try to build bridges across complex political divides.
During her time at Merton, Gwen turned her PhD thesis into a book, The Face of Peace: Government Pedagogy amid Disinformation in Colombia, published by the University of Chicago Press and launched at Merton in 2022, for which she won the 2023 Public Anthropologist Award, she co-edited a special issue on the anthropology of the social contract for the journal Critique of Anthropology with Dr Miranda Sheild Johanssen (UCL), and her first book, Chocolate, Politics and Peace-Building: An Ethnography of the Peace Community of San José de Apartadó, Colombia, was translated into Spanish. She conducted five months of new ethnographic fieldwork in Colombia across two visits in 2021 and 2022, studying polarisation in the wake of the 2016 peace accord between the government and the FARC guerrilla, which sought to end 50 years of war, listening to a cross-section of people in different regions with different political orientations about their perceptions and experiences of polarisation and its impact on peace.
As well as speaking at conferences and preparing articles based on this research, she is currently writing a third book on Colombia which combines creative fiction and scholarly research, and explores the role of storytelling in political divisions. While at Oxford, she taught at the School of Anthropology and Museum Ethnography (SAME), and organised a variety of events on Colombia with Merton, SAME, the Oxford Network of Peace Studies, the Ultimate Picture Palace, the Colombian Society, and peacebuilding organisation Embrace Dialogue, of which she is a member