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Matan Shapiro is a Social Anthropologist (PhD 2013, University College London). His ethnographic research to date has focused on the Israeli, Brazilian and Norwegian societies. His many publications cover such diverse issues as everyday ethics of relatedness in northeast Brazil; millenarianism among Bitcoin aficionados in Tel Aviv; the myth of ‘trust’ in south-western Norway; and paradox in spirit possession. Before joining KCL, Shapiro held several research and teaching posts in Israel (The University of Haifa and Ben Gurion University) and Norway (Bergen University and the University of Stavanger). He currently investigates how the securitization of data on the blockchain helps constitute decentralized moral communities.

Check out Shapiro's personal page on and research page at KCL.

Research interests and PhD supervision

  • Anthropology of play, paradox, and the imagination
  • Anthropology of ethics and morality
  • Kinship, relatedness, and intimacy
  • Philosophy of cryptography, decentralization and libertarianism
  • Digital sociality, open-source communities, the Metaverse, cryptocurrencies
  • Anthropology of surveillance

Selected publications

  • 2022. Introduction (co-written with Diana Espírito Santo). In: The Dynamic Cosmos: Paradox, Movement, and Theoretical Experimentation in the Anthropology of Spirit Possession. Espírito-Santo, Diana and Shaprio Matan (Eds.). Bloomsbury Press. ISBN 978-1-350-29885-9 (hardback).
  • 2021. Introduction. In: Mobius Anthropology: Essays on the Forming of Form. Handelman, Don, Shapiro Matan and Feldman, Jackie (Eds.). Berghahn Press. ISBN 978-1-78920-854-2 (hardback).
  • 2021. Brajisalem: Biblical Cosmology, Power Dynamics and the Brazilian Political Imagination. Ethnos 86(5): 832-852. DOI: 10.1080/00141844.2019.1696860
  • 2020. Dynamics of Movement: Intensity, Ritualized Play and the Cosmology of Kinship Relations in Northeast Brazil. Anthropological Theory 20(2): 193-220. Part of a Special Section on Play and Ritual. DOI:
  • 2015. Curving the Social, or, Why Antagonistic Rituals in Brazil are Variations on a Theme. Journal of Royal Anthropological Institute (JRAI) 22(1):47-66.


Shapiro has taught both at the graduate and undergraduate levels.

At the University of Haifa (2014-15), he lectured the course:

  • Anthropological Perspectives on Culture, Science and Magic (Undergraduate).

At Ben Gurion University (2015-2017), he lectured the courses:

  • The Country of the Future: Culture, Society and Political Economy in Brazil (undergraduate)
  • Play, Imagination and the Social Order (undergraduate and postgraduate)
  • Security and Preparedness in Israel: Ordinary Lives in Extraordinary Situations (taught in English to Overseas Undergraduate and Postgraduate Students).

At Hadassah College in Jerusalem (2019) he lectured the courses:

  • 'Introduction to Sociology' to undergraduate Sociology students
  • 'Ethics in Business: Anthropological Perspectives' to postgraduate (MA) students in Business Management (2019-20).

Expertise and public engagement