BA (Hons), Diploma, PhD (University of London)
Professor of Anthropology
Director of Research - Anthropology and Ethnomusicology
SWAN Athena co-ordinator
Tel: +44 (0) 28 9097 3702
I conducted lengthy fieldwork in Papua New Guinea, where I lived for seven years and also taught at the university in Port Moresby. My first book, The production of inequality, investigated political and economic processes in egalitarian Melanesian societies, arguing that gender relations modelled and disguised relations of inequality. My research interests have now extended to philosophical approaches in anthropology (especially phenomenology, theories of the self, morality, ethics and emotions). My latest book Melanesian Odysseys is a culmination of my Papua New Guinea Fieldwork and combines interests in narrative genres and theories of the self, communicative practices within a contested and changing moral and political universe, and local and anthropological knowledge.
My current research straddles anthropology and philosophy. It is best exemplified in the title of my 2009 lectures for the Oslo Postgraduate Summer School in Comparative Social Science Studies: Thinking Philosophically in Anthropology: Approaches to the Self, Morality and Cosmopolitanism. I seek to develop a philosophical anthropology from a perspective which emphasizes actual social practice. My enquiry into the moral underpinnings of human rights and ideas of cosmopolitanism grounds them in understandings of what it means to be human as exemplified in everyday practices, life experiences, and the moral/legal codes of different societies. I am also preparing for publication two books from two conferences: Cosmopolitanism, Existentialism and Morality: Anthropological Perspectives (with my former PhD student Alex Hall), and (provisionally titled) Recontextualising Anthropological Knowledge: Building on the Work of Marilyn Strathern.
The Production of Inequality (Tavistock, 1985).
‘Speaking-with and Feeling-with: the Phenomenology of Knowing the Other.’ In A.S. Gronseth and D.L. Davis (eds), Making Sense: Between Alterity and Identity in Ethnographic Encounters (Sean Kingston Publishing, 2010).
‘Virtual Returns: Fieldwork Recollected in Tranquillity.’ In T. Lau, C. High and L. Chua (eds) How Do We Know? Evidence, Ethnography, and the Making of Anthropological Knowledge ( Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2008).
‘The Aesthetics of Politics: Transforming Genres and Meanings in Melanesia.’ In P. J. Stewart and A.J. Strathern (eds) Expressive Genres and Historical Change (Ashgate Press, 2005).
‘Moral and Practical Frameworks for the Self.’ In J. Robbins and H. Wardlow (eds), The Making of Global and Local Modernities in Melanesia: Humiliation, Transformation, and the Nature of Cultural Change (Ashgate Press, 2005).
‘Resentment as a Sense of Self.’ In Kay Milton and Maruska Svasek (eds), Mixed Emotions (Berg, 2005).
‘The Rights of Being Human.’ In R. Wilson and J. Mitchell (eds), Human Rights in Global Perspective: Anthropological Studies of Rights, Claims and Entitlements (Routledge, 2003).
‘Being There: The Magic of Presence or the Metaphysics of Morality.’ In Pat Caplan (ed.), The Ethics of Anthropology: Debates and Dilemmas (Routledge, 2003).
‘Straight Talk, Hidden Talk, and Modernity: Shifts in Discourse Strategies in Highland New Guinea .’ In J. Hendry and C. W. Watson (eds), An Anthropology of Indirect Communication (Routledge, 2001).
'Disengagement and desire: the tactics of everyday life.'In American Ethnologist 26 (1): 139-59 (1999).
'Myths of containment, myths of extension: creating relations across boundaries.' In L. R. Goldman and C. Ballard (eds), Fluid Ontologies: Myth, Ritual and Philosophy in the Highlands of Papua New Guinea (Bergin & Garvey, 1998).
'Representing the anthropologist's predicament.' In A. James, J. Hockey, and A. Dawson (eds), After Writing Culture: Epistemology and Praxis in Contemporary Anthropology (Routledge, 1997).