Personal profile


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.

Research Statement

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.

Expertise related to UN Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This person’s work contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 10 - Reduced Inequalities
  • SDG 16 - Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions


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