Dr Adam Reed

I conducted my original research in a prison just outside Port Moresby, the national capital of Papua New Guinea. That work focuses on issues around cultures of incarceration, including attention to colonial & postcolonial governmentality, the politics of vision, money, aesthetics of documents,articulations of loss and exile and popular narratives of nationhood, the city and crime. More recently, I have conducted research in the UK, working with members of a British literary society as well as with various groups of London knowledge producers (walking tour guides, Internet journal keepers). Out of these projects come my interests in popular theorizations of the city and urban imaginations, cultures of fiction reading, senses of place, the material culture of books, memory, mind and literary subjectivities. My current fieldwork in the UK looks at animal welfare and ethical self-fashioning in Scotland. I also have a new project working with Papua New Guinean migrants in Western Australia.

Research information

I have conducted research in the Pacific (specifically Papua New Guinea and Australia) and in the UK. My disciplinary interests fall within the fields of legal anthropology, anthropology and literature (including new media), urban anthropology, anthropology of ethics; and I have a new and growing interest in the anthropology of Christianity.

Most recently, I have co-edited a special issue on meetings, and organised a small conference on Anthropology and Character (with edited special sections in a journal to follow).

Selected publications

2018. ‘Introduction: Anthropology and Character 1’, with Bialecki, J. Social Anthropology 26 (2):  159-167.

2017. ‘Introduction: Towards an Ethnography of Meeting,’ with Brown, H & Yarrow, T. Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute 23, S1: 9-25.

2017. ‘An Office of Ethics: Meetings, Roles and Moral Enthusiasm,’ Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute 23, S1: 163-179.

2016. ‘Commons feeling in Animal Welfare and Online Libertarian Activism.’ In Releasing the Commons: Rethinking the Futures of the Commons, Amin & Howell (eds.) London: Routledge.

2016. ‘Crow Kill,’ In Animals, Biopolitics, Law: Lively Legalities, edited by I. Braverman. London: Routledge.

2017. 2015. ‘Snared: ethics and nature in animal protection’, Ethnos 82 (1): 68-85.

2015. ‘City of purposes: free life and libertarian activism in London,’ Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute 21: 181-198.

2011. ‘Inspiring Strathern’. In Recasting Anthropological Knowledge: Inspiration & Social Science. [eds.] Edwards, J & Petrovic-Steger, M. Cambridge: University of Cambridge Press.

2011. ‘Hope on remand’, Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute, 17, 3, 527-544

2011. ‘Literature and Agency in English Fiction Reading: a study of Henry Williamson Society, Manchester University & University of Toronto Press.

2011. ‘Number-One Enemy: Police, Violence and the Location of Adversaries in a Papua New Guinean Prison’, Oceania 81: 22-35.

2008. ‘Blog This: surfing the metropolis and the method of London’. Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute 14: 391-406.

2006. “Smuk is king”: the action of cigarettes in a Papua New Guinea prison’. In Thinking Through Things: theorising artefacts in ethnographic perspective. Henare, A., Holbraad, M. & Wastell, S. (eds.). Routledge.

2006. ‘Documents Unfolding.’ In: Documents: Artifacts of Modern Knowledge. Riles, A. (ed.). The University of Michigan Press.

2005. “My blog is me”: texts and persons in UK online journal culture (and anthropology)’. Ethnos 70 (2).

2004. ‘Expanding “Henry”: fiction reading and its artifacts in a British literary society’. American Ethnologist 31 (1).

2003: Papua New Guinea’s ‘last place’: experiences of constraint in a postcolonial prison. Berghahn Books: Oxford.

2002. ‘Henry and I: an ethnographic account of men’s fiction reading’. Ethnos, 67 (2).

2002. ‘City of details: interpreting the personality of London’. Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute 8 (1).

1999. ‘Anticipating Individuals. Modes of Vision and their Social Consequence in a Papua New Guinean Prison’. Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute, 5 (1).

Research supervision

Currently supervising:



Urban anthropology, anthropology and literature, history of anthropology, anthropology of Britain, anthropology of Melanesia, anthropology of Christianity.