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Department of Anthropology

Academic Staff

Dr Simone Abram, DPhil MSt BSc/MEng SFHEA

DEI Co-Director in the Durham Energy Institute

(email at


My publications so far reflect my core theoretical interests have been in science studies applied to government, and in questions of inhabitation and property. My main theoretical contribution has been related to bringing these two fields together, a project I began in collaboration with the late Jonathan Murdoch. I explored the political processes that shape the landscape and built environment through the planning system, examining the policies and practices of public participation. The fullest account of this work was published as ‘Rationalities of Planning’, but a range of articles and book chapters relate broader reflections on this work. A particular challenge has been to open up a space in anthropological thinking for domestic state planning, a field that has until recently not been considered fully ‘anthropological’, and I began this process with the publication of the EASA edited volume ‘Anthropological Perspectives on Local Development’ in 1998.

In 2000, I was invited to be a Visiting Research Fellow at the epartment of Social Anthropology at Oslo University, and combined with an ESRC research award, I was able to conduct fieldwork in a Norwegian local authority. Through various articles and book chapters, I have outlined the process of neo-liberalisation of Norwegian local government, in comparison with the introduction of New Public Management in the UK and demonstrated the effects on individual bureaucrats. My recent monograph, ‘Culture and Planning’ synthesises many of the observations and theoretical questions that were raised in my empirical research in both England and Norway. It aims to challenge established uses of the term ‘culture’ and ‘cultural’ in planning practice and education, and already appears on planning studies reading lists.

My current research aims are to apply this experience to the field of energy, building on my first qualification in power engineering. The focus is on relating different disciplinary perspectives on energy and society, including he governance of energy developments, recent transformations of energy markets and the changing social and political significance of energy.

A general concern with the concept of disciplines and the means for public communication of research has found expression in collaborative projects, and through use of audio-visual and online media in both research and dissemination.

Research Interests

  • Energy and Society
  • Inhabitation and Property
  • Local Planning
  • Practices of Public Participation

Selected Publications

  • 1: Pink, S. & Abram, S. (2015). Media, Anthropology and Public Engagement. Oxford: Berghahn.
  • 2: Abram, S. & Weszkalnys, G. (2013). Elusive promises: planning in the contemporary world. Dislocations. Oxford: Berghahn.
  • 3: Abram, S. & Lund, K.A. (2016). Green Ice. Tourism Ecologies in the European High North. Palgrave Macmillan.
  • 4: Abram, S. (2011). Culture and Planning. Ashgate.
  • 5: Abram, S. (2014). The time it takes: temporalities of planning. Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute 20(S1): 129 -147.
  • 6: Abram, S. (2012). The ‘Normal’ Cabin’s revenge: Building Norwegian (Holiday) Home-Cultures. Home Cultures 9(3): 233-256.
  • Murdoch, J. & Abram, S. (2002). Rationalities of planning: development versus environment in planning for housing. Aldershot Ashgate.
  • Abram, Simone (Accepted). Destination Development Performances, or How we Learn to Love Tourism. In Tourism Destination Development. Viken, Arvid & Granaas, Brynhild Routledge. 63-78.
  • Abram, S. (2017). Contemporary Obsessions with Time and the Promise of the Future. In Anthropologies and Futures: Researching emerging and uncertain worlds. Salazar, Juan Francisco, Pink, Sarah, Irving, Andrew & Sjöberg, Johannes London: Bloomsbury Academic. 61-82.
  • Abram, S. (2017). Im/mobile method/ologies. In Methodologies of Mobility: Ethnography and Experiment. Elliot, A., Norum, R. & Salazar, N.B. Oxford: Berghahn Books. 195-200.
  • Abram, S (2017). Learning to Meet (or How to talk to Chairs). In Meeting Ethnography: Meetings as Key Technologies of Contemporary Governance, Development, and Resistance. Sandler, J & Thedvall, R New York: Routledge. 46-68.
  • Abram, S. (2014). ‘Bias Binding’ Re-Calling Creativity in Qualitative Research. In The Craft of Knowledge: Experiences of Living with Data. Smart, C., Hockey, J. & James, A. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan. 21-38.
  • Abram, S. (2014). Rénovation urbaine et participation en Angleterre: enseignements et comparaisons. In Rénovation Urbaine en Europe. Deboulet, A. & Lelévrier, C. Presses Universitaires de Rennes. 85-96.
  • Abram, S. (2012). ‘Planlegging i et Kulturperspektiv’ [Culural perspectives on planning]. In Utfordringer for norsk planlegging [Challenges for Norwegian Planning]. Aarsæther, N., Falleth, E., Nyseth, T. & Kristiansen, R. Høyskoleforlaget.
  • Abram, S. (2010). Anthropology, Tourism and Intervention? In Thinking Through Tourism. Scott, J. & Selwyn, T. Oxford: Berg. ASA Monograph: 231-253.
  • Abram, S. (2008). Public participation and the problem of exclusion. In Transparency in a New Global Order. Garston, C. & Lindh de Montoya, M. Cheltenham: Edward Elgar. 201-222.
  • Abram, S. (2008). Transparency and Participation: Partnership and Hierarchies in British Urban Regeneration. In Transparency in a new global order: unveiling organizational visions. Garsten, C., & Lindh de Montoya, M. Cheltenham, Gloucester: Edward Elgar. 201-222.
  • Abram, S. (2007). Loyalty and Politics: The discourses of liberalisation. In Professional Identities: Policy and Practice in Business and Bureaucracy. Ardener, S. & Moore, F. Oxford: Berghahn. 87-107.
  • Abram, S. (2007). Participatory depoliticisation: the bleeding heart of neo-liberalism. In Cultures et pratiques participatives: perspectives comparatives. Neveu, C. Paris: l'Harmattan. 113-133.
  • Abram, S. (2004). The Smell of Money: minor risks and olfactory sensibilities – the anatomy of a protest. In Facility Siting: Risk, Power and Identity in Land-use Planning. Boholm, Å. & Löftstedt, R. London: Earthscan. 72-88.
  • Abram, S. (2003). Anthropologies in policies, anthropologies in places. In Globalisation: Studies in Anthropology. Hylland Eriksen, T. Pluto Press. 138-157.
  • Abram, S. (2003). Gazing on Rurality. In Country Visions. Cloke, P. Harlow: Pearson. 32-48.
  • Abram, S. (2001). All that fuss over 100 houses: identities and moralities of building on land. In Identity, Ethnicity and Territoriality. Saltman, M. Oxford: Berg. 71-92.
  • Abram, S. (2001). Amongst Professionals: Working with Pressure Groups and Local Authorities. In Inside Organisations: Anthropologists at Work. Gellner, D. & Hirsch, E. Oxford: Berg. 183-203.
  • Abram, S. & Vike, H. (2001). People out of Place? Perspectives on Participation. In Perspectives on Participation. Connelly, S. Abram, S. & Richardson, T. University of Sheffield, Department of Town and Regional Planning. 4-7.
  • Murdoch, J., Abram, S. & Marsden, T. (1999). Technical Expertise and Public Participation in Planning for Housing: ‘Playing the Numbers Game. In Power and Participation: The new politics of British local governance. Stoker, G. London: Macmillan. 198-214.
  • Murdoch, J., Abram, S. & Marsden, T. (1998). Planning by Numbers: migration and statistical governance. In Migration into Rural Areas: Theories and Issues. Boyle, P. & Halfacree, K. Chichester: Wiley. 236-251.
  • Abram, S. (1997). Performing for tourists in France. In Tourists and Tourism: Identifying with People and Places. Abram, S., Waldren, J. & Macleod, D.V.L. Oxford: Berg. 29-50.
  • Marsden, T., Murdoch, J. & Abram, S. (1997). Rural Sustainability in Britain: The Social Realisation of Sustainability. In The Handbook of Environmental Sociology. Redclift, M. & Woodgates, G. Cheltenham: Edward Elgar. 467-478.
  • Abram, S. (1996). European Reactions to the Tourist Gaze: A view from the Deep Green Heart of France. In Coping with Tourists. Boissevain, J. Oxford: Berghahn. 174-203.
  • Abram, S. & Waldren, J. (1998). Anthropological Perspectives on Local Development: Knowledge and Sentiments in Conflict. London: Routledge.
  • Abram, S., Waldren, J. & Macleod, D.V.L. (1997). Tourists and Tourism: Identifying with People and Places. Oxford: Berg.
  • Abram, S. & Weszkalnys, G. (2011). Planning in the Contemporary World. Focaal, 61
  • Abram S. & Vike, H. (2003). Anthropologies of Governance. Norsk Antropologisk Tidsskrift (Norwegian Journal of Anthropology), 14
  • Abram, S. (2017). Contradiction in contemporary political life: meeting bureaucracy in Norwegian municipal government. Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute 23(S1): 27-44.
  • Abram, S., Feldman Bianco, B., Khosravi, S., Salazar, N. & de Genova, N. (2017). The free movement of people around the world would be Utopian IUAES World Congress 2013: Evolving Humanity, Emerging Worlds, 5–10 August 2013. Identities: Global Studies in Culture and Power 24(2): 123-155.
  • Abram, Simone & Norum, Roger (2016). An archaeology of Arctic travel journalism. Studies in Travel Writing 20(3): 272-284.
  • Abram, S. (2016). Culture? And Planning?. Planning Theory and Practice
  • Abram, S., Acciaioli, G., Baviskar, A., Kopnina, H., Nonini, D. & Strang, V. (2016). Special Module: Plenary Debate from the IUAES World Congress 2013: Evolving Humanity, Emerging Worlds, 5–10 August 2013. Anthropological Forum 26(1): 74-95.
  • Abram, S. (2015). IUAES World Congress 2013: Evolving humanity, emerging worlds, 5–10 August 2013. Critique of Anthropology 35(2): 205-219.
  • Abram, S. (2014). Values of property (properties of value): capitalization of kinship in Norway. Journal of Tourism and Cultural Change 12(3): 253-266.
  • Abram, Simone (2013). Modern fossils: response to Vaden and Salminen. Suomen Antropologi 2013(3): 57-61.
  • Ween, G. B. & Abram, S. (2012). The Norwegian Trekking Association: Trekking as constituting the Nation. Journal of Landscape Research 37(2): 155-171.
  • Abram, S. (2011). Kulttuuri ja yhdyskuntasuunnittelu – mitä antropologia voisi tuoda suunnittelun tutkimukseen. Finnish Journal of Urban Studies 49(2): 26-33.
  • Abram, S. & Lien, M. (2011). Performing Nature at World’s Ends. Ethnos: Journal of Anthropology 76(1): 3-18.
  • Abram, S. (2007). Living Through Regeneration - Capturing Multiple Stakeholder Perceptions to Enrich the Qualitative Research Methods Curriculum. CEBE Transactions 4(2): 67-84.
  • Abram, S. & Booth, P. (2005). Culture, Place and Planning: a Case Study of Problem Based Learning. Transactions - Center for Education in the Built Environment 2(3): 42-60.
  • Abram, S. (2005). Introduction: science/technology as politics by other means. Focaal 2005(46): 3.
  • Abram, S. & Cowell,R. (2004). Dilemmas of implementation: `integration' and `participation' in Norwegian and Scottish local government. Environment and Planning C: Government and Policy 22: 701-720.
  • Abram, S. & Cowell,R. (2004). Learning Policy-The Contextual Curtain and Conceptual Barriers. European Planning Studies 12: 209-228.
  • Abram, S. (2004). Personality and professionalism in a Norwegian district council. Planning Theory 3: 21-40.
  • Abram, S. (2001). Planning and public-making in municipal government. Focaal 21-34.
  • Abram, S. (2000). Planning the Public: Some Comments on Empirical Problems for Planning Theory. Journal of Planning Education and Research 19: 351-357.
  • Murdoch, J., Abram, S. & Marsden, T. (1999). Modalities of planning: a reflection on the persuasive powers of the development plan. Town Planning Review 70: 191-212.
  • Murdoch, J. & Abram, S. (1998). Defining the limits of community governance. Journal of rural studies 14(1): 41-50.
  • Abram, S. (2005). Living through Regeneration. 28 minute documentary film produced in collaboration with Claire Allam and funded through LDMU Learning and Teaching Grant scheme.
  • Abram, S. (2002). Much Ado About Norway. 34 minute documentary film (VHS) produced in collaboration with Cinema Oslo.
  • Abram, S. (2007). Bricks coming out of the ground: Reconstructing Norfolk Park.
  • Abram, S. (2006). Living through regeneration. Learning from the experience of residents of Norfolk Park. Yorkshire and Humber Regional Review 16(3): 28-29.
  • Abram, S. & Booth, P. (2004). Problem-based Learning in 'culture, Place and Planning. CEBE Case Study
  • Abram, S. (2001). Casting the net wide: lessons from Norway for community strategies. eg 8-10.
  • Abram, S. (2001). Community Planning in Norway and Scotland: Introduction and Findings.
  • Murdoch, J. & Abram, S. (1998). Building Jerusalem as a Suburb. Parliamentary Brief March : 50-51.
  • Abram, S. (1998). Why do people have faith in planning? Rationalities and realities in the British planning system. Papers in environmental planning research 16
  • Abram, S., Marsden, T. & Murdoch, J. (1996). Constructing Middle England: The politics of participation in forward planning. Papers in environmental planning research
  • Abram, S., Marsden, T. & Murdoch, J. (1996). Delimiting debate the bureaucracy of migration. Papers in environmental planning research 6
  • Abram, S., Marsden, T. & Murdoch, J. (1996). Modalities of Planning: Arenas, Actors and Strategies of persuasion in the development plan review. Papers in environmental planning research 5

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Research Groups

Selected Grants

  • 2016: Electrifying Anthropology (£13983.48 from Wenner-Gren Foundation for Anthropological Research)
  • 2016: Systems Integration of Energy Supply and Demand (£209019.83 from Epsrc)