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Professor Simone Abram


Professor in the Department of Anthropology
Executive Director in the Durham Energy Institute



How will we live in times to come? What can be done now to make the future liveable? My work has always been related to questions of change and time, from my early doctoral research (1994) on how people imagine a future (and perform it for tourists) under conditions of economic decline, to questions about how people engage with land-use planning and the workings and future-imaginaries of local government, to my more recent work on energy issues. All of my ethnographic work has been based in Western Europe – UK, France, Scandinavia, although I work collaboratively with colleagues across the world.

Alongside my recent work on energy, I have been conducting ethnographic research with Prof Marianne Lien of Oslo University on kinship and property ( .

Current research projects include:

- ‘INCLUDE’, a research centre for socially-inclusive energy transitions, which is based at the university of Oslo;

- ‘GEMS’, Geothermal energy from mines and solar-geothermal heat, where we will work with post-coal communities on the implications and significance of re-using abandoned mines;

- ‘ICHP’, Zero-Carbon Emission Integrated Cooling, Heating and Power networks, where we will explore the socio-environmental conditions for siting hydrogen-hubs in urban areas;

- ‘Marlin Star’, Community Access to Stored and Transferrable Energy from Floating Renewables, where we have been working with communities in Gujarat and in Bangladesh to include them in infrastructure-design;

- ‘CESI’, the national centre for Energy Systems Integration, which ends in 2021, where my role was to bring an anthropological and STS sensitivity to the work of energy system modelling and focus particular attention on the ethical repercussions of system modelling work.

Much of my current work is interdisciplinary, working with engineers, mathematicians, philosophers, sociologists and geographers. I am on the management board of the Durham Arctic Research Centre for Training and Interdisciplinary collaboration (

I bring interdisciplinary approaches into teaching, too, through the MSc Sustainability, Energy and Development, which I lead with Dr Ben Campbell.

I helped to found the Energy Anthropology Network (, and am involved in the Energy Futures Network of the European Association of Social anthropologists. I am a member of the Fair Transitions Consortium (

I am currently chair of the Association of Social Anthropologists of the UK.

I am happy to hear from prospective post-doctoral researchers or phd researchers who wish to work on energy-related topics from an anthropological or interdisciplinary perspectives. Please also contact me if you wish to work with me on issues related to local development or tourism development. My regional ethnographic experience covers Scandinavia (primarily Norway), France and England.

Research interests

  • Energy futures, and infrastructures
  • Professional and expert practices
  • Inhabitation and Property
  • Government and bureaucracy

Esteem Indicators

  • 2020: Chair of the Association of Social Anthropologists UK:
  • 2017: Visiting Professor University of Bergen:
  • 2017: Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts:
  • 2015: Founding editor of ASAonline, journal of the ASA: Founding editor of ASAonline, journal of the ASA
  • 2013: Visiting Professor at University of Paris 8 (Saint Denis) and LAVUE (Laboratoire Architecture Ville Urbanisme Environnement):
  • 2013: Organising committee of IUAES: Secretary to organising committee of the World Congress of the International Union of Anthropological and Ethnological Societies, Manchester:
  • 2010: Honorary Secretary of ASA: Secretary to Association of Social Anthropologists 2005-2010:


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Supervision students