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Professor Simone Abram



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Professor in the Department of AnthropologyD118c 
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

Research groups

Esteem Indicators

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

Media Contacts

Available for media contact about:

  • Anthropology: Energy, ethics and energy futures


Authored book

Chapter in book

Edited book

  • Abram, Simone, Winthereik, Brit Ross & Yarrow, Thomas (2019). Electrifying Anthropology: exploring electrical practices and infrastructures. Bloomsbury.
  • Abram, S. & Weszkalnys, G. (2013). Elusive promises: planning in the contemporary world. Dislocations. Oxford: Berghahn.
  • 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.

Edited Journal

  • Abram, S. & Lien, M. (2011). Introduction: Performing Nature at World’s Ends. Ethnos, 76
  • 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

Journal Article

Other (Digital/Visual Media)

  • Abram, S. (Published). Contributor to Savage Minds Blog, The Anthropology Project.
  • 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. Film.
  • Abram, S. (2002). Much Ado About Norway. 34 minute documentary film (VHS) produced in collaboration with Cinema Oslo. VHS.

Other (Print)

  • Abram, S. (2010). Lokalpolitisk praksis i norge (Political practice in Norway). Antropolognytt 2: 4-5.
  • Abram, S. (2008). Reproducing the Norwegian Myth: Egalitarianism and the Normal. CTCC Research Papers 1.
  • 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. (2002). Enhancing Local Democracy – the Scandinavian Link. Environmental Governance February: 11-12.
  • Abram, S. (2001). Community Planning in Norway and Scotland: Introduction and Findings.
  • Connelly, S., Richardson, T. & Abram, S. (2001). Perspectives on Participation.
  • Abram, S. (2001). Casting the net wide: lessons from Norway for community strategies. eg 8-10.
  • 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., Murdoch, J., Marsden, T. & University of Wales (1996). Participation in strategic forward planning in Buckinghamshire: the making of 'middle England'? Papers in environmental planning research 4
  • 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). Constructing Middle England: The politics of participation in forward planning. Papers in environmental planning research
  • Abram, S. (1996). Findings: Middle Class Representation in Strategic Planning.
  • 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
  • Abram, S. (1994). Policy, Morality and the Art of Government: Review of the 2nd Biannual EASA conference. Anthropology in Action 1(3).
  • Abram, S. (1994). Recollections and recreations tourism, heritage and history in the French Auvergne.

Supervision students