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Dr Matei Candea

Dr Matei Candea


Research Ethics Officer for the Division Social Anthropology

Senior Treasurer of CUSAS

Fellow and Director of Studies, King's College

Research Interests

Europe; the Mediterranean; France; Anthropology of science, knowledge and ignorance; Anthropology of human-animal relations; Politics of language; Alterity and belonging; Ethnographic method; The history of social theory.

My doctoral research focused on identity, alterity and belonging on the island of Corsica. In the resulting book (Corsican Fragments, Indiana UP 2010) and a range of associated publications, I explored a number of interrelated themes: the historical politics of knowledge and mystery surrounding the island of Corsica and its emergence as a potent ‘internal other’ for France; the contemporary intersection between materiality, languages and senses of place on the island; the ways in which intimations of alterity and relatedness arise from everyday micro-interactions in village space; the politics and poetics of hospitality. This ethnographic research led me to reconsider a number of classic methodological and theoretical questions: in particular, the practice of bounding and extending ethnographic field-sites; the effect of current anthropological understandings of the category of ‘the political’; the question of what it might mean to ‘take seriously’ the people one is working with.

My more recent work has taken the question of knowledge and alterity to a different field: that of inter-species relations in scientific research. I have been studying the conceptual and material relations between humans and other animals in behavioural biology, with a particular focus on researchers who study meerkats. As in the Corsican case, my interest has been in the ways in which understandings of similarity and difference emerge from situated interactions, the intersections of materiality, sociality and language, and the ways in which knowing and not-knowing constitute and emerge from social, ethical and political relations. A key theme running through this research has been the role of detachment as a simultaneously ethical and epistemic goal (see Trundle, Candea, Cook and Yarrow (eds.), Reconsidering detachment, Manchester University Press, Forthcoming).

Alongside these empirical research projects, I have also been involved in the rediscovery and re-evaluation of the works of the forgotten 19th century French social theorist Gabriel Tarde, whose work provided a challenge to some key elements of what later became the Durkheimian canon, and arguably prefigured some recent developments in philosophy and the social sciences (see Candea (ed.)The social after Gabriel Tarde, Routledge 2010).

Aside from Cambridge, where I was a lecturer from 2006-2009, I have also taught at the University of Durham (2009-2013) and held the position of Velux Visiting Professor at the University of Copenhagen (in Summer-Autumn 2014).

I am a fellow and director of studies at King’s College, and the honorary editor of the Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute (2013-2017).


SAN1: The Comparative Perspective: Anthropological Theory

SAN3: Anthropological Theory and Methods: Schools of Anthropological Theory


Key Publications


2010: Corsican Fragments: Difference, knowledge and fieldwork. Bloomington: Indiana University Press.

2010: (Ed.) The Social After Gabriel Tarde: Debates and Assessments, London: Routledge.

Edited Journal Issues

2012: (with Alcayna-Stevens, L.) Internal others: Ethnographies of naturalism. Special issue Cambridge Anthropology 30(2)

2012: (with Da Col, G.) Returning to Hospitality: Strangers, Guests and Ambiguous encounters. Special issue of the Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute 18(S1)

2006: (with Jeffery, L.) The politics of victimhood. Special issue of History and Anthropology. 17(4)

Peer-reviewed Articles

2014: “’There is something': Charlie Galibert’s Corsica”. Anthropological Quarterly 87(2): 525-540

2013: Suspending Belief: Epoché in Animal Behaviour Science. American Anthropologist 115 (3):423-436.

2013: Habituating Meerkats and Redescribing Animal Behaviour Science. Theory, Culture and Society 30 (7-8):105-128.

2013: The fieldsite as device. Journal of cultural economy 6 (3):241-258.

2012: (with Alcayna-Stevens, L.) ‘Internal Others: Ethnographies of naturalism’. Cambridge Anthropology 30(2), 36-47

2012: ‘Different Species, One Theory: reflections on anthropomorphism and anthropological comparison’ Cambridge Anthropology 30(2), 118-135

2012: ‘Derrida en Corse? Hospitality as scale-free abstraction’. Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute 18(S1), S34-S48

2012: (with Da Col, G.) ‘Introduction: The return to Hospitality’. Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute 18(S1), S1-S19

2012: (with Venkatesan, S., Bruun Jensen, C., Pedersen, M. A., Leach, J., Evans, G.) ‘The task of anthropology is to invent relations: 2010 meeting of the Group for Debates in Anthropological Theory’ Critique of Anthropology 31(2), 43-86

2011: ‘Our division of the Universe: making a space for the non-political in the anthropology of politics’ Current Anthropology 52(3), 309-334

2010: ‘”I fell in love with Carlos the Meerkat”: engagement and detachment in human-animal relations’. American Ethnologist, 37(2), 241-258.

2010: ‘Anonymous Introductions: Identity and Belonging in Corsica’. Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute, 16(1),

2010: (with Carrithers, M., Sykes, K., Holbraad, M., Venkatesan, S.) ‘Ontology Is Just Another Word for Culture: Motion Tabled at the 2008 Meeting of the Group for Debates in Anthropological Theory, University of Manchester’, Critique of Anthropology, 30 (2), 152-200.

2008: ‘Fire and identity as matters of concern’. Anthropological Theory. 8(2).

2007: ‘Arbitrary locations: In defence of the bounded field-site’. Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute. 13, 167-184

2006: ‘Resisting victimhood in Corsica’. History and Anthropology. 17:4, 369-384

2006: (with Jeffery, L.) ‘Introduction: The politics of victimhood’. History and Anthropology. 17:4, 369-384

Book Chapters

2013: ‘Objects made out of action’ in Casella E. et al. Objects and Materials Companion. London: Routledge

2010: ‘Revisiting Tarde’s House’. In The Social After Gabriel Tarde: Debates and Assessments, (Ed, Candea, M.). London: Routledge.

2009: ‘Arbitrary locations: In defence of the bounded field-site (reprinted with a new afterword) IN Falzon, M.-A. (ed.) Multi-Sited Ethnography: Theory, Praxis and Locality in Contemporary Social Research London: Ashgate

2009: ‘Multi-Sited Ethnography’. In Barnard, A. and J. Spencer Encyclopedia of Social and Cultural Anthropology London: Routledge

Comments, Reviews

2012: ‘Towards an anthropology of relations themselves. A review of Stasch, R. 2009. Society of others : kinship and mourning in a West Papuan place. Berkeley: University of California Press.’ In Cultural Anthropology 27:4

2012: “Review: Latour, B. and V. A. Lépinay (2009) The science of passionate interests : an introduction to Gabriel Tarde’s economic anthropology.” In the Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute

2011: Comment on Carrithers, M. ‘Can a Species Be a Person?: a Trope and its Entanglements in the Anthropocene Era’ Current Anthropology, 52 (5), 661-685

2011: ‘Fragments d’identité’. Revue Fora!, 8, 49-51.

2011: ‘Endo/Exo (Symposium: Comparative relativism)’. Common Knowledge, 17(1), 146-150.

2011: ‘”We both wait together”: Poaching Agustin Fuentes’. Kroeber Anthropological Society, 100(1), 148-151.

2011: Two hopes built on swarms. (A review of Seeley, T.D. 2010. Honeybee democracy. Princeton: Princeton University Press. and Parikka, J. 2010. Insect media : an archaeology of animals and technology. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.). Biosocieties 6,365-369

2008: (with T. Yarrow) ‘Lessons for life: Student reflections on the teaching of Sue Benson’. Cambridge Anthropology. 27(2). 77-89

2008: ‘Thinking Through Tourism. ASA Conference, London Metropolitan University, 10-13 April 2007’ Anthropology Today 24(1)

2006: ‘Anthropology of cross-channel debates’. Anthropology Today. 22:4, 24

2006: ‘Bringing the past into the present: AAA 2005’ In Anthropology Today Vol. 22, n.2

2002: “Review: History in Person (Holland, D. and J. Lave, eds.)” In Cambridge Anthropology, vol. 23, n. 1:76-78