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Dr Anthony Pickles

Dr Anthony Pickles

British Academy Fellow, Department of Social Anthropology

Research Interests

Gambling, money, cards, slot machines, pockets, economic anthropology, history of anthropology, Melanesia, leadership, comparison, change.

At the moment my time is shared between preparing publications based on my original research and embarking on a new research frontier. My first research project is on money and value as it is manipulated and redefined in the process of transactions. I envision a theory of economy that factors in the conscious recognition of value manipulation that is part of Melanesian trade and exchange. The primary vehicle I use to examine this is through gambling, an introduced but wildly popular activity that forefronts monetary value and hones peoples manipulatory skills in daily life. I have also written on the reimagining of other one-time-exogenous economic materials, practices or terms.

My new research project traces the history of the adoption of gambling across Papua New Guinea and parts of Melanesia from the late Nineteenth Century to the present, examining the myriad adaptations and innovations. I use these as an axis for the comparison of peoples’ economies and the kinds of inventiveness and creativity that are valued, as well as conceptualising a means of making comparisons that do not hark back to an assumed pre-contact stability.

Key Publications

Pickles, Anthony J., 2014. ‘Introduction: Gambling as Analytic in Melanesia', Oceania (Special Issue) 84:3: 207-221

Pickles, Anthony J., 2014. ‘Bom Bombed Kwin': How Two Card Games Model Kula, Moka, and Goroka', Oceania (Special Issue) 84:3: 272-288

Pickles, Anthony J., 2014. ‘Gambling Futures: Playing the Imminent in Highland Papua New Guinea', in Will Rollason (ed.) Future Selves in the Pacific, Berghahn, 96-113

Pickles, Anthony J., 2013. ‘'One-Man One-Man': How Slot-Machines facilitate Papua New Guineans' Shifting Relations to Each Other', in Rebecca Cassidy, Claire Loussouarn and Andrea Pisac (eds.) Qualitative Research in Gambling: Exploring the Production and Consumption of Risk, Oxford: Routledge, 171–184

Pickles, Anthony J., 2013. ‘Pocket Calculator: A Humdrum ‘Obviator' in Papua New Guinea?', Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute (JRAI) 19:3: 510-526

Pickles, Anthony J., 2009. ‘Part and Whole Numbers: An ‘Enumerative' Reinterpretation of the Cambridge Anthropological Expedition to Torres Straits and Its Subjects', Oceania 79:3: 293-315