skip to content

Department of Social Anthropology



Europe; the Mediterranean; France; The anthropology of Free Speech; science, ignorance and doubt; human-animal relations; Politics of language; Identity, alterity and belonging; French republicanism and its critics; Ethnographic method; The history of social theory; Anthropological heuristics, and in particular the theory and practice of anthropological comparison.

Dr Candea is currently the PI on the Risking Speech project, a five-year comparative study of the ethics, epistemics, politics and material infrastructures of freedom of speech in a range of locations in and beyond Europe. Risking Speech is funded by a European Research Council (ERC) grant entitled ‘Situating Free Speech’ under the European Union's Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme.

Dr Candea's doctoral research (PhD Cambridge 2006) focused on identity, alterity and belonging on the island of Corsica. The resulting book (Corsican Fragments, Indiana UP 2010) and a range of associated publications 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; dynamics of identity, racism and republicanism in contemporary France.

This ethnographic research led him 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. It launched an enduring interest in anthropological heuristics, whose current instance is a book on the theory and practice of anthropological comparison, under contract with Cambridge University Press.

Dr Candea’s first post-doctoral work took the question of knowledge and alterity to a different field: that of inter-species relations in scientific research. He studied 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, the focus was on 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.), 2015 Reconsidering Detachment, Manchester University Press,).

Alongside these empirical research projects, Dr Candea has 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). The book was reissued in a revised and expanded edition in 2016.

Aside from Cambridge, where he was a lecturer from 2006-2009, he 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). He is a fellow and director of studies at King’s College, and was the honorary editor of the Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute (2013-2016). In 2016, he was awarded the Pilkington Prize for teaching excellence.




  • Candea, M., 2018. Comparison in Anthropology The Impossible Method, Cambridge University Press 10.1017/9781108667609
  • 2017

  • Candea, M. (ed.), 2017. Schools and Styles of Anthropological Theory 10.4324/9781315388267
  • 2012

  • Candea, M. (ed.), 2012. The Social After Gabriel Tarde, Routledge
  • 2010

  • Candea, M., 2010. Corsican fragments: Difference, knowledge, and fieldwork
  • Journal articles


  • Candea, M., 2020. The Duelling Ethic and the Spirit of Libel Law: Matters and Materials of Honour in France, University of Wollongong Law Text Culture, v. 23
  • 2019

  • Candea, M., 2019. Silencing oneself, silencing others: Rethinking censorship comparatively, Ministere de la Culture Terrain,
  • Candea, M., 2019. On visual coherence and visual excess: Writing, diagrams, and anthropological form, Berghahn Journals Social Analysis: international journal of cultural and social practice, v. 63
  • Candea, M., 2019. Behaviour as a thing Interdisciplinary Science Reviews,
  • 2017

  • Candea, M., 2017. This is (not) like that HAU: Journal of Ethnographic Theory, v. 7
  • 2016

  • Candea, M., 2016. De Deux Modalités de la Comparaison en Anthropologie Sociale Homme (France),
  • 2014

  • Candea, M., 2014. "There is something": Charlie Galibert's Corsica, Project Muse Anthropological Quarterly, v. 87
  • 2013

  • Candea, M., 2013. Habituating Meerkats and Redescribing Animal Behaviour Science Theory, Culture & Society, v. 30
  • Candea, M., 2013. Suspending Belief: Epoché in Animal Behavior Science American Anthropologist, v. 115
  • Candea, M., 2013. THE FIELDSITE AS DEVICE Journal of Cultural Economy, v. 6
  • 2012

  • Candea, M. and Alcayna-Stevens, L., 2012. Internal Others: Ethnographies of Naturalism, Berghahn Books The Cambridge Journal of Anthropology, v. 30
  • Candea, M., 2012. Different Species, One Theory: Reflections on Anthropomorphism and Anthropological Comparison, Berghahn Books The Cambridge Journal of Anthropology, v. 30
  • Candea, M., 2012. Derrida en Corse? Hospitality as scale-free abstraction Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute, v. 18
  • 2011

  • Candea, M., 2011. Endo/exo Common Knowledge, v. 17
  • Candea, M., 2011. "Our division of the Universe": Making a Space for the non-political in the anthropology of politics Current Anthropology, v. 52
  • 2010

  • Carrithers, M., Candea, M., Sykes, K., Holbraad, M. and Venkatesan, S., 2010. Ontology Is Just Another Word for Culture Motion Tabled at the 2008 Meeting of the Group for Debates in Anthropological Theory, University of Manchester CRIT ANTHROPOL, v. 30
  • Candea, M., 2010. "I fell in love with Carlos the meerkat": Engagement and detachment in human-animal relations AM ETHNOL, v. 37
  • Candea, M., 2010. Anonymous introductions: identity and belonging in Corsica J ROY ANTHROPOL INST, v. 16
  • 2008

  • Candea, M., 2008. Fire and identity as matters of concern in Corsica ANTHROPOL THEOR, v. 8
  • 2007

  • Candea, M., 2007. Arbitrary locations: in defence of the bounded field-site J ROY ANTHROPOL INST, v. 13
  • 2006

  • Jeffery, L. and Candea, M., 2006. The politics of victimhood History and Anthropology, v. 17
  • Candea, M., 2006. Resisting victimhood in corsica History and Anthropology, v. 17
  • Candea, M., 2006. ANTHROPOLOGY OF CROSS-CHANNEL DEBATES: A response to Fassin (AT22[1]) and Bazin et al (AT22[2]), Wiley Anthropology Today, v. 22
  • Candea, M., The Two Faces of Character: Moral Tales of Animal Behaviour, Wiley-Blackwell Social Anthropology, v. 26 10.1111/1469-8676.12547
  • Candea, M., “When I see what democracy is…”: Bleak liberalism in a French court, Wiley Social Anthropology,
  • Candea, M., Wright, F., Fedirko, T. and Heywood, P., Freedom of Speech, Cambridge Encyclopedia of Anthropology Cambridge Encyclopedia of Anthropology,
  • Book chapters


  • Candea, M., Laidlaw, J., Bodenhorn, B. and Holbraad, M. (eds.), 2018. Paradoxical pedagogies and humanist double Binds 10.1017/9781108605007.008
  • 2016

  • Candea, M., Charbonnier, P., Salmon, G. and Skafish, P. (eds.), 2016. We Have Never Been Pluralist: On Lateral and Frontal Comparisons in the Ontological Turn, Rowman & Littlefield
  • 2012

  • Candea, M., 2012. Arbitrary locations: In defence of the bounded field–site
  • Teaching and Supervisions


    SAN1: The comparative perspective: Anthropological Theory

    SAN3: Anthropological theory and methods: Schools of Anthropological Theory


    Research supervision: 
    Professor of Social Anthropology
    Director of Undergraduate Education and Chair, Undergraduate Education Committee
    Fellow and Director of Studies, King's College
    Office hours: appointment by email
    Dr Matei  Candea

    Contact Details

    Email address: