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Department of Social Anthropology


From Clifford Geertz to the Greatest Showman

With alumnus Cameron Saunders, executive vice-president (EMEA) at Paramount Pictures

How a degree in social anthropology took me into the world of advertising and marketing, from launching the mobile phone brand Orange, to creating the cultural phenomenon that was ‘The Greatest Showman’ with 20th Century Fox. I’ll touch on how some of the core themes of social anthropology – how people interact with brands, symbols and storytelling, and the underlying principles of how human organisations work – has proved invaluable throughout my career.

Geertz (1973) says “man is an animal suspended in webs of significance he himself has spun” – and in today’s world we’re busier spinning and navigating those webs than ever. What we learn from the richness of human beings, be it the Nuer, the tribes of Papua New Guinea, or what I learned from my dissertation on rave culture in early 90s northern England, is every bit as relevant to business success as dry business theory – and far more interesting and rewarding!

Tuesday, 12 March, 2019 - 17:00 to 18:00
Event location: 
Edmund Leach Room, Department of Social Anthropology Free School Lane, Cambridge