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Dr Amanda Rees



  • MA, PhD (Cantab)

After graduating with a BA in Social and Political Sciences, Amanda turned to the civil service, working for the Welsh Office while John Redwood was in charge. This was ... interesting. Even more interesting, however, was attending Harvard University on a Henry Fellowship - because it was there that she realised that a) the history of science was an actual academic discipline, and b) that it was what she wanted to spend the rest of her life studying.

Supported by a British Academy studentship, Amanda returned to Cambridge to take her PhD in the History and Philosophy of Science, and shortly thereafter, a position at York. She has since published widely on the history of the field sciences, on the history and sociology of the relationship between humans and other animals, and on the history of prehistory. 

Most recently, she has turned her attention to the history of the future. Mildly obsessed by science fiction from an early age, she still can't quite believe she is lucky enough to get paid to read stories and write about them. "



Amanda is especially interested in supervising doctoral students in any of the following research areas:

The sociology of the human/animal relation
  • why has the pet population expanded so immensely over the course of the 20th century? What consequences will the tremendous growth in the numbers of livestock animals have for the health of the human population? Why can we see natural history documentaries on our televisions almost every night of the week?
Doing field science
  • how is it possible for ‘scientific knowledge’ to emerge from field sites? These places are messy, unique, they have no boundaries, and no control can be exerted over them – and yet, somehow, the operators of these sites manage to elicit from them information that can be transformed into universal truth. Who runs these sites? What are their characteristics? How does a field site in the Amazon differ from one in the Arctic?
The public presentation of scientific knowledge
  • how does ‘scientific’ information move from its creators to the general publics? What impact does popular science have on ‘real’ science, and how can we differentiate between the two?
The history of ‘natural history’
  • or in other words, the study of whole animals, their behaviour and ecology (in contrast to the ‘gene’s-eye-view’ that dominated the 20 th century). What contribution has the study of animal behaviour made to human society and to sociology itself as a discipline?
Representations of science in fiction
  • how have authors used scientific knowledge in their narratives? How has science fiction in particular contributed to the development of science itself?


Selected publications

  • Rees, A. (2009). The Infanticide Controversy: primatology and the art of field science Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
  • Rees, A. (2009). 'The undead Darwin: iconic narrative, scientific controversy and the history of science', History of Science 47:445-457.
  • Rees, A. ‘Reflections on the field – primatology, popular science and the politics of personhood’, Social Studies of Science, (2007) 37: 881-907.
  • Rees, A. (2007). ‘If they’re so smart, why can’t they talk? Science and the study of primate minds in the home, the laboratory and the field’, Bulletin d'histoire et d'épistémologie des sciences de la vie 14 163-184.
  • Jackson, S., & Rees, A. (2007). ‘The appalling appeal of nature: the popular influence of evolutionary biology as a problem for sociology’, Sociology 41 917-930.
  • Rees, A. (2006). 'Ecology, biology and social life: explaining the origins of primate sociality', History of Science, 44 409-434.
  • Rees, A. (2006). 'A place that answers questions: primatological field sites and the making of authentic observations', Studies in the History and Philosophy of Science C, 37 311-333.
  • Rees, A., & Radick, G. (2006). 'Fielding the question - primatological research in historical perspective: Introduction', Studies in the History and Philosophy of Science C, 37 269-272.
  • Rees, A. (2001). ‘Practising infanticide, observing narrative: controversial texts in a field science’, Social Studies of Science, 31 507-31.
  • Rees, A. (2001). ‘Anthropomorphism, anthropocentrism and anecdote: primatologists on primatology’, Science, Technology and Human Values, 26 227-247.
  • Rees, A. (2000). ‘Higamous, hogamous, woman monogamous’, Feminist Theory, 1: 365-370.

Contact details

Dr Amanda Rees
Department of Sociology LMB/212
University of York
YO10 5GD

Tel: +44 (0)1904 32 3054