Born in Port Talbot, South Wales (an ex-steel town on the coast) and educated at Cambridge University, Amanda was confronted by social inequality and power differentials at a young age, and ascribes her interest in sociology to these early experiences. This was exacerbated by the short time she spent as a civil servant towards the end of the Conservative era. As far as her academic career goes, a period at Harvard was sandwiched in between an undergraduate and graduate degree at Cambridge before arriving in York in 1998.
Clearly, she has been deeply interested in the history of primatology, but insists that she can put this aside anytime she likes. Unfortunately, she never met Jane Goodall. Or an ape, for that matter.
She has no particular hobbies, only vices – in particular, that of reading science fiction rather than getting on with her life.
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?