Scottish Alliance for Geoscience, Environment and Society

Prof. Timothy Ingold

Department / group: Department of Anthropology, School of Social Science
Google Scholar URL: Not available

Research interests:

Geographical: Finland, Lapland, northern Europe, northern circumpolar (including N America, Siberia).

Interests relating to past fieldwork: Work, environment and identity among Saami and Finnish people in Lapland; reindeer herding and husbandry in northern Finland; domestic organisation and rural economy among northern Finnish farmers; migration and rural depopulation; long-term effects of displacement and resettlement; social and environmental aspects of technical change.

Theoretical interests: Ecological approaches in anthropology and psychology; comparative anthropology of hunter-gatherer and pastoral societies; human-animal relations; theories of evolution in anthropology, biology and history; relations between biological, psychological and anthropological approaches to culture and social life; environmental perception; language, technology and skilled practice; anthropology, archaeology, art and architecture; the anthropology of lines and line-making.

Career history:

Attended Churchill College, Cambridge, initially studying natural sciences but shifting to anthropology (BA in Social Anthropology 1970, PhD 1976). His doctoral work was conducted with the Skolt Saami of northeastern Finland, studying their ecological adaptations, social organisation and ethnic politics. Ingold taught at the University of Helsinki (1973–74) and then the University of Manchester, becoming Professor in 1990 and Max Gluckman Professor in 1995. In 1999 he moved to the University of Aberdeen.

Active research projects:

Learning is understanding in practice: exploring the relations between perception, creativity and skill (2002-2005). See

This project, funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Board, was undertaken in conjunction with the School of Fine Art at the University of Dundee. The project combines approaches from fine art and anthropology to examine the relation between perception, creativity, innovation and skill, through an empirical study of the knowledge practices of fine art.

Culture from the ground: walking, movement and placemaking (2004-2006). See

This project, funded by the Economic and Social Research Council, builds on a previous study that focused specifically on recreational rambling and hillwalking in Scotland. The current research is designed to reveal the sociality of walking over a broader canvas.

Lines from the past: towards an anthropological archaeology of inscriptive practices

This project is to convert a series of six public lectures delivered in Edinburgh in May 2003 into a short book, Lines from the past, scheduled for completion early in 2006. These were the Rhind Lectures, sponsored by the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland. In them, I sketched an initial agenda for the comparative anthropology of the line, focusing on the themes of: language, music and notation; traces, threads and surfaces; the gestural trace and the point-to-point connector; writing and drawing, and the significance of the straight line.

Explorations in the comparative anthropology of the line (2005-2008)

This project, funded by a Professorial Fellowship from the Economic and Social Research Council, pursues the implications of treating the human being not as a self-contained entity but as growing along a way of life. Every such way is a line of some kind. Through a comparative and historical anthropology of the line, the research will forge a new approach to understanding the relation, in human life and experience, between movement, knowledge and description.

Bringing things back to life: creative entanglements in a world of materials (2011-2013)

Conventionally, creating things has been understood as imposing form onto matter. Funded by a Major Research Fellowship from the Leverhulme Trust, in this project I aim to challenge this ‘hylomorphic’ model of creation and to replace it with an ontology that assigns primacy to forces and materials.

Knowing From the Inside: Antropology, Art, Architecture and Design (2013-18)

This project, funded by an Advanced Grant from the European Research Council, promises to reconfigure the relation between the practice of academic inquiry in the human sciences and the knowledge to which it gives rise. Conventional research protocols expect the scholar to treat the world as reserve from which to draw empirical material for subsequent interpretation in light of appropriate theory. Against this, we will establish and trial an alternative procedure whereby theory is not applied after the fact, to a corpus of material already gathered, but rather grows from our direct, practical and observational engagements with the stuff of the dwelt-in world.

Recent publications:

Anusas, M. & Ingold, T. (2015). ‘The charge against electricity’. Cultural Anthropology, vol 30, no. 4, pp. 540-554.

Ingold, T. (in press). ‘A Naturalist Abroad in the Museum of Ontology: Phillipe Descola’s Beyond Nature and Culture’. Anthropological Forum.

Ingold, T. (2014). ‘That’s enough about ethnography’. Hau: Journal of Ethnographic Theory, vol 4, no. 1, pp. 383-395.

Ingold, T. (2014). ‘The creativity of undergoing’. Pragmatics & Cognition, vol 22, no. 1, pp. 124-139.

Ingold, T. (2013). ‘Dreaming of dragons: On the imagination of real life’. Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute, vol 19, no. 4, pp. 734-752.

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