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Anthony J Pickles

British Academy Research Fellow, Division of Social Anthropology, University of Cambridge

I am a social anthropologist whose research interests include Papua New Guinea, gambling, money, contingency, exchange, the gift, and pockets.

At the moment my time is shared between preparing publications based on my original research and embarking on a new research frontier. My first research project is on money and value as it is manipulated and redefined in the process of transactions.

I envision a theory of economy that factors in the conscious recognition of value manipulation that is part of Melanesian trade and exchange. I primarily examine this by looking at gambling, an introduced but wildly popular activity that forefronts monetary value and hones people's manipulatory skills in daily life. I have also written on the reimagining of other one-time-exogenous economic materials, practices or terms.

My new research project traces the history of the adoption of gambling across Papua New Guinea and parts of Melanesia from the late 19th Century to the present, examining the myriad adaptations and innovations. I use these as an axis for the comparison of peoples’ economies and the kinds of inventiveness and creativity that are valued, as well as conceptualising a means of making comparisons that do not hark back to an assumed pre-contact stability.

I also take an active interest in politics.


  • –present
    Research Fellow in Anthropology, Trinity College, University of Cambridge


  • 2013 
    University of St Andrews, Social Anthropology