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Luke Freeman

Luke Freeman

Tel:  +44 (0)20 7679 5579 

Fax: +44 (0)20 7679 8632


Room: 239

General Interests

  • Education, teaching and knowledge
  • Communication, speech and rhetoric
  • Power and charisma
  • Human-animal relations

Current Research

Dr Freeman’s current book project The Pen and the Spade: dilemmas of education in Highland Madagascar examines the role of schooling in an isolated rice-growing valley with an extraordinarily high level of engagement and success in formal education. The book examines the political economy of knowledge within a local cultural framework which sees foreign influence as both dangerous and necessary for productive life. Dilemma, ambivalence and ambiguity are therefore central themes of the book.

Dr Freeman recently drove a herd of cattle on foot across Madagascar. Focusing on animal symbolism, exchange and human-animal relationships, a new research project will examine how the young drovers are themselves objects of exchange in the cattle trade.

Media and communication

Dr Freeman’s academic interest in communication, rhetoric and how people are represented means he is a regular commentator on anthropological topics in written and broadcast media.

Selected media work includes:

The Twa: Rwanda's forgotten victims, a report on the Batwa Pygmies of the Great Lakes region of Africa for BBC World Service Radio

Cattle roads and motorcades, a documentary on Malagasy cattle drovers for BBC Radio 4

Anthropology unites humankind rather than dividing it, a defence of anthropology in The Guardian

Other topics addressed include: dreams, droving, famine, family trees, heraldry, language, political leadership, social class and television.


Dr Freeman currently teaches the core course of the MSc in Anthropology and first year undergraduate module.

With Dr Jerome Lewis he has spent several years developing digital tools for teaching undergraduate anthropology. The project won a commendation from the Higher Education Academy.

He is a member of the Royal Anthropological Institute’s Education Committee.

He has previously taught for several years at the London School of Economics and at the University of California, Santa Barbara.

Recent publications

2007  ‘Why are some people powerful?’ in Questions of Anthropology, Astuti, Parry & Stafford (eds), Oxford: Berg

2005  ‘Digital Anthropological Resources for Teaching’ (with J. Lewis) in Teaching Matters 17:1-2

2004   ‘Voleurs de foies, voleurs de coeurs’ (‘Heart thieves and liver thieves’) Terrain 43:85-106

2004   ‘Cowboys of Madagascar’ Geographical 76 (11): 39-43

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