UCL Anthropology


Get to Know Us - Allen Abramson

3 April 2020

Rapid-fire questions with Allen Abramson, Associate Professor in Social Anthropology, UCL Anthropology

Allen Abramson - UCL Anthropology

What did you want to be when you were growing up?
First a scientist, then a political activist, then an Anthropologist, then a mountaineer, then a kayaker, then….. I never grew up.

Why anthropology?
Looked like a social science that really was a science, and it looked really edgy. I like being out there, somewhere on the edge.

What is your greatest fear?
Fear itself; or, at least, uncontrollable fear.

What is your favourite cheap meal in London?
Stuff I cook for myself, assuming I don’t open a bottle of wine (which is rare admittedly). Chutney’s buffet on Drummond Street if it’s still considered cheap.

What keeps you awake at night?
My cats demanding food at silly times. Not much else.

What would your super power be?

What is your guiltiest pleasure?
My guiltiest pleasures are the ones I’m not going to reveal here. Opening wines at more than £20 per bottle is one I can confess to.

What do you consider your greatest achievement?
None of my achievements have been great. However, whenever I manage to fix something in the house, I think this is a great achievement!

What makes you unhappy?
Currently, the knowledge that thousands of people are dying and losing their jobs, that the figure will rise massively around the world, and that we don’t really know what lies around the corner. But my optimism tempers this unhappiness.

Which words or phrases do you most overuse?
Same as everyone else i.e. ‘Actually’, ‘so’, ‘like’.

How do you relax?
By doing things like climbing rock and kayaking fast rivers, so I can’t relax properly at this time. Having said that, music and fiction are also my go-to sources of relaxation right now and will be forever.

What is top of your bucket list?
To re-learn how to roll a kayak – in fast water.

What or who is the greatest love of your life?
It’d be a toss-up between my family and Man Utd. Actually, it’s no contest.

What is the most important lesson life has taught you?
Assume the best, prepare for the worst.

Which living person do you most admire and why?
Donald Trump (joke!) Actually, my son because he’s my son and also because he’s doing his on-line homework every day without moaning. Well, without moaning much anyway.

What is your most treasured possession?
Irreplaceable photographs.

Which book/film/album changed your life?
Thomas Kuhn’s Structure of Scientific Revolutions (factual book). Willard Price’s Underwater Adventure (kid’s fiction). Beethoven’s Fur Elise which used to be played at primary school as we trooped in and out  of assembly and which I can’t get out of my head. Flash Gordon films at the cinema in the late 1950’s.

Who would you invite to your dream dinner party?
Everyone I love and ever have.