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Dr Adam Fish

Formerly at Lancaster University

Adam Fish

Research overview

Adam Fish is a cultural anthropologist, video producer, and reader in the Sociology Department at Lancaster University who investigates power in cultures of digital production.

He is an interdisciplinary scholar who works across social science, computer engineering, and visual arts. 

He employs ethnographic, participatory, and creative methods to explore how power is harnessed and challenged in relationship to labour and activism with digital technologies. 

Using theories from political economy, new materialism, and science and technology studies, he examines digital industries and digital activists working networked technologies: television, video, the internet, and newer platforms such as drones and the internet of things. 

He is currently writing a book, Drone Justice, based on four years of collaboration with over 70 civic drone pilots, engineers, entrepreneurs, inventors, scientists, and anti-drone activists in extreme locations around the world: e.g. volcanoes and coral reefs in Indonesia, wild elephant herds in Sri Lanka, and orca pods in the Puget Sound. The book investigates how drones transform the ecologies and inhabitants of the Earth.

His co-authored book Hacker States (MIT Press, 2019, with Luca Follis) is about how state hacking impacts democracy.

His book Technoliberalism (Palgrave Macmillan, 2017) describes his ethnographic research on the politics of internet and television convergence in Hollywood and Silicon Valley. 

His co-authored book After the Internet (Polity, 2017, with Ramesh Srinivasan) reimagines the internet from the perspective of grassroots activists, citizens, and hackers on the margins of political and economic power. 

From 2019-2018 he is a research fellow at the Weizenbaum Institute for the Networked Society at the Technischen Universität Berlin, Germany investigating technological ethics, the internet of things, and drones.

In July 2018, he was a research fellow at Centre for Media, Communication, and Information Research (ZeMKI) at the University of Bremen, Germany.

From 2018-2017 he was a Leverhulme Research Fellow conducting research titled "Opening the Dronecode: The Privatisation of Urban Airspace," which had him working in the United Kingdom, the United States, Sri Lanka, and numerous locations in Indonesia on the political dimensions of atmospheric technologies such as drones.

From 2017-2015 he conducted geographical research into data centers and undersea cable landing infrastructure in the North Atlantic. This research resulted in a 2017 experimental drone documentary, Points of Presence, which has been screened at numerous conferences and film festivals on several continents. See the video here. This research was funded by the European Cooperation in Science and Technology, COST Action IS1202, and other sources.

From 2015-2013 he was a co-investigator on the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council grant, "3DaROC: 3rd Party Dematerialisation and Rematerialisation of Capital," which analysed peer-to-peer and other forms of networked money lending.

From 2012-2009 he was a researcher at the University of California, Los Angeles for the National Science Foundation funded project, “Public Engagement in Networked Virtual Organizations and its effects on Discovery and Innovation", which analysed and compared forms of amateur and citizen digital participatory culture.

From 2009-2005 he was a documentary producer producing 15 documentaries for US, UK, Irish, and Italian television on a range of issues including Iraqi refugees, divided cities such as Jerusalem, and religious conflicts in the Himalayan region of India. He co-produced the award-winning documentary The Refugees of Shangi-la (2014), about the relocation of refugees from Bhutan to the United States https://www.therefugeesofshangrila.com/. 

From 2005-1996 he was an archaeologist working for the US federal government and Native American tribes to preserve the cultural heritage of Native Americans. He led archaeology excavations throughout the world include in the Mayan region of the Yucatan of Mexico for the University of California, Riverside; in the Anasazi region of the Southwest; and the Columbia and Snake River areas of the Pacific Northwest.

He has given invited talks and keynotes in Germany (X4), Sweden (X4), the United Kingdom (X3), Finland, Malta, Italy, Australia, New Zealand, Indonesia, Japan, and the United States. He has been a visiting researcher at the University of Iceland (2015) and a visiting lecturer at Instytut Filozofii i Socjologii, Polish Academy of Sciences, Warsaw, Poland (2014-2015).

In his classes learning-through-doing is emphasized; creative praxis is mixed with critical engagement. In 2016, Lancaster University Vice Chancellor Professor Mark Smith awarded him with the university-wide Pilkington Teaching Award for his “innovative, energetic, and enthusiastic teaching and transformative effect it has had on Sociology’s undergraduate provision.”

He is from the Pacific Northwest and not on social media.

PhD supervision

I am happy to collaborate with students with any of the following research interests: cultural anthropology, digital culture, internet, television, journalism, social media, convergence, media industries, media activism, indigenous media, media policy, social justice movements, digital money, democracy, start-up culture, culture industries, critical theory, neoliberalism, ethnographic methods, experimental field methods, the public sphere, and video and television production.

Research overview

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