Reader, Department of Social Anthropology


Mette M. High is a social anthropologist at the University of St Andrews. Since 2013, her field research has focused on the United States, specifically the state of Colorado, where fieldwork has taken her out on the rigs in Weld County, into the drilling crew’s field offices, and to the executive headquarters in Denver. As part of her broader interest in energy industries, commodity markets and global finance, calculation and risk, she seeks to understand how people in the oil and gas industry make financial and ethical valuations of natural resources.

Dr High is currently directing a European Research Council funded project: The Ethics of Oil: Finance Moralities and Environmental Politics in the Global Oil Economy (ENERGY ETHICS). Based on multiple ethnographic studies in Europe and the US, this 6-year research project brings an anthropological sensitivity to issues of money, energy and climate change. Its ambition is to provide a novel framework for investigating how oil valuations relate to political reforms and new climate economic initiatives.

Her publications include books, special issues of journals, book chapters and articles.

Dr High appeared in the first episode of the Centre for Energy Ethics podcast ‘All About Energy’ and her work has recently been featured in an interview with the Danish newspaper Weekendavisen (article in Danish) and in an interview with National Geographic France (article in French).

Selected publications

High, M.M. 2022. Utopias of Oil: Private Equity and Entrepreneurial Ambition in the U.S. Oil and Gas Industry. Cultural Anthropology 37(4): 738–763.

High, M.M. 2021. Changing the Conversation on Energy. Energy Humanities, 10 Dec.

High, M. M. & Smith, J. M., 2019 Introduction: the ethical constitution of energy dilemmasIn: Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute. 25S1p. 9-28.

High, M. M., 2019, Projects of devotion: energy exploration and moral ambition in the cosmoeconomy of oil and gas in the Western United States In: Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute. 25S1p. 29-46.

Smith, J. & High, M., 2017, Exploring the anthropology of energy: ethnography, energy and ethics In: Energy Research and Social Science. 30p. 1-6