Research Fellow, Department of Social Anthropology


Sean is a Post-Doctoral Research Fellow at the Centre for Energy Ethics in the Department of Social Anthropology at the University of St Andrews. Since late-2018, Sean’s multidisciplinary research has focused on how financial professionals in Houston (Texas) conceptualize energy and value hydrocarbons.  This ethnographic work explores the calculation of risk, the performance of financial expertise, and the ethical valuation of energy resources and extractive energy technologies in the United States.  A key implication of Sean’s research is that the world of finance is central to the materialization of our collective energy and anthropogenic landscapes. 

Sean’s project is part of the larger Energy Ethics research project led by Dr Mette High and funded by the European Research Council.  His current project follows the arch of his postgraduate research on the intersection of financialization and natural resources, economisation, and economic development. 

Sean was co-organizer of Energy Ethics 2020, the launch of the Centre for Energy Ethics, and The Art of Energy, including the Art of Energy virtual gallery that was awarded a University of St Andrews Knowledge Exchange and Impact Fund Award.

Sean is convenor of the Department of Social Anthropology’s 2021-2022 Departmental Seminar Series, the co-founder and co-organizer of the Energy Café, and the founder of the recently established Energy and Climate Finance Network.



Sean recently taught The Anthropology of Energy module (SA4064 – Winter 2021) in the Department of Social Anthropology with Dr Pauline Destrée, which was awarded a 2021 Golden Dandelion Prize for excellence in education for sustainable development.  This 2021-2022 academic year he is co-teaching the Vertically Integrated Project, Environmental Ethics at Work, led by Dr Louise Reid and Dr Mette High.

Before relocating to St Andrews, Sean was a Lecturer in Economic Geography at the University of Toronto’s Department of Geography (Mississauga campus) and an Assistant Adjunct Professor at Queen’s University’s School of Policy Studies. Sean has also been an Adjunct Professor in Queen’s University’s Department of Geography and Planning and Smith School of Business. He has developed and delivered undergraduate and graduate courses on: Economic Geography, Energy and Society, Business and Industrial Geography, Economics of Social Policy, Applied Ethics, Human Resources Management, and Quantitative and Qualitative Research Methods. 



Sean started his career in business and finance working during the housing frenzy of the early 2000s. After completing his Bachelor of Commerce (BComm, honours) he left the financial sector to begin multidisciplinary graduate training. He earned his Master of Science (MSc) in Food Agriculture and Resource Economics and International Development at the University of Guelph, where he studied food supply chains and conducted several months of fieldwork in Ghana. During this time Sean also worked as a consultant for the World Bank. Sean earned his Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) funded Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) in Economic Geography from Queen’s University (Canada) where he studied the intersection of financial and agricultural commodity markets.  

Find Sean on Academic.eduSt Andrews Pure or, for other media, see the sidebar.

Selected publications


Field, S. (in preparation). Liquid Futures: Inside the World of US Hydrocarbon Finance in an Anthropogenic Era.  


Academic Articles: 

Field S. (in preparation). “White Oil – Responsibility and the Corporeal Limits of Expertise in the US Energy Capital”

Field, S. (under review). “Running the math and speaking economics: The financial lexicon and allegories of the US oil and gas sector” 

Field S. (2022). “Risk and Responsibility: Private Equity Financiers and the US Shale RevolutionEconomic Anthropology 9(1). Online first 17 August 2021. DOI: 10.1002/sea2.12221

Field, S. 2018. “Venezuela: It’s all about the oil”.  Antipode (Interventions); available from:  

Field, S. 2017. “Examining the Influence of Intellectuals on Commodity Speculation” Geoforum 83 (July): 71-79; available from:   

Field, S. 2016. “The financialization of food and the 2008–2011 food price spikes” Environment and Planning A 48 (11): 2272-2290; available from:  

Massey, J, S Field, & Y Chan.  2014.  “Partnering for economic development: How town-gown relations impact local economic development in small and medium cities”  Canadian Journal of Higher Education 44 (2): 152-169.  Available at:  

Field, S, O Masakure & S Henson.  2010.  “Rethinking localization – a low income country perspective: the case of Asian vegetables in Ghana”  Cambridge Journal of Regions, Economy and Society 3: 261-275; available from:  


Other Publications: 

Field, S. (in preparation) “Book Review: Norms and Illegality – Intimate Ethnographies and Politics”.  American Ethnologist

Field, S. (in press) “Book Review: Financialization: Relational Approaches”. Anthropological Notebooks

Field, S, & MM High.  2021.  “Oil, Oil, Who wants some oil?  Part 5: Betting on the Future”.  The Energy Blog; available from:

Field, S.  2021. “Book Review: Poverty as Ideology: Rescuing Social Justice from Global Development Agendas”.  Studies in Social Justice 15(1); available from:  

Field, S, & MM High.  2020.  “Oil, Oil, Who wants some oil?  Part 4: The Brent Crude Complex”.  The Energy Blog; available from:  

Field, S.  2020.  “Book Review: Organizing the 1%: How Corporate Power Works” Studies in Social Justice 14(1); available from:  

Field, S., & MM High.  2020.  “Oil, Oil, Who wants some oil?  Part 3: Anticipating the future and financializing oil”.  The Energy Blog; available from:  

High, MM, & S Field.  2020.  “Oil, Oil, Who wants some oil?  Part 2: Pipelines and Oil Prices”.  The Energy Blog; available from:  

High, MM, & S Field.  2020.  “Oil, Oil, Who wants some oil?  Part 1: Reflections on Oil Infrastructures at a Time of Negative Oil Prices”.  The Energy Blog; available from:  

Field, Sean.  2014.  “Book Review: Blue-Green Province: The Environment and the Political Economy of Ontario”. The Canadian Geographer 58 (1); e13-e14; available from:  


Recent Presentations: 

Field S, and Tripathy A.  (presented June 2021).  “Financing Energy, Climate & The Future”. Energy Café. Organized by S Field and M High; available from:

Field, S (presented April 2021). “White Oil – Responsibility and the Corporeal Limits of Expertise in the US Energy Capital”. Panel: Who Speaks for Energy? Responsibility and authority in the ethnographies of energy in an era of anthropogenic climate change.  ASA2021: RESPONSIBILITY, Association of Social Anthropologists of the UK. Panel organized by M High, P Destrée, and S Field. 

Field, S. (presented January 2021). “Power and precarity in the expert hierarchies of the US hydrocarbon industry”. Online panel organized by D. Souleles & M. Archer, Copenhagen School of Business. 

Field, S. (presented November 2020) “Liquid Futures: financial perspectives on oil and gas from Houston Texas.  Energy Ethics 2020, University of St Andrews. 

Field, S. (presented August 2020). “White Oil – Responsibility and the Corporeal Limits of Expertise in the US Energy Capital”.  Panel: Who Speaks for Energy? Online panel organized by M High, P Destrée, and S Field, Energy Ethics Research Group, University of St Andrews.