Michael D Fischer

Last modified by editors on 2021/12/30 08:21

Michael D. Fischer is an anthropologist who has worked mainly in the Punjab and Swat in Pakistan, and the Cook Islands, but has field experience on all continents other than Antarctica. His major interests are in the representation and structure of indigenous knowledge, cultural informatics, invention, and the impact of mobile communications on social networks and agency.

Fischer is Professor of Anthropological Sciences in the School of Anthropology and Conservation, the University of Kent and is currently Director of the Centre for Social Anthropology and Computing, the University of Kent at Canterbury.

Email address: M.D.Fischer@kent.ac.uk

Surface Mail:

Centre for Social Anthropology and Computing, The University of Kent at Canterbury, CT2 7NR, United Kingdom, Tele: +44 1227 823144/823942 FAX : +44 1227 827289


  • B.A.1974, M.A 1980, Ph.D. 1986, University of Texas, Austin, Texas in Anthropology and Linguistics.

Posts and Positions

  • 2014 - Software Sustainability Institute Fellow
  • 2012- Vice President, Human Relations Area Files, Yale University
  • 2005 - Professor of Anthropological Sciences, School of Anthropology and Conservation, University of Kent.
  • 2002-2004 Reader in Anthropological Sciences, Department of Anthropology, University of Kent.
  • 1993-2001 Senior Lecturer in Social Anthropology and Computing, Department of Anthropology, University of Kent.
  • 1990- Director, Centre for Social Anthropology and Computing, University of Kent.
  • 1985-92 Lecturer in Social Anthropology and Computing, University of Kent.

Selected Publications

  • 1991 Fischer. M. and A. Finkelstein. A case study in social knowledge representation: arranging a marriage in urban Pakistan, in Qualitative Knowledge and Computing, eds. N Fielding and R Lee. Sage. (with A. Finkelstein)
  • 1994 Applications in Computing for Social Anthropologists, ASA Research Methods Series, Routledge.
  • 1994 "Modelling Complexity: Social Knowledge and Social Process". in When History Accelerates: essays on the study of rapid social change ed. C. Hann.
  • 1995 "Computer-assisted Ethnographic Research". in Information Technology in Social Sciences Research, ed. R. Lees, UCL Press.
  • 1997 Fischer, M., O. Kortendick and D. Zeitlyn. The APFT Content Coding System.. CSAC Monographs, Canterbury.
  • 1998 Counting Things and Interpreting Ideas: Anthropological Conventions in the Use of "Hard" Versus "Soft" Models, in Postmodern Applications to Natural Resources Development. ed. M. Fischer, CSAC Monographs, Canterbury.
  • 2000 Fischer, M. and W. Lyon "Model Marriage in Pakistan". Kinship and substance in South Asia. ed. Rao and Boeck.
  • 2002 "Indigenous knowledge and Expert Knowledge in Development". The contribution of indigenous knowledge to economic development, ed. Silatoe and Bicker. Harwood.
  • 2002 "Integrating Anthropological Approaches to the Study of Culture : The "Hard" and the "Soft"`. R. Trappl (ed), Cybernetics and Systems, Vol 1. Vienna.
  • 2002 Classification, Symbolic Representation and Ritual: Information vs meaning in cultural processes R. Trappl (ed), Cybernetics and Systems, Vol 1I. Vienna.
  • 2002 Bharwani, S., M. Fischer and N. Ryan 'Modelling Adaptive Dynamics and Social Knowledge' R. Trappl (ed), Cybernetics and Systems, Vol 1I. Vienna.
  • 2002 Fischer, M., O. Kortendick and D. Zeitlyn. The CSAC Context Coding System. CSAC Monographs, Canterbury.
  • 2002 Zeitlyn, D. and M. Fischer `Ritual, ideation and performance: A Case Study of Multimedia in Anthropological Research - the Mambila Nggwun Ritual' R. Trappl (ed), Cybernetics and Systems, Vol 1. Vienna.
  • 2003 The CSAC Context Coding System. with O Kortendick and D Zeitlyn. CSAC Monographs, Canterbury
  • 2004 'Integrating Anthropological Approaches to the Study of Culture : The "Hard" and the "Soft"'. Cybernetics and Systems.35:2/3 pp147-162
  • 2004 'Culture and Indigenous Knowledge Systems: Emergent order and the internal regulation of shared symbolic systems' Cybernetics and Systems Research 2004
  • 2005 Culture and Indigenous Knowledge Systems: Emergent Order and the Internal Regulation of Shared Symbolic Systems, Cybernetics and Systems: an International Journal. 36(8), pp. 735-752.
  • 2005 Fischer, M, S. Lyon and D. Read 2005. Introduction (to Cultural Systems issue), Cybernetics and Systems: an International Journal. 36(8), pp. 719-734.
  • 2005 Kinship Algebra Expert System (with Dwight Read). A computer program and documentation for formal modelling of kinship terminologies and the simulation of populations that under these models. http://Kaes.anthrosciences.net. CSAC Monographs, Canterbury.
  • 2006 Configuring Anthropology, Social Science Computing Review. 24(1), pp. 3-14.
  • 2006 Configuring Anthropology (special issue editor), Social Science Computing Review. 24(1).
  • 2006 The ideation and instantiation of arranging marriage within an urban community in Pakistan, 1982–2000. Contemporary South Asia 15(3) pp 325-339.
  • 2006 “Cultural Agents: A Community of Minds”. Engineering Societies in the Agents World VI. Oguz Dikenelli, Marie-Pierre Gleizes and Alessandro Ricci (eds). Lecture Notes in Computer Science 3963 pp 259-274. (Springer-Verlag)
  • 2006 Lyon, Stephen M. & Fischer, M.D. 2006. Anthropology and displacement: Culture, communication and computers applied to a real world problem. Anthropology in Action 13(3): 40-53.
  • 2008 Michael Fischer, Steve Lyon and David Zeitlyn. The Internet and the Future of Social Science Research. in Online Research, (eds) N. Fielding and R. Lee. Sage, London.
  • 2008 Cultural dynamics: formal descriptions of cultural processes. Structure and Dynamics. v3:1.
  • 2010  Kemp-Benedict, E. J., S. Bharwani and M. D. Fischer. 2010. Using  Matching Methods to Link Social and Physical Analyses for Sustainability Planning.  Ecology and Society 15  (3): 4.
  • 2011a Applin, Sally A. and Michael Fischer. A Cultural Perspective on Mixed, Dual and Blended Reality. IUI '11: Proceedings of the 14th international conference on Intelligent user interfaces. ACM.
  • 2011b Applin, Sally A. and Michael Fischer. Pervasive Computing in Time and Space: The Culture and Context of 'Place' Integration. 7th International Conference on Intelligent Enviroments. IE'2011. ACM 2011. pp 285-293.
  • 2011 Kronenfeld, D., G Bennardo, M. Fischer and V. De Munck. Handbook of Cognitive Anthropology. Wiley-Blackwells.
  • 2011 Michael D Fischer. and David Kronenfeld. Simulation in Cognitive Anthropology. Handbook of Cognitive Anthropology. Wiley-Blackwells.
  • 2012 Sally A. Applin and Michael Fischer. PolySocial Reality: Prospects for Extending User Capabilities Beyond Mixed, Dual and Blended Reality PolySocial Reality (PoSR) from IUI'12 LAMDa 2nd workshop on location awareness for mixed and dual reality
  • 2013 Michael Fischer, Stephen Lyon, David Henig, Daniel Sousna. Harmonizing Diversity: Tuning Anthropological Research to Complexity. Social Science Computer Review.
  • 2013 Dwight Read, Michael Fischer, Murray Leaf. What are Kinship Terminologies, and why do we care? Social Science Computer Review.
  • 2013 Roy Ellen and Michael Fischer: Introduction: Understanding Cultural Transmission. Berghahn.
  • 2013a Applin, Sally A., Fischer, Michael D. Watching Me, Watching You. (Process surveillance and agency in the workplace). IEEE International Symposium on Technology and Society (ISTAS), 2013. p 268-275. IEEE Conference Publications
  • 2013b Applin, Sally A, Fischer Michael D.  Asynchronous adaptations to complex social interactions. IEEE Technology and Society Magazine 32:4 pp35-44. DOI 10.1109/MTS.2013.2286426
  • 2014 Read, Dwight, Fischer, Michael and Lehman, F. K. (Chit Hlaing). The Cultural Grounding of Kinship: A Paradigm Shift.  L'Homme n. 210, pp. 63-90.
  • 2015 Bharwani, Sukaina,  Coll Besa, Mònica , Taylor, Richard, Fischer, Michael, Devisscher, Tahia and Kenfack, Chrislain. Identifying Salient Drivers of Livelihood Decision-Making in the Forest Communities of Cameroon: Formalising Empirical Evidence for Use in a Social Simulation Models. Journal of Artificial Societies and Social Simulation 18 (1) 3 http://jasss.soc.surrey.ac.uk/18/1/3.html
  • 2015 Applin, S.A. and Fischer, M.D. (2015).  Applied Agency: Resolving Multiplexed Communication in (and between) Automobiles. IEEE Technology and Society Magazine, March 2015. 
  • 2015 Applin, S.A. and Fischer, M.D. (2015.)  Towards a Multi-User Social Augmented Reality Experience. IEEE Consumer Electronics Magazine, April 2015.. 


I have received grants from the ESRC, AHRB, SERC, MRC, HEFCE, JISC, Leverhulme and Nuffield, on topics including ethnography of Pakistan and the Cook Islands, formal analysis, multi-media databases, coding methods, virtual reality, performance and large scale networked databases, historical anthropology and textual markup. Some recent grants include:

  • 2002-6. ESRC - Research Methods Programme: Interactive Ethnographic Research Methods: Reproduction/Transmission of Environmental Knowledge - 158k.
  • 2002-7. EPSRC/ESRC E-Science  (with David Zeitlyn - Resource development for ethno-ecological research and modelling - 200k
  • 2007-8. ESRC/NSF (with Russ Bernard) - Special Event in E-Social Science - Workshop to develop use cases for E-Anthropology. - 12k.
  • 2008-2011. ESRC - CASE Award with Stockholm Environment Institute (Oxford). Comparison of social learning & local decision making in change adaptation to water scarcity in California & the UK using climate envelopes & knowledge elicitation - 90k.
  • 2007-10. Cook Islands Natural Heritage Foundation - E-Science framework for tracking biodiversity in Cook Islands - 7k.
  • 2009 Stockholm Environment Institute (Oxford)  - Elimination by Aspects in Ethnographically based Decision Analysis - 5k
  • 2011-2012 NERC - ESPA Human Adaptation and Ecosystem Services (with Patricia Howard, Raj Puri, Andrew Dorward (SOAS) and Kathy Willis (Oxford)) - 159k
  • 2013     NERC - iTrade Wildlife (with David Roberts) - 20k.
  • 2012-2016  ESRC  Legal Innovation in Papua New Guinea. (with M. Demian) - £147,960

Editorial Boards


  • Organiser, Cultural Systems section European Meetings for Cybernetics and Systems Research, 2002- 
  • Guest Editor, Cybernetics and Systems, 2005
  • Anthropology Editor, Social Science Computer Review, 2004-
  • Guest Editor, Social Science Computer Review, 2006, 2013
  • Executive Editor CSAC Monographs, 1988-

Online Open Publications:

  • Executive Editor, World CulturesI, 2015. International Editor, World 1985-2015.
  • Editor, Ethnographics Gallery, 1993-2010
  • Editor, AnthroGlobe, 2007- (founding publisher 1995, first web-based international anthropology journal.)
  • Editor, Society for Anthropological Sciences. 2002-
  • Editor, Open Journal for Cybernetics and Systems Research
  • Executive Editor CSAC Monographs, U. Kent. 1990-
  • Executive Editor AnthroPunk Press. 2010-
  • Editorial Board, Mathematical Anthropology and Cultural Theory, 2001-
  • Editorial Board, Open Anthropology Cooperative Publications, 2009-2011
  • Editorial Board Structure and Dynamics, 2011-

Selected Online Publications

  • 1986-2010 Ethnographics Gallery ( http://lucy.ukc.ac.uk since 1993)  Executive editor and contributor of articles, books, software and data resources in one of anthropology’s oldest  and largest online venues.
  • 1986- A range of web based publications relating research methods, pedagogical examples, 'new directions' initiatives. Consult Google. 
  • 2002- Sourceforge.net. A range of open source software at various stages of completion, ranging from libraries to small applications. Fairly scrappy GUIs, but the concepts are well developed.

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