Portrait of Alan Bicker

Alan Bicker

Honorary Senior Research Fellow

About

Trained in agriculture and horticulture at the Kent Farm Institute, Alan Bicker's earlier career in farm management and agricultural extension took him for long spells to Zambia, Europe and Pakistan, and thence back to England, where he later became the CEO of a large fruit ‘Producer Organisation’ (or EU co-operative). Over those years Alan became increasingly aware of the need to ‘understand other cultures’ and so decided to take a degree in social anthropology and sociology at the University of Kent. Concomitant research grants took Alan to France and Poland. 

While back at Kent, Alan taught social anthropology topics across the whole subject range. He is passionate about teaching and learning, and, while working in Pakistan, established the interdisciplinary University College of Islamabad (UCI) as part of the University of London’s External Programme. Alan is proud to say that, 25 years on, it continues to produce graduates to an international standard. However, he is also acutely aware of the stresses that studying and teaching incur and, as a result, initiated the mentoring scheme for students, alumni and staff in the School of Anthropology and Conservation.  

Research interests

Alan's underlying theoretical and research interests have always lain in the dynamics of critical and adaptive decision-making. Alan first explored these in ERSC-funded fieldwork in northern France, where he focused on the rationales and mechanisms deployed by Polish migrants to survive before and during WWII. Subsequently, Alan's background in temperate and tropical agriculture has enabled him to focus upon the identification, analysis and dissemination of endangered traditional and sustainable adaptive farming techniques and systems, before these are lost to future generations. 

The focal points for this research are Texas in the USA, southern England and southern Poland. Uniquely, the results of this work will be disseminated through dedicated Internet radio, podcasts and FM radio. The aim is to promote a greater public and academic appreciation of the issues surrounding sustainable food production and security, and hopefully influence national and EU policy, practice and decision-making.  

Supervision

Current PhD students

  • Joe Spence (from September 2016) Socio-political dynamics of Britain’s oldest maritime industry (joint supervision with Professor Michael Fischer and Dr Rob Fish).
  • Maria Cifre Sabater Social conflict and environmental management: forest fires, social conflict and environmental management in the Mediterranean Protected Area of Serra De Tramuntana, Mallorca (joint supervision with Dr Miguel Alexiades and Dr Joseph Tzanopoulos).

Alumni

  • Michael Pearson The discordant accord: Romania and the European Union (joint supervision with Professor Dimitrios Theodossopoulos).
  • Dinah Khan Mixed-race marriage in Pakistan: politics of identity (joint supervision with Professor Michael Fischer).

Professional

Alan is the director of the following organisations:

  • The Lyn Bicker Mentoring Foundation, which is dedicated to providing mentoring to students and teachers in the tertiary education sector.
  • HRAF Advanced Research Centres which seek to undertake a more agile and multidisciplinary approach to research than is possible under modern institutional constraints. Setting up internet radio stations is an integral role of the hrafARC Anthropoetics Centre.
  • The Open Knowledge Alliance.
  • The Centre of Social Anthropology and Computing, which is based at Yale.

Further to his research, Alan is also engaged in writing a play (for radio) about the 1946 Kielce Pogrom, which it is hoped will be produced and broadcast in 2018.

Alan is available for comment and in-depth discussions on topics related to agricultural and environmental policies, natural resource management and public attitudes to food sustainability and sovereignty in the UK, USA, EU, Pakistan and Zambia.  

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