Portrait of Professor Michael Fischer

Professor Michael Fischer

Professor of Anthropological Sciences

About

Michael D. Fischer is a Professor of Anthropological Sciences who has worked mainly in the Punjab and Swat in Pakistan, and the Cook Islands. His major interests are in the representation and structure of indigenous knowledge, cultural informatics and the interrelationships between ideation and the material contexts within which ideation is expressed.

Michael has received grants from the ESRC, AHRB, SERC, MRC, HEFCE, JISC, Leverhulme and Nuffield on topics including the 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.

Teaching

Programme convenor of MA in Social Anthropology & Computing and teaching the following modules:

Undergraduate

  • SE307: Thinkers and Theories (convenor)
  • SE308: Skills for Anthropology and Conservation
  • SE587: Ethnographies 2
  • SE594: Anthropology and Development
  • SE595: Social Computing

Postgraduate

  • SE806: Research Methods in Social Anthropology 2
  • SE861: The Ethnography of Central Asian Societies

Publications

Article

  • Turner, A., Fischer, M. and Tzanopoulos, J. (2018). Sound-mapping a coniferous forest—Perspectives for biodiversity monitoring and noise mitigation. PLoS ONE [Online] 13. Available at: https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0189843.
    Acoustic diversity indices have been proposed as low-cost biodiversity monitoring tools. The acoustic diversity of a soundscape can be indicative of the richness of an acoustic community and the structural/vegetation characteristics of a habitat. There is a need to apply these methods to landscapes that are ecologically and/or economically important. We investigate the relationship between the acoustic properties of a coniferous forest with stand-age and structure. We sampled a 73 point grid in part of the UK’s largest man-made lowland coniferous plantation forest, covering a 320ha mosaic of different aged stands. Forest stands ranged from 0–85 years old providing an age-gradient. Short soundscape recordings were collected from each grid point on multiple mornings (between 6am-11am) to capture the dawn chorus. We repeated the study during July/August in 2014 and again in 2015. Five acoustic indices were calculated for a total of 889 two minute samples. Moderate relationships between acoustic diversity with forest stand-age and vegetation characteristics (canopy height; canopy cover) were observed. Ordinations suggest that as structural complexity and forest age increases, the higher frequency bands (4-10KHz) become more represented in the soundscape. A strong linear relationship was observed between distance to the nearest road and the ratio of anthropogenic noise to biological sounds within the soundscape. Similar acoustic patterns were observed in both years, though acoustic diversity was generally lower in 2014, which was likely due to differences in wind conditions between years. Our results suggest that developing these relatively low-cost acoustic monitoring methods to inform adaptive management of production landscapes, may lead to improved biodiversity monitoring. The methods may also prove useful for modelling road noise, landscape planning and noise mitigation.
  • Read, D., Fischer, M. and Lehman, F. (2014). The Cultural Grounding of Kinship: A Paradigm Shift. L'Homme [Online] 2:63-89. Available at: http://www.cairn.info/resume.php?ID_ARTICLE=LHOM_210_0063.
    English:

    Kinship systems are conceptually grounded in culturally formulated idea-systems we refer to as kinship terminologies and through which the boundaries, form and structure of human social systems are culturally constituted. A terminology, contrary to a long-standing assumption in anthropology, is not based on a prior categorization of genealogical relations, as the latter is derived from the structural logic of the kinship terminology. The terminology structure, formally represented as an algebraic structure, can be generated from primary kin terms in accordance with a hypothesized universal theory of kinship terminology structures. Terminologies differ culturally according to the primary terms and equations used for generating them. This requires a paradigm shift from the received view of genealogy as the primary basis for kin relations to a new paradigm in which kinship incorporates both a kin term space expressed through a culturally constituted idea-system we refer to as a kinship terminology and a genealogical space constructed recursively using parent-child relations. Both of these spaces are grounded in a family space composed of parent-child, spouse and sibling positions.

    French:

    Les bases culturelles de la parenté

    D’un point de vue conceptuel, les systèmes de parenté reposent sur des modes de représentation culturelle que nous appelons terminologies de parenté et à partir desquelles les limites, la forme et la structure des principes d’organisation sociale sont culturellement élaborés. Contrairement à ce que les anthropologues tiennent depuis longtemps pour acquis, une terminologie n’est pas forcément inhérente aux relations généalogiques, ces dernières découlant de la logique structurelle de la terminologie de parenté. La structure de la terminologie, représentée sous une forme algébrique, peut être produite à partir des principaux termes de parenté, suivant un principe supposé universel de structures terminologiques de la parenté. Les terminologies diffèrent, sur le plan culturel, selon les principales expressions et équations utilisées pour les élaborer. Cela implique un changement de paradigme qui nous ferait passer de la généalogie considérée comme fondement essentiel des relations de parenté à un modèle dans lequel la parenté intégrerait à la fois des termes de parenté propres à un système de représentations culturellement constitué auquel nous nous référons dans la terminologie de parenté, et une dimension généalogique élaborée de manière récursive en utilisant les relations parents/enfants. Ces deux domaines sont fondés sur un espace familial comprenant les positions de parents/enfants, conjoints, germains.
  • Read, D., Fischer, M. and Lehmann, F. (2014). Les bases culturelles de la parenté: un changement de paradigme. L'Homme 2014:63-89.
    French:
    D’un point de vue conceptuel, les systèmes de parenté reposent sur des modes de représentation culturelle que nous appelons terminologies de parenté et à partir desquelles les limites, la forme et la structure des principes d’organisation sociale sont culturellement élaborés. Contrairement à ce que les anthropologues tiennent depuis longtemps pour acquis, une terminologie n’est pas forcément inhérente aux relations généalogiques, ces dernières découlant de la logique structurelle de la terminologie de parenté. La structure de la terminologie, représentée sous une forme algébrique, peut être produite à partir des principaux termes de parenté, suivant un principe supposé universel de structures terminologiques de la parenté. Les terminologies diffèrent, sur le plan culturel, selon les principales expressions et équations utilisées pour les élaborer. Cela implique un changement de paradigme qui nous ferait passer de la généalogie considérée comme fondement essentiel des relations de parenté à un modèle dans lequel la parenté intégrerait à la fois des termes de parenté propres à un système de représentations culturellement constitué auquel nous nous référons dans la terminologie de parenté, et une dimension généalogique élaborée de manière récursive en utilisant les relations parents/enfants. Ces deux domaines sont fondés sur un espace familial comprenant les positions de parents/enfants, conjoints, germains.

    English:
    Kinship systems are conceptually grounded in culturally formulated idea-systems we refer to as kinship terminologies and through which the boundaries, form and structure of human social systems are culturally constituted. A terminology, contrary to a long-standing assumption in anthropology, is not based on a prior categorization of genealogical relations, as the latter is derived from the structural logic of the kinship terminology. The terminology structure, formally represented as an algebraic structure, can be generated from primary kin terms in accordance with a hypothesized universal theory of kinship terminology structures. Terminologies differ culturally according to the primary terms and equations used for generating them. This requires a paradigm shift from the received view of genealogy as the primary basis for kin relations to a new paradigm in which kinship incorporates both a kin term space expressed through a culturally constituted idea-system we refer to as a kinship terminology and a genealogical space constructed recursively using parent-child relations. Both of these spaces are grounded in a family space composed of parent-child, spouse and sibling positions.
  • Read, D., Fischer, M. and Leaf, M. (2013). What Are Kinship Terminologies, and Why Do We Care? A Computational Approach to Analyzing Symbolic Domains. Social Science Computer Review [Online] 31:16-44. Available at: http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/0894439312455914.
    Kinship is a fundamental feature and basis of human societies. We describe a set of computational tools and services, the Kinship Algebra Modeler, and the logic that underlies these. These were developed to improve how we understand both the fundamental facts of kinship, and how people use kinship as a resource in their lives. Mathematical formalism applied to cultural concepts is more than an exercise in model building, as it provides a way to represent and explore logical consistency and implications. The logic underlying kinship is explored here through the kin term computations made by users of a terminology when computing the kinship relation one person has to another by referring to a third person for whom each has a kin term relationship. Kinship Algebra Modeler provides a set of tools, services and an architecture to explore kinship terminologies and their properties in an accessible manner.
  • Read, D., Leaf, M. and Fischer, M. (2013). What are kinship terminologies, and why do we care? A computational approach to analyzing symbolic domains. Social Science Computer Review [Online] 31:16-44. Available at: http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/0894439312455914.
    Kinship is a fundamental feature and basis of human societies. We describe a set of computational tools and services, and the logic that underlies these, developed to improve how we understand both the fundamental facts of kinship and how people use kinship as a resource in their lives. Mathematical formalism applied to cultural concepts is more than an exercise in model building, as it provides a way to represent and explore their logical consistency and implications. Not surprisingly, kinship terminologies are particularly amenable to formal representation. Researchers throughout the history of kinship studies have noted the logicality of kinship terminology systems. The logic is explored here through the kin term computations made by users of a terminology when computing the kinship relation one person has to another by referring to a third person for whom each has a kin term relationship. Kinship Algebra Modeler provides a set of tools, services, and an architecture to explore kinship terminologies and their properties in an accessible manner.
  • Fischer, M. et al. (2013). Harmonizing Diversity: Tuning Anthropological Research to Complexity. Social Science Computer Review [Online] 31:3-15. Available at: http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/0894439312455311.
    The contributions in this issue of Social Science Computer Review represent a range of computational approaches to theoretical and disciplinary specializations in anthropology that reflect on and expand the future orientation and practice of the formal and comparative agenda in the context of an increasing emphasis on complexity in anthropology as a discipline. Themes covered in this issue include kinship, funerary burials, urban legends, eye tracking and looking at mode influences on online data collection. A common theme throughout the papers is examining the relationship between global emergent processes and structures and the local individual contributions to this emergence, and how the local and global contexts influence each other. We argue that unless complexity is addressed more overtly by leveraging computational approaches to data collection, analysis and theory building, anthropology and social science more generally face an existential challenge if they are to continue to pursue extended field research exercise, intersubjective productions, deep personal involvement, interaction with materiality and engagement with people whilst generating research outcomes of relevance to the world beyond the narrow confines of specialist journals and conferences.
  • Applin, S. and Fischer, M. (2013). Asynchronous adaptations to complex social interactions. Technology and Society Magazine, IEEE [Online] 32:35-44. Available at: http://dx.doi.org/10.1109/MTS.2013.2286426.
    The permeation of the mobile platform is creating a shift in community behavior. What began with a few individuals, has now quickly replicated as many people communicate not only through mobile phones, but through smartphones that are multi-functioning communications computers. Mobile devices have broadened people's capability and reach, and within that context, people have adapted their behavior to adjust to communications "on the go." In this article we explore how multiplexed networked individuated communications are creating new contexts for human behavior within communities, particularly noting the shift from synchronous to asynchronous communication as an adaptation.
  • Kemp-Benedict, E., Bharwani, S. and Fischer, M. (2010). Using matching methods to link social and physical analyses for sustainability planning. Ecology and Society [Online] 15:4-4. Available at: http://www.ecologyandsociety.org/vol15/iss3/art4/.
    Sustainability planning requires an understanding of social and physical systems and their interactions. However, there is a mismatch between the methods of the social sciences and those of the natural sciences. Although there have been numerous attempts to adapt the methods of the natural sciences for use in the social sciences, the results are usually unsatisfactory. Key features of societies such as institutions and power relationships, and of individuals such as the rich symbolic systems by which individuals transmit knowledge, do not lend themselves to the standard analytical methods of the natural sciences.
    We argue that rather than transfer the methods of one discipline to the other, an appropriate goal can be to seek “matching methods” that work at the boundary between the social and natural sciences. We discuss how knowledge elicitation tools (KnETs) can be used to develop matching methods. An explicit example is provided by combining a KnETs-derived decision tree with a physical water allocation model that was built using the scenario-based Water Evaluation and Planning (WEAP) software. We conclude that, through a relatively weak link, the social and physical domains can be effectively combined for integrated planning using matching methods, thereby permitting a more holistic approach to sustainable resource planning.
  • Fischer, M. (2008). Cultural dynamics: formal descriptions of cultural processes. Structure and Dynamics [Online] 3:n/a-n/a. Available at: https://escholarship.org/uc/item/557126nz.
  • Fischer, M. (2008). culture, theory-building, multi-agent modelling, formalization. Structure and Dynamics [Online] 3:1-16. Available at: http://www.escholarship.org/uc/item/557126nz.
    Formalization is typically associated by both supporters and detractors of formal methods with an emphasis on form over content or meaning. However well founded, this association fails to capture why we employ (or not) formal descriptions of what we are describing.

    One problem arises when we try to directly link human thought to human behavior (or vice versa); assuming the process of going from one to the other is complex and idiosyncratic, but direct. In this paper I examine an approach to developing a formal system that helps us represent the relationship between ideational and behavioral aspects of socio-cultural phenomena in a manner that is consistent with, and helps address the connections between, symbolic and materialist approaches.

    People embedded in cultural processes demonstrate remarkable powers of creation, transformation, stability and regulation. Culture gives agents the power to hyper-adapt: not only can they achieve local minima and maxima, they modify or create the conditions for new adaptations. Culture transcends material and behavioral contexts. Cultural solutions are instantiated in material and behavioral terms, but are based in large part on ‘invented’ symbolic constructions of the interaction space and its elements. We will present an example of how a symbolic system 'drives' the material organization of human groups, explore how symbolic systems act over material domains as a general case, and examine some of the implications of this for multi-agent modelling as a theory-building process.
  • Lyon, M. and Fischer, M. (2006). Anthropology and displacement: Culture, communication and computers applied to a real world problem. Anthropology in Action 13:40-53.
  • Fischer, M. (2006). The ideation and instantiation of arranging marriage in an urban community in Pakistan, 1982-2000. Contemporary South Asia 15:325-339.
  • Fischer, M. (2006). The ideation and instantiation of arranging marriage within an urban community in Pakistan, 1982–2000. Contemporary South Asia [Online] 15:325-339. Available at: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/09584930601098067.
  • Fischer, M. (2006). Introduction: Configuring anthropology. Social Science Computer Review 24:3-14.
    The authors present examples of how anthropologists are presently using computers to advance ethnographic research in new directions while building on what has come before. All the methods, protocols, and tools created by the authors are free, open source, and available on the Internet. The contributions are the authors' attempts to address greater complexity through greater control over the data and structures within which anthropologists work. These methods are suitable to a large number of problems, basic and applied, across the range of anthropology from its humanities axis to its science axis. Anthropology is what anthropologists make of it, and each author is attempting to make a little bit more of anthropology and to configure anthropology for addressing old problems in new ways and positioning anthropology to address new problems and new opportunities to influence others through anthropology.
  • Fischer, M. (2006). The ideation and instantiation of arranging marriage within an urban community in Pakistan, 1982-2000. Contemporary South Asia [Online] 15:325-339. Available at: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/09584930601098067.
    Using longitudinal data and marriage arrangements in urban Pakistan, this paper discusses the consequences of changes in ideational systems. Merging different theoretical approaches (or cultures) within cultural anthropology, it argues that, while symbol systems are not an analogue of an external world, nevertheless they are effective drivers for how people relate to, adapt to and modify the external relations within which they are embedded. This allows for the accommodation of analytic viewpoints that favour both the symbolic construction of reality and the behavioural relations of how this construction is enacted.
  • Fischer, M., Read, D. and Lyon, S. (2005). Cultural systems - Introduction. Cybernetics and Systems: an International Journal [Online] 36:719-734. Available at: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/01969720500356654.
  • Fischer, M. (2005). Culture and Indigenous Knowledge Systems: Emergent Order and the Internal Regulation of Shared Symbolic Systems Trappl, R. ed. Cybernetics and Systems: an International Journal [Online] 36:735-752. Available at: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/01969720500306113.
    I explore the relationship between culture, knowledge and behaviour in a context of change, comparing scientific with cultural knowledge. I argue that applications (or instantiations) of scientific knowledge are not the same as science, and undergo a process that has properties not unlike those described by Ellen and Harris for 'Indigenous Knowledge' (IK). This process uses knowledge that is not derived from the system represented, but nevertheless is necessary for the system to operate in a contingent world even though this knowledge was not in the original subset of knowledge being applied. This consideration of knowledge about what contexts must be instantiated to enable domain knowledge to be instantiated builds on Ellen's concept of prehension, which in part includes the anticipatory knowledge a subject brings to a situation. I suggest the operative principles in IK have similar properties.
  • Fischer, M., Read, D. and Lyon, S. (2005). Introduction. Cybernetics and Systems: an International Journal [Online] 36:719-734. Available at: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/01969720500356654.
  • Fischer, M. (2004). Integrating Anthropological approaches to the Study of Culture: the 'Hard' and the 'Soft' Trappl, ? ed. Cybernetics and Systems: an International Journal [Online] 35:147-162. Available at: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/01969720490426830.

Book section

  • Fischer, M. and Ember, C. (2018). Big Data and Research Opportunities Using HRAF Databases. in: Chen, S. -H. ed. Big Data in Computational Social Science and Humanities. Springer. Available at: http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-95465-3.
    The HRAF databases, eHRAF World Cultures and eHRAF Archaeology, each containing large corpora of curated text subject-indexed at the paragraph-level by anthropologists, were designed to facilitate rapid retrieval of information. The texts describe social and cultural life in past and present societies around the world. As of the spring of 2017, eHRAF contains almost 3 million indexed “paragraph” units from over 8,000 documents describing over 400 societies and archaeological traditions. This chapter first discusses concrete problems of scale resulting from large numbers of complex elements retrieved by any given search. Second, we discuss potential and partial solutions that resolve these problems to advance research, whether based on specific hypotheses, classification or identifying and evaluating embedded patterns of relationships. Third, we discuss new kinds of research possibilities that can be further advanced, have not yet been successfully attempted, or have not even been considered using anthropological data because of scale and complexity of achieving a result.
  • Fischer, M., Lyon, S. and Zeitlyn, D. (2017). The Internet and the Future of Social Science Research. in: Fielding, N., Lee, R. M. and Blank, G. eds. The Sage handbook of online research methods. London UK and Beverly Hills USA: Sage, pp. 611-627.
    This chapter discusses how new or expanded capabilities emergent from IRCT may contribute to changing social science research, particularly how research topics, methods and capabilities might change with increasing integration of IRCT into the daily social lives of most people in developed and developing societies. We have not limited ourselves to online research because we believe that firm distinctions between online and offline research is a present phenomenon, and that online research will rapidly become one of the many different contexts within which research is carried out – not the odd one out.However, we expect all social science research to change, for the very reasons that online research will become accepted and ordinary when online social phenomena become integrated into wider social and cultural life.
  • Applin, S. and Fischer, M. (2017). Thing Theory: Connecting Humans to Smart Healthcare. in: Reis, C. I. and Maximiano, M. da S. eds. Internet of Things and Advanced Application in Healthcare. Portugal: IGI-Global, pp. 249-266. Available at: http://dx.doi.org/10.4018/978-1-5225-1820-4.ch009.
    Healthcare providers will enter location-aware smart environments with the expectation that their devices will integrate, their location will be incorporated, and the environment that they are within will specifically respond to their needs, as well as to the needs of their patients. Cooperation and coordination in complex environments requires people to have access to appropriate contextually sensitive information, some of which must be shared between them. To plan and design effective location-aware smart environments for healthcare, tools are required for integrating and responding to human needs and anticipating human intents and desires. A location-aware healthcare smart environment is another layer within this already highly heterogeneous system of communication. Each component in a location-aware smart environment network can generate data and send messages that must be processed, understood and responded to in some manner. In a healthcare environment, well placed software agents can help manage critical messages shared between sensors, low level software agents and the people who act on this information, improving care for patients and outcomes for providers. The authors’ propose a framework based on the agency of both humans and environmental components: Thing Theory, a logic-based agent framework that evolves discussion on how to connect humans to a healthcare environment designed to function for their benefit.
  • Ellen, R. and Fischer, M. (2013). Introduction: On the Concept of Cultural Transmission. in: Lycett, S. J. and Johns, S. E. eds. Understanding Cultural Transmission in Anthropology: A Critical synthesis. Oxford: Berghahn, Oxford. Available at: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Understanding-Cultural-Transmission-Anthropology-Methodology/dp/178238071X.
  • Applin, S. and Fischer, M. (2013). Watching Me, Watching You: (Process surveillance and agency in the workplace). in: 2013 IEEE International Symposium on Technology and Society (ISTAS),. IEEE, pp. 268-275. Available at: http://dx.doi.org/10.1109/ISTAS.2013.6613129.
    The notion that computers are somehow separate from our lives is misleading and ignores the level of integration that has emerged. Most of the processes that dispense, load, and deliver the supplies that sustain cosmopolitan life are impacted by some form of computer in one way or another. The systems created when networks of computers intersect with networks of people are shaping our current cultural environment and the way that we exist in the world. This phenomena has created multiple types of interactions that are hybrids between humans and machines and at present, the balance of human behavior towards other humans is impacted by processes in business and elsewhere that have an over arching governance based on machines. This limits human agency and impacts understanding, service and privacy rights for humans. Further, these processes increasingly depend on greater and greater quantities of what had previously been considered personal information, often scraped from online processes people do not anticipate, yielding an often revealing portrait of themselves. Also, a poorly configured paradigm has created a culture where, when systems are required for big business, people more often alter their behavior to suit machines and work with them, rather than the other way around, and that this has eroded conceptions of agency. We explore the use of Thing-theory to implement a partial means of implementing mutual surveillance between management and workers to increase human agency while developing more adaptive and efficient business processes.
  • Ellen, R. and Fischer, M. (2013). Introduction: on the concept of cultural transmission. in: Ellen, R. F., Lycett, S. J. and Johns, S. E. eds. Understanding cultural transmission in anthropology: a critical synthesis. New York, Oxford: Berghahn, pp. 1-54.
  • Fischer, M. and Kronenfeld, D. (2011). Simulation (and Modeling). in: Kronenfeld, D. B. et al. eds. A Companion to Cognitive Anthropology. Wiley-Blackwell, pp. 210-226. Available at: http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/9781444394931.ch12.
  • Fischer, M., Lyon, S. and Zeitlyn, D. (2008). The Internet and the Future of Social Science Research. in: Fielding, N., Lee, R. M. and Blank, G. eds. The Sage Handbook Of Online Research Methods. London: Sage, pp. 519-536.
  • Fischer, M. (2006). Cultural agents: A community of minds. in: Dikenelli, O., Gleizes, M. -P. and Ricci, A. eds. Engineering Societies in the Agents World Vi. Berlin: Springer-Verlag Berlin, pp. 259-274.
    Intelligent agents embedded in cultural processes demonstrate remarkable powers of creation, transformation, stability and regulation. As G.P. Murdock said in his 1971 Huxley Lecture, culture and social structure are not divine law within which individuals simply satisfy their assigned objectives and then die. Culture gives agents the power to hyper-adapt: not only can they achieve local minima and maxima, they modify or create the conditions for adaptation. Culture transcends material and behavioural contexts. Cultural solutions are instantiated in material and behavioural terms, but are based in large part on 'invented' symbolic constructions of the interaction space and its elements. Although the level of 'intelligence' required to enact culture is relatively high, agents that enact culture create conditions to which other, less intelligent, agents will also adapt. A little culture goes a long way. We will consider culture design criteria and how these can be represented in agent-based models and how culture-based solutions might contribute to our global management of knowledge.
  • Fischer, M. (2003). Powerful knowledge: applications in a cultural context. in: Bicker, A., Sillitoe, P. and Pottier, J. eds. Development and local knowledge: new approaches to issues in natural resources management, conservation and agriculture. London, UK: Routledge Harwood, pp. 19-30.
  • Fischer, M. (2002). Indigenous Knowledge and Expert Knowledge in Development. in: Silatoe, P. and Bicker, A. eds. The contribution of indigenous knowledge to economic development. Harwood.
  • Zeitlyn, D. and Fischer, M. (2002). Ritual, ideation and performance: A Case Study of Multimedia in Anthropological Research - the Mambila Nggwun Ritual (paper presented to16th European Meeting on Cybernetics and Systems Research (EMCSR), April 2-5, 2002). in: Trappl, R. ed. Cybernetics and Systems 2002. Vienna, Austria: Austrian Society for Cybernetic Studies, pp. 393-8.
  • Fischer, M. (2000). Model Marriage in Pakistan. in: Rao, V. and Boeck, F. eds. Kinship and substance in South Asia.
  • Buchler, I., Fischer, M. and McGoodwin, J. (1986). Ecological structure, economics, and social organization: the Kapauku. in: De Muer, G. ed. New Trends in Mathematical Anthropology. Routledge Kegan & Paul, pp. 57-124.

Monograph

  • Fischer, M., Kortendick, O. and Zeitlyn, D. (2003). The CSAC Context Coding System. CSAC (Centre for Social Anthropology and Computing) Monographs.
  • Mayer, R., Cantwell, C. and Fischer, M. (2001). Fully illustrated catalogue of the Waddel NGB. CSAC (Centre for Social Anthropology and Computing).
  • Fischer, M., Kortendick, O. and Zeitlyn, D. (1996). APFT Content Code System. Centre for Social Anthropology and Computing.

Conference or workshop item

  • Applin, S. and Fischer, M. (2016). Cooperating with Algorithms in the Workplace. in: Algorithms at Work Workshop at CSCW 2016. San Francisco USA: ACM.
  • Applin, S. and Fischer, M. (2016). Exploring Cooperation with Social Machines. in: World Wide Web Conference 2016. International World Wide Web Conferences Steering Committee. Available at: http://dx.doi.org/10.1145/2872518.2890591.
  • Applin, S. and Fischer, M. (2015). New Technologies and Mixed-Use Convergence How Humans and Algorithms are Adapting to Each Other. in: IEEE International Symposium on Technology and Society. Dublin: IEEE. 2015. IEEE. Available at: http://dx.doi.org/10.1109/ISTAS.2015.7439436.
    Human experience with technology has shifted from technological contexts requiring occasional intervention by a fraction of people mostly in command of technologies, to technological contexts that require constant ongoing participation from most people to complete tasks. We examine the current state of `mixed-use' new technologies integration with legacy systems, and whether the human assistance required to complete tasks and processes could function as a training ground for future smart systems, or whether increasing `co-dependence with' or `training of' algorithmic systems, enhancing task completion and inadvertently educating systems in human behaviour and intelligence, will simply subsume people into the algorithmic landscape. As the Internet of Things (IoT) arises in conjunction with advancing robotics and drone technology, semi and fully automated algorithmic systems are being developed that intersect with human experience in new and heterogeneous ways. Many new technologies are not yet flexible enough to support the choices people require in their daily lives, due to limitations in the algorithmic `logics' used that restrict options to predetermined pathways conceived of by programmers. This greatly limits human agency, and presently the potential to overcome problems that arise in processes. In this mixed-use period, we have the opportunity to develop new ways to address ethical guidance as knowledge that machines can learn. We explore promoting embedding of ethically-based principles into automated contexts through: (1) developing mutually agreed automated external ethical review systems (human or otherwise) that evaluate conformance across multiple ethical codes and provide feedback to designers, agents, and users on the distribution of conformance; (2) focusing on review systems to drive distributed development of embedded ethical principles in individual services by responding to this feedback to develop ongoing correction through dynamic adaption or incremental releases; and (3) using multi-agent simulation tools to forecast scenarios in real time.
  • Applin, S. and Fischer, M. (2011). Pervasive Computing in Time and Space: The Culture and Context of 'Place' Integration. in: Intelligent Environments (IE), 2011 7th International Conference on. Nottingham: IEEE, pp. 285-293. Available at: http://dx.doi.org/doi:10.1109/IE.2011.65.
    We consider some possible broad changes that may impact society as a whole as a result of widespread integration of full-spectrum deployed pervasive computing technologies. Our approach considers design challenges for successfully developing and integrating pervasive technologies into culture and society. This is particularly challenging, since pervasive technologies as services are most successful when transparent, invisible, overlooked, unacknowledged and seemingly forgotten by the very groups that embrace their usage and development. We suggest a heuristic for understanding pervasive technology from an anthropological/social perspective, along with a reminder that humans create, shape and use the technologies that affect them. In particular, we look at the impact on social relations in a poly-social world where people must develop means to blend their own realities with those of of others. In conclusion, we remind those developing these technologies, that although we will eventually become wedded and intertwined as cyborgs within this new environment, it may have a positive outcome, creating new social group models for human interaction.

Book

  • Fischer, M. and Zeitlyn, D. (1999). Experience Rich Anthropology. Resource Guide and Sampler CD for teachers and Students. [Online]. Canterbury: CSAC, University of Kent, UK. Available at: http://era.anthropology.ac.uk/.
  • Fischer, M. (1994). Applications in Computing for Social Anthropologists. [Online]. London: Routledge. Available at: http://books.google.co.uk/books?id=jNrpPFt-B2UC.
    As increasing numbers of social anthropologists use a computer for wordprocessing, interest in other applications inevitably follows, Computer Applications in Social Anthropology covers research activities shared by all social anthropologists and introduces new methods for organizing and interpreting data. Lucidly written, and sympathetic to the particular needs of social anthropologists, it will be of immense value to researchers and professionals in anthropology, development studies and sociology.

Edited book

  • Fischer, M. (2011). A Companion to Cognitive Anthropology. [Online]. Kronenfeld, D. B. et al. eds. Wiley-Blackwell. Available at: http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/9781444394931.

Forthcoming

  • Fischer, M. (2018). Ecological modelling. in: International Encyclopedia of Anthropology. Wiley-Blackwell.
    An ecological model relates interactions within and between people and other life forms in an ecosystem context. Anthropologists use ecological modelling to address issues such as sustainability of cultural practices, population structures responding to policies, or ecological impacts of human activities. In Anthropology ecological modelling initially arose in response to Cultural Ecology as developed by Julian Steward and Leslie White, but eventually positioned agency and cultural processes as the principle drivers in ecosystems. Ecological models tend towards explanatory rather than descriptive accounts, with detail often specified at the level of individual interactions. Ecological modelling makes possible research that might otherwise be unethical or impractical.
  • Ember, C. and Fischer, M. (2017). Using eHRAF World Cultures with other cross-cultural samples. in: White, D. ed. Wiley Cross-cultural Research Companion. NY USA: Wiley-Blackwell.
    The Human Relations Area Files (HRAF) was founded in 1949 as a membership consortium with the goal of facilitating the comparative study of human behavior. The files consist of millions of paragraphs of ethnographic works finely indexed at the paragraph-level to support fnding related in- formation from multiple ethnographies. The HRAF Collection of Ethnography supports a broad range of comparative research, much of it qualitative where students and scholars use the eHRAF application to identify and collate relevant ethnographic information from a number of societies on a topic of interest, such as child socialization, which they then read and compare between societies. We recommend one of two strategies for sampling from the cultures documented in the HRAF Collection. The frst is to use the 60-culture subset of the HRAF Collection—the Probability Sample Files (PSF), perhaps supplemented by HRAF’s Simple Random Sample (societies chosen randomly from the over 2,000 societies listed in the Ember et al.’s concordance (1992).