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 5-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.

Selected publications

  • 2019. “Energy and Ethics?”. Special Issue of the Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute. Co-edited with J. Smith and available for Open Access.
  • 2019. “Projects of Devotion: Energy exploration and moral ambition in the cosmoeconomy of oil and gas in the Western United States”. Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute, available for Open Access.
  • 2017. “Exploring the anthropology of energy: Ethnography, energy and ethics”. Special Issue of Energy Research & Social Science. Co-edited with J. Smith.

In addition to her academic publications, she also explores these issues in collaborations with artists and film makers as well as in her work as co-Chair for Research on the Environmental Sustainability Board at the University of St Andrews.