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Adam Searle

Adam Searle

PhD Candidate, King's College

Environmental and cultural geographer interested in the role of genetic technologies in wildlife conservation and the political ecology of extinction

Geógrafo ambiental y cultural interesado en el papel de las tecnologías genéticas en la conservación de fauna y flora y la ecología política de la extinción

Géographe environnemental et culturel intéressé par le rôle des technologies génétiques dans la conservation de la faune et de la flore et par l'écologie politique de l'extinction



  • (2017-) PhD in Geography, University of Cambridge
  • (2017) MSc (Dist.) in Nature, Society, and Environmental Governance, University of Oxford
  • (2016) BSc (Hons., First) in Ecological and Environmental Sciences, University of Edinburgh

Funding and awards

  • (2017-) Vice-Chancellor's and King's Scholarship, Doctoral Studentship
  • (2019) Pressland Fund Essay Prize, University of Cambridge Language Centre
  • (2018) AJ Pressland Award, University of Cambridge Language Centre
  • (2017) Dissertation Prize, School of Geography and the Environment, Oxford
  • (2017) Examination Performance Award, St Edmund Hall, Oxford
  • (2017) St Edmund Hall Research Grant, Oxford
  • (2016) Garton Prize and Medal, The University of Edinburgh
  • (2016) Class Medal, School of GeoSciences, Edinburgh


My research explores conservation in the post-genomic age, focussing on the politics and geographies of 'de-extinction': the restoration of extinct populations through cloning. Combining approaches from more-than-human geography and science and technology studies, my doctoral thesis is grounded in the case of the bucardo, or Pyrenean ibex, examining the historical and cultural elements at play in the politics of the subspecies' life after extinction.

Through a thorough investigation of the bucardo, I speculate on the futures and viabilities of de-extinction as a conservation strategy, considering the multifaceted consequences of extinction's potential reversibility. In considering these themes, I advocate a qualitative methodology to study the agency, materiality, and semiotics of genes from a posthumanist perspective. I hope to engage a broad range of perspectives on de-extinction in an effort to comment on the overarching ethical, political, and ecological issues in question.

During my year of fieldwork from 2018-2019 I was visiting researcher at the Institut de Ciència i Tecnologia Ambientals (Institute of Environmental Science and Technology), based at Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona, where I collaborated on research into socio-ecological systems. Previous geographical projects have included work on the epistemological properties of islands and the role of landscape in science. I have a background in biology and have worked as a field assistant on scientific expeditions, most notably as a member of The University of Edinburgh's St Kilda Soay Sheep project, an experience to which I owe my fascination with genetics.

Broader research interests include: ecological and conservation science; genetics; science and technology studies; existentialism; posthumanism; hauntology; more-than-human geographies; political ecology; landscape; affect.

Por favor póngase en contacto conmigo para más detalles de mi investigación en castellano.

S'il vous plaît me contacter pour plus de détails de mes recherches en français.


Journal articles

  • Searle, A. 2020. Anabiosis and the liminal geographies of de/extinction. Environmental Humanities 12.1 (forthcoming)
  • Searle, A. 2020. Absence. Environmental Humanities 12.1 (forthcoming)

Together with Jonathon Turnbull, I write a quarterly column called Anthropo(s)cene for the long-standing British philosophy journal The Philosopher, where we discuss the importance of various philosophical fields for our understandings of the Anthropocene. Thematic writings include 'posthumanisms', 'animals', 'matter', and 'affect'. In addition we worked as guest editors for The Philosopher's Winter 2020 edition entitled 'The Other Animals' (Volume 108, Issue 1). Please contact me for more information.

Conference panels

  • Co-convenor with Jonny Turnbull, 'More-than-human haunted landscapes: Trace-ing binaries of hope/desolation', RGS-IBG Conference 2019, London, UK [co-sponsored by Social and Cultural Geography Research Group and the Postgraduate Forum]

Conference presentations

  • Searle, A. 2020* Chimeras for purity: Politics and paradoxes in interspecific cloning. More-than-human Collaborations in Geographical Research, University of Cambridge, UK
  • Searle, A. 2019. Everyday extinction: Conjuring landscapes of absence. RGS Annual Conference, London, UK
  • Searle, A. 2019. Anabiosis: The liminal geographies of de/extinction. Animal Remains, The University of Sheffield, UK
  • Searle, A. 2018. Hauntology and revenants in de/extinction: Liminality, authenticity, and spectres of the animal. Rethinking Animality: International Animal Studies Conference, Universidade de Santiago de Compostela, Spain
  • Searle, A. 2018. La muerte es el espectáculo nacional: Knowing the bucardo through spectre, duende, and spectacle. Association of Contemporary Iberian Studies Conference, Universitat de Barcelona, Spain
  • Searle, A. 2018. Metagenomic worlds: Trace DNA and (un)commonality. (Un)Common Worlds: Human-Animal Studies Conference, Turku University, Finland
  • Searle, A. 2018. Cloning for conservation: Exploring the opportunities, limits, and ethics of de-extinction. Student Conference on Conservation Science, University of Cambridge, UK
  • Searle, A. 2017. Finding Eden, making Adam: John Morton Boyd and the genesis of Hebridean naturalism. 24th AISNA Biennial Conference, Università degli Studi di Milano, Italy

* Conference postponed due to social distancing measures related to the Covid-19 pandemic.


  • Geography tripos supervisions:
    • Part IA: Understanding Cultural Geographies
    • Part IA: Society, Environment, and Sustainable Development
    • Part IB: Mallorca Field Trip
      • Sustainability, Tourism, Gentrification, Everyday Geographies
      • Biogeography, Quaternary and Coastal Studies
    • Part II: Environmental Knowledges and the Politics of Expertise
      • Understanding Animals
      • Animal Spaces
      • Animal Controversies
  • External lectures:
    • Institut Barcelona d'Estudis Internacionals: MSc Natural Resources, Environment, and Development
    • Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona: Ecological Economics, Ethnoecology, and Integrated Assessment

External activities