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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



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

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 the 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. More recently, I have been collaborating with Professor Bill Adams and Jonathon Turnbull on a project relating to the digital mediation of nonhuman animals.

Broader research interests include: ecological and conservation science; genetics; science and technology studies; existentialism; posthumanism; hauntology and spectral geographies; 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: 321-45.
  • Searle, A. 2020. Absence. Environmental Humanities 12.1: 167-72.
  • Searle, A. and Turnbull, J. 2020. Resurgent natures? More-than-human perspectives on Covid-19. Dialogues in Human Geography 10.2: 291-295.
  • Turnbull, J., Searle, A., and Adams, WM. 2020. Quarantine encounters with digital animals: More-than-human geographies of lockdown life. Journal of Environmental Media 1 (Supplement): 6.1-10.

Public scholarship

  • Searle, A., and Turnbull, J. 2020. Pitch invasion! Football felines. The Urban Field Naturalist: 5 August.
  • Turnbull, J., Searle, A. and Adams, WM. 2020. Quarantine urban ecologies. Cultural Anthropology: Fieldsights: 19 May.
  • Searle, A., and Turnbull, J. 2020. Winged fragility: Flight from evolution to extinction. King's Review 6: 50-5
  • Turnbull, J. and Searle, A. 2020. Anthropo(s)cene V: Extinction. The Philosopher 108.2: 107-11
  • Turnbull, J. and Searle, A. 2020. Anthropo(s)cene IV: Affect. The Philosopher 108.1: 110-3
  • Turnbull, J. and Searle, A. 2019. Anthropo(s)cene III: Matter/Materiality. The Philosopher 107.4: 52-4
  • Searle, A. 2019. De-extinction and CRISPR conservation. BluSci 45: 22-3.
  • Turnbull, J. and Searle, A. 2019. Anthropo(s)cene II: Animals. The Philosopher 107.3: 68-70
  • Turnbull, J. and Searle, A. 2019. Anthropo(s)cene I: Posthumanisms. The Philosopher 107.2: 52-4

In addition to the quarterly column in The Philosopher coauthored with Jonathon Turnbull, we worked as guest editors for the journal's winter 2020 edition (108.1) entitled The Other Animals, which included articles from Bill Adams, Maan Barua and Anindya Sinha, Eva Giraud, Lori Gruen, Christine Korsgaard, Diane Morgan, and Cary Wolfe.

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]
    • More-than-human haunted landscapes (1): Absence
    • More-than-human haunted landscapes (2): Disturbance
    • More-than-human haunted landscapes (3): Hope

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