Keir Martin

PhD (The University of Manchester)
Lecturer in Social Anthropology, The University of Manchester
PopAnth Author

Keir is a lecturer in Social Anthropology at Manchester University. He writes for The Guardian and is a stand-up comedian in his spare time. Keir’s main research has been in Papua New Guinea (PNG), where he conducted two years of fieldwork. He studied the contested politics of custom in the post-colonial state and examining the ways in which differing ideas of the meaning of ‘custom’ shed light upon social stratification. Keir is the author of “The Death of the Big Men and the Rise of the Big Shots: Custom and Conflict in East New Britain.”


In 1994, the Pacific island village of Matupit was partially destroyed by a volcanic eruption. This study focuses on the subsequent reconstruction and contests over the morality of exchanges that are generative of new forms of social stratification. Such new dynamics of stratification are central to contemporary processes of globalization in the Pacific, and more widely. Through detailed …

PopAnth Articles

The uses and abuses of reciprocity and the Big Society

The uses and abuses of reciprocity and the Big Society

In 1925, Marcel Mauss observed that market-based morality would undermine itself if it led to a widespread loss of faith in the idea that markets are compatible with fairness and solidarity. Was he right?Read on »