Richie Nimmo


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Personal profile


Postgraduate Opportunities

I am interested in receiving proposals for supervision of PhDs (1+3 or +3) or Postdoctoral Fellowships in the following areas:

  • human-animal relations; animals and society; animals and science/technology; critical animal studies; multispecies ethnography.
  • environment/nature and society; environment and science/technology; political ecology; 'Anthropocene'/'Capitalocene'.
  • more-than-human social research; posthumanism; new materialism; actor-network theory; relational socio-materialities.

Research interests

- Human-animal relations; animals and science/technology; multispecies approaches.

- Ecological crisis; political ecology; eco-Marxism; Anthropocene/Capitalocene. 
- More-than-human social research; posthumanism; actor-network theory; relational materialities.
I am intrigued by the ambiguous status of nonhumans in modern and late modern cosmologies and knowledge-practices, and the constitution of 'the social' across materially heterogeneous - and multi-species - relations, systems and flows. In social thought nonhumans are often a kind of absent presence, rendered marginal as a 'context' of human agency whilst performing the invisible work of shaping foundational notions of 'the human'. As such, my work contributes to the burgeoning posthumanist current within sociology, anthropology, geography and related disciplines, by examining socio-material relations in various historical and contemporary assemblages. 
Nonhuman animals have been a consistent presence in my research, and I am drawn to problems and controversies at the intersection of animals, environment, science and technology.
Current projects: 
i) Animals, nonhuman labour and value: a theoretical project analysing the specific role of nonhuman animal labour within capitalist production and accumulation, drawing from posthuman political economy and focusing centrally upon tracing the operation of the logic of value in relation to nonhuman work. 
ii) Trust in veterinary medicine, 'big-pharma', crowd sourced medication, and Feline Infectious Peritonitis:  an empirical project exploring how a drug re-purposed for treatment of Covid-19 has become a breakthrough treatment for an otherwise fatal virus of cats, the limited legitimate availability and prohibitive pricing of which has led to the emergence of 'black market' global supply networks using crowd-sourcing among cat owners as a substitute for veterinary medical expertise.   
Past projects have included:
- A posthumanist genealogy of modernity read as a technopolitical project of assembling a purified human ‘social’ domain, worked through a sociomaterial history of the British dairy industry.
- A multidimensional project on bees, encompassing a biopolitical reading of Colony Collapse Disorder as a crisis of the Anthropocene, and an exploration of the ontological politics of neo-Darwinist approaches to insect social behaviour.

Keywords: animals, environment, posthumanism, knowledge-practices, science and technology, materiality, relational, ontology. 



Richie is course convenor and lecturer for the following courses:

  • Sociology of Human-Animal Relations (SOCY30041) - 3rd year.
  • Sociology Dissertation (SOCY30930/20) - 3rd year.
  • Environment and Society (SOCY10202) - 1st year. 


I was awarded my PhD in Sociology from the University of Manchester in 2007. My thesis was a posthumanist socio-material history of the British Dairy Industry, grounded in archive historiography, and drawing upon actor-network theory and Foucauldian genealogy. Later that year I was fortunate enough to secure a fixed term lectureship in Sociology at the University of Aberdeen. Two years later I had the opportunity to return to Manchester as Lecturer in Sociology, and I became Senior Lecturer in 2018. 

Further information

Administrative/leadership roles:

Sociology Programme Director (April 2021-August 2021) - maternity cover. 

Sociology Undergraduate Teaching and Learning Director (Jan 2018 - July 2019). 

Sociology Programme Director (Sept 2016 - Jan 2018).

Supervision information

Current and recent doctoral supervision:

- Topo Mokokwane (2022- ): 'The Nexus of Culture and Ecology in Sustainability'. Lead Supervisor with Dr Dan Welch. 

- Maisie Tomlinson (2016-2021): 'Critical anthropomorphism' and multi-species ethnography: an investigation into animal behaviour expertise'. Lead Supervisor with Dr Sophie Woodward. - PhD Awarded.

- Jaime Garcia Iglesias (2017-2020): 'Real Pleasure, Real Risk: a philosophical and sociological perspective on men who have unsafe sex with men with the intent of contracting HIV'. Co-Supervisor with Prof. Brian Heaphy. - PhD Awarded. 

- Tibya Bonyad (2018-2023): Gender, Bio-politics and Assisted Reproductive Technologies in Iran'. Lead Supervisor with Dr Petra Nordqvist. - Submission Pending. 

Activities and esteem

Editorial Board member of the Brill Human-Animal Studies book series (since November 2021). 

Guest-editor of December 2019 themed issue of Journal of History of Science and Technology (HoST) on Animals, Science and Technology: Multispecies Histories of Scientific and Socio-technical Knowledge-Practices.

Guested-editor of mini-special issue of Discover Society (July 2019) on Factory Farming, Animals, Food, Health, Environment and Risk.

Invited author of key concept entry on Posthumanism for Sage Research Methods Foundations (2019). 

Editor of the four volume collection Actor-Network Theory Research (2016) for Sage Benchmarks in Social Research Methods.

Peer reviewer for journals including Society and Animals, Humanimalia, Animal Studies, Cultural Sociology, Sociological Review, Journal of Cultural Economy, Environmental Humanities, Environment and Planning E, and Sociology.  

Peer reviewer for book proposals and research proposals in the area of Human-Animal Studies for Routledge, Sage, the Arts and Humanities Research Council.

Animals and Society Fellow at Wesleyan University, Connecticut, in 2011, funded by the Animals and Society Institute in association with Wesleyan Animal Studies.  


Some reviews of Richie's work:

Milk, Modernity and the Making of the Human: Purifying the Social (2010) Routledge, London and New York.

“In a nuanced, thoroughly organic interweaving of theoretical argument and historical account, Nimmo delivers a genealogical historiography of the modern British dairy industry from its rise in the late nineteenth century through its dramatic intensifications of the early twentieth century. Humanist discourse is tracked through the intricate infrastructure of disciplinary instruments underpinning the sanitary, breeding, nutritional, and veterinary knowledge practices enrolled to deliver clean milk. Adopting the ‘radically symmetrical approach’ of recent social studies of science […] the book's chapters steadily lay bare the purifying processes of a fundamental humanism that organised the very ways it became possible to be human under conditions of modernity […] The contribution of Milk, Modernity and the Making of the Human is to richly elicit the tiny ingredients of that ‘work’ in all its conceptual and instrumental dimensions.” 

Professor Kay Anderson, Institute for Culture & Society, University of Western Sydney.

Actor-Network Theory Research (2016), Sage, Benchmarks in Social Research Methods, London and New York.

“Actor-Network Theory has been hugely influential across the social sciences and far beyond, and this volume serves as an ideal overview of both its core themes and its many developments and uses. Richie Nimmo has done an admirable job in compiling an excellent mix of classic statements, extended elaborations, critical commentaries, and empirical application. For anyone interested in exploring the promise of Actor-Network Theory, whether that be theoretical, methodological or political - Actor-Network Theory Research is an essential resource.” 

Professor Mike Michael, Professor of Sociology & Social Policy, University of Sydney.


Expertise related to UN Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This person’s work contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 2 - Zero Hunger
  • SDG 3 - Good Health and Well-being
  • SDG 6 - Clean Water and Sanitation
  • SDG 12 - Responsible Consumption and Production
  • SDG 13 - Climate Action
  • SDG 15 - Life on Land

External positions

External Examiner, University of East Anglia

1 Nov 20201 Sept 2023

Areas of expertise

  • HM Sociology
  • Human-animal relations
  • Actor-Network Theory
  • Posthumanism
  • New materialisms
  • Environment


  • Actor-Network Theory
  • Posthumanism
  • New materialisms
  • Environmental sociology
  • Human-Animal Studies


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