Dr David Mills

David Mills is Associate Professor in Pedagogy and the Social Sciences in the Department of Education.

His research interests in higher education include doctoral education, research ‘capacity-building’, and African university cultures. David is also Director of the ESRC Grand Union Doctoral Training Partnership. His published monographs include Ethnography and Education (2013), and Difficult Folk: A Political History of Social Anthropology (2008).

David’s research students use ethnographic methods to explore everyday educational practices and learning cultures. He welcomes enquiries from prospective students.

Recent DPhil completions:

  • Soufia Siddiqui (2017) Learning about ‘real’ Pakistan: how secondary students reinterpret citizenship education at an elite school in Lahore
  • Zainab Kabba (2017) The Education of American Muslims: Knowledge and Authority in Intensive Islamic Learning Environments
  • Hem Borker (2016), Educational Journeys and Everyday Aspirations: Making of Kamil Momina in a Girls’ Madrasa
  • Jason Todd (2017) Social Remembering and Children’s historical consciousness
  • Yang, Peidong (2014) “Foreign Talent”: Desire and Singapore’s China Scholars
  • Mahmoud Natout (2014) Between ‘prophet’ and ‘professional’: imagery and identification amongst beginning teachers in Lebanon

Current DPhil supervisees

  • Luke Buckley, writing about disciplinary regimes in an East London school
  • Chloe Walker, working on Kenyan students and shadow essay writing
  • Laura Brace, writing on navigational technologies of aspiration in an elite girls’ school
  • Emma Abotsi, working on transnational Ghanaian families and education  
  • Robyn Sneath, working on the history of Mennonite education in Canada
  • Shungmiao Han, working on Chinese Higher Education policy experiments.
  • Isaac Calvert, writing about the sacredness of Jewish pedagogy.
  • Natasha Robinson, working on South African education.


  • Mills, D (2008) Difficult folk?: A political history of social anthropology.

  • Ntarangwi, M, Mills, D, Babiker, M (2006) African Anthropologies History, Critique and Practice. Zed Books.

  • James, W, Mills, D (2005) The Qualities of Time Anthropological Approaches. Berg Publishers.

  • Mills, DS (2004) Teaching Rites and Wrongs: Universities and the making of Anthropologists. C-SAP Monographs. Birmingham: C-SAP.

Book chapters

  • Mills, DS (2015) “Related Disciplines”, In: J Carrier, D Gewertz (eds.) The Handbook of Sociocultural Anthropology. A&C Black.

  • Mills, DS (2013) “Audrey Richards”, In: RJ McGee, RL Warms (eds.) Theory in Social and Cultural Anthropology. London: SAGE.

  • Mills, D (2012) “Anthropology and education”, In: Handbook of Qualitative Research in Education. 33-47
    DOI: http://doi.org/10.4337/9781849807296.00010

  • Mills, DS (2010) “Comings and goings: Disciplinary ideologies and employment trajectories”, In: L McAlpine, G Åkerlind (eds.) New visions of academic practice: Preparing for careers in the social sciences. London: Palgrave Macmillan.

  • Mills, D (2007) “A major disaster to anthropology?: Oxford and alfred reginald radcliffe-brown”, In: A History of Oxford Anthropology. 70-79

  • Mills, DS (2007) “‘A major disaster to anthropology….’? Oxford and the Radcliffe-Brown years”, In: P Rivière (ed.) A History of Oxford Anthropology. Methodology & History in Anthropology. Berghahn Books.

  • Mills, DS (2006) “Dinner at Claridges? Anthropology and the captains of industry 1947 -1955”, In: S Pink (ed.) Applications of Anthropology Professional Anthropology in the Twenty-first Century.

  • Mills, D (2006) “Made in Manchester?: Methods and myths in disciplinary history”, In: The Manchester School: Practice and Ethnographic Praxis in Anthropology. 165-179

  • Mills, DS (2006) “How not to be a colonial ‘house pet': Audrey Richards and the East African Institute of Social Research”, In: M Ntarangwi, D Mills, M Babiker (eds.) African Anthropologies History, Critique and Practice. Zed Books.

  • Mills, DS (2006) “Those who can….? Teaching as a postgraduate”, In: N Gilbert (ed.) From Postgraduate to Social Scientist A Guide to Key Skills. London: SAGE.

  • Mills, DS (2006) “Juggling Acts: Teaching and the disciplinary vocation”, In: D Carter, M Lord (eds.) Engagements with Learning and Teaching in Higher Education. Birmingham: C-SAP.

  • Mills, D (2005) “Dinner at claridges?: Anthropology and the 'captains of industry', 1947-1955”, In: Applications of Anthropology: Professional Anthropology in the Twenty-First Century. 55-70

  • Mills, DS, Ssewakiryanga, R (2005) “No romance without finance: Masculinities, commodities and HIV in Uganda”, In: Readings in Gender in Africa. Oxford: James Currey Publishers.

  • Mills, DS (2005) “Anthropology at the End of Empire: The rise and fall of the Colonial Social Sciences Research Council 1944 -1962”, In: F Neiburg, L Sigaud, FN Benoit de L’Estoile (eds.) Empires, Nations, and Natives Anthropology and State-Making. Durham: Duke University Press Books. 135-166

  • Mills, DS, Dracklé, D, Edgar, I (2004) “Introduction: Learning Fields; Disciplinary Practices”, In: I Edgar, D Drackle (eds.) Current Policies and Practices in European Social Anthropology Education. Oxford: Berghahn Books.

  • Mills, D (2003) “'Like a horse in blinkers'?: A political history of anthropology's research ethics”, In: The Ethics of Anthropology: Debates and Dilemmas. 37-54
    DOI: http://doi.org/10.4324/9780203633670

  • Mills, DS (2003) “Teaching the Uncomfortable Science: Social Anthropology in British Universities”, In: D Drackle, I Edgar, T Schippers (eds.) Educational Histories of European Social Anthropology. Oxford: Berghahn Books.

  • Mills, DS (2003) “‘Like a horse in blinkers’? A political history of anthropology’s research ethics”, In: P Caplan (ed.) The Ethics of Anthropology Debates and Dilemmas. London: Routledge. 37-54

  • Mills, DS (1999) “Progress as discursive spectacle: but what comes after development?”, In: R Fardon, W v. Bimsbergen, R v. Dijk (eds.) Modernity on a Shoestring Dimensions of Globalization, Consumption and Development in Africa and Beyond ; Based on an EIDOS Conference Held at The Hague, 13 - 16 March 1997. London and Leide: EIDOS (European Inter-University Development Opportunities Study Group). 91-116

Journal articles

Internet publication


  • Oancea, AE, Mills, D (2014) Educational Research. Final report of the BERA Observatory 2014.. London: British Educational Research Association.

  • Mills, DS, Jepson, A, Coxon, T, Easterby-Smith, M, Hawkins, P, Spencer, J (2006) Demographic Review of the Social Sciences. Swindon: ESRC.



  • Department staff

College affiliation

  • Kellogg College


  • Associate Professor in Pedagogy and the Social Sciences

Subject area

  • Foundations of Educational Research
  • MSc Education (Higher Education)
  • Professional and Personal Research Skills
  • Qualitative Design and Data Analysis

Research groups

  • Comparative and International Education
  • Higher Education


Publications, books and other work