Department of Anthropology and Sociology

Professor André Singer

Key information

Department of Anthropology and Sociology Professorial Research Associate
DPhil (Oxford)
Email address


André Singer was awarded his doctorate from Oxford University as an anthropologist and has subsequently followed a twin-track career in both anthropology and filmmaking.

As an anthropologist, his research was in Iran and Afghanistan where his fieldwork in 1970/71 was on the sedentarisation of pastoral Timuri nomads in the Kurasan province of Iran. Other field visits to Afghanistan and Pakistan lead to publications including Lords of the Khyber (1984) and The Pathans (1982).

He joined Granada Television as an anthropological advisor in 1973 and has now been in the documentary film world for over forty years as researcher, producer, director, executive producer and commissioning editor. His experience runs from being Series Editor of Disappearing World, to heading the BBC Documentary Department’s Independent Unit where he set up the Fine Cut series (later to become Storyville) and worked with such international filmmakers as Jean Rouch, Werner Herzog, David MacDougal, Vikram Jayanti, D.B. Pennebaker, Mike Grigsby, Bob Drew and Fred Wiseman. In the past decade Singer has executive produced The Secret Life of Uri Geller by Vikram Jayanti, We Went to War by the late Mike Grigsby, Dreams of a Life by Carol Morley, the multiple award-winning and Oscar nominated diptych The Act of Killing and The Look of Silence by Josh Oppenheimer; City 40 by Samira Goetzels; and They Will Have to Kill Us First by Johanna Schwartz. As director,he specialised for many years in anthropological films including The Pathans, Witchcraft Among the Azande, The Goddess and the ComputerThe Kazakhs of China, and the Stranger’s Abroad series. His more recent film as director, Night Will Fall (following the restoration and release of the 1945 US and UK government propaganda film ‘German Concentration Camps, a Factual Survey’ has been a major festival and broadcast success winning two Focal Awards, the Royal Television Society Award, the Peabody Award and the Emmy for best history documentary.

In 2016 he produced the Werner Herzog film (with whom he has collaborated on 14 other productions) about mankind’s relationship with volcanoes (Into the Inferno);and similarly produced the Herzog and co-director Clive Oppenheimer’s film about mankind’s relationship with meteorites called Fireball : Visitors from Darker Worlds released in 2020. In 2017, Singer directed a film (Where the Wind Blew) about nuclear weapon testing in Kazakhstan and Nevada which won the Raven Award for best Documentary Feature at DocUtah in 2017. A further film, co-directed with Werner Herzog, is about the legacy of Mikhail Gorbachev (Meeting Gorbachev) was completed in 2018 and broadcast in 2019. André Singer is CEO of London-based production company, Spring Films Ltd, and Adjunct Professor of Anthropology at the University of Southern California, Los Angeles. From 2014 to 2018 he was President of the Royal Anthropological Institute of Great Britain and Ireland and is currently Emeritus President of the RAI.

Research interests


André Singer roles: Director unless stated as follows: [P] = Producer; [SP] = Series Producer; [EP] = Executive Producer; [R] = Researcher/anthropologist

*= part of the Disappearing World series of which André Singer was Series Editor between 1980 – 1983.

  • TINDERBOX directed by Gillian Mosley [EP] (2020)
  • MY GRANDFATHER THE SPY? Directed by David Evans and Martin Scanlon [EP] (2020)
  • FIREBALL : VISIONS from DARKER WORLDS Werner Herzog and Clive Oppenheimer co-directors [P] (2020)
  • INDIAN SPACE-DREAMS 1x90 directed by Sue Sudbury [EP] (2019)
  • MEETING GORBACHEV 1x80 co-directed with Werner Herzog (2019)
  • WHERE THE WIND BLOWS 1x90  (2018)
  • INTO THE INFERNO directed by Werner Herzog [P] (2016)
  • THEY WILL HAVE TO KILL ME FIRST directed by Johanna Schwartz [EP] (2016)
  • FAMILY GOLDMINE directed by Robbie Fraser for BBC Scotland [EP] (2015)
  • THE LOOK OF SILENCE directed by Josh Oppenheimer [EP] (2015)
  • THE ACT OF KILLING directed by Josh Oppenheimer [EP] (2013)
  • Series Consultant on BBC’s 15-part ‘Tribe’ series between (2006/7)
  • THE WHITE DIAMOND directed by Werner Herzog [EP] (2004)
  • THE WHEEL OF TIME directed by Werner Herzog [EP] (2003)
  • PIPE DREAMS directed by David Goodale for BBC2 [EP] (2000)
  • FORBIDDEN RITES  3x 1hr series ; director and Series Producer for National Geographic (1999)
  • DIVINE MAGIC  8x 1hr for C4/Discovery/RTE; [SP]  (1994-6)
  • MILLENIUM 8x1hr presented by David Maybury-Lewis for BBC2/KCET ; (1993) [EP]
  • MEMORIES AND DREAMS directed by Melissa Llewellyn-Davies for BBC [EP] (1992)
  • TIME OF THE BARMEN directed by David MacDougall for BBC [EP/SP] (1993)
  • MADAME L’EAU directed by Jean Rouch for BBC [EP/co-P] (1992)
  • OUR HOME AND NATIVE LAND directed by Gil Cardinal for BBC [SP/EP] (1992)
  • HOBO directed by John T Davis for BBC [EP/SP] (1991)
  • MY CRASY LIFE directed by Jean-Pierre Gorin for BBC [SP/EP] (1992)
  • BITTER THORNS directed by Nick Gifford for BBC [EP/SP] (1991)
  • IMPERFECT JOURNEY directed by Haile Gerima for BBC [EP/SP] (1991)
  • IN SEARCH OF BUDDHA directed by Paolo Brunatto for BBC [EP/SP] (1992)
  • THE HANGING GARDENS OF ARABIA director for C4 (1990)
  • THE LAST NAVIGATOR director for C4/WGBH ; (1989)
  • THE GODESS AND THE COMPUTER director for C4/WGBH (1988)
  • STRANGERS ABROAD 6x1hr director and series producer for C4 (1986)
  • THE ROAD TO ITANG directed by Andy Harries for C4/UNHCR [P] (1984)
  • A MAN WITHOUT A HORSE producer/director for BBC World About Us (1984)
  • THE LOST TRIBES producer/director for C4/UNHCR (1984)
  • THE CAMP ON LANTAU ISLAND producer/director for C4/UNHCR (1984)
  • LIVING WITH THE REVOLUTION*directed by Leslie Woodhead for ITV [SP/EP] (1983)
  • THE NEWEST REVOLUTION* directed by Leslie Woodhead for ITV [SP/EP] (1983)
  • THE KAZAKHS OF CHINA* producer/director for ITV (1983) [US version called THE HORSEMEN OF CHINA* (WGBH Boston) (1986)]
  • ASANTE MARKET WOMEN* directed by Claudia Milne  for ITV  [SP/EP] (1982)
  • THE KWEGU* produced and directed by Leslie Woodhead for ITV [SP/EP](1982)
  • WITCHCRAFT AMONG THE AZANDE* directed for ITV (1982)
  • CARNIVAL* directed by Carlos Pasini for ITV [P] 1982
  • AFGHAN EXODUS* produced and directed for ITV (1980)
  • THE PATHANS*  produced and directed for ITV (1979)
  • KHYBER* produced and directed for ITV  (1979)
  • BLACK MAN’S BURDEN produced for ITV (1975)
  • THE KIRGHIZ OF AFGHANISTAN* directed by Charlie Nairn for ITV [R/A] (1975)
  • THE SHILLUK* directed by Chris Curling for ITV [R/A] (1975)
  • THE MURSI *directed by Leslie Woodhead for ITV [R] (1974)
  • THE DERVISHES OF KURDISTAN* directed by Brian Moser for ITV [R/A] (1973)

(These films garnered awards from BAFTA (Best Series); International Film and Television Festival, New York – two silver and one bronze medals; Grand Prix de Festival at Festival Internationale du Film Reportage, Luchon; 1st Blue Ribbon Award at American Film Festival)


  • A TOUCH OF GENIUS : The Life, Work and Influence of Sir Edward Evans-Pritchard (Editor) Sean Kingston Press, London 2021
  • STAIRWAY TO HEAVEN: The Minbar of Salah al-Din (contributor) Edited by Lynette Singer Thames and Hudson 2008
  • DIVINE MAGIC: The Story of the Supernatural (co-author with Lynette Singer) Boxtree 1996
  • THE SILK AND SPICE ROUTES [Principal Consultant] Belitha Press 1993
  • DISAPPEARING WORLD: TV and Anthropology -Boxtree (with Leslie Woodhead) 1988
  • LORDS OF THE KHYBER Faber & Faber 1984
  • A HISTORY OF ANTHROPOLOGICAL THOUGHT by E.E. Evans-Pritchard (ED) Faber & Faber 1981
  • ATLAS OF MAN (Principal Consultant) Marshall Cavendish 1978
  • CENTRAL AND WESTERN ASIA : Vol XV of 'Peoples of the Earth' (Editor) Danbury 1973
  • ZANDE THEMES (Joint Editor with Brian Street) Blackwells 1972

  • 2018 ‘Ethnographic Film’ in International Encyclopaedia of Anthropology, Ed H.Callan,.
  • 2017 Vernacular Architecture and Anthropology’  in Habitat, Ed Sandra Pleisek, Thames and Hudson.
  • 2015 ‘Anthropology, Genocide and Imagery’; Presidential Inaugural Lecture,Bristol.
  • 2015 ‘Assembling Night Will Fall: The Director’s Perspective’ in The Holocaust in History and Memory, Vol 7.
  • 2015 ‘Identity’ in God, Faith and Identity from the Ashes, Ed Menachem Rosensaft, Jewish Lights Press.
  • 2008 ‘The art of visual anthropology : an interview with Gail Thakur’ Anthropology                                Today,vol 24
  • 1998 Strange Bedfellows: The Feature Documentary, Television and Anthropology' in THE SEARCH FOR REALITY; THE ART OF DOCUMENTARY FILMMAKING edited by Michael Tobias, MW Productions, California.
  • 1992 'Anthropology and Broadcasting', in FILM AS ETHNOGRAPHY (Eds Crawford and Turton) Manchester University Press
  • 1992 (with S Seidenberg) "Televising Culture" Visual Anthropology Review Vol8
  • 1991 Introductory chapter to NOMADS, Collins & Brown for Channel Four
  • 1989'Contemporary Khanates: Compromises Adopted by Kazakh and Kirghiz Leaders' in ECOLOGY and EMPIRE, Edited by Gary Seaman, Ethnographics Press.
  • 1989 'Treasure of the Eurasian Steppes' ARCHAEOLOGY MAGAZINE
  • 1988 'The Nobel Prize in Literature: the work of Naguib Mahfouz' -NOBEL PRIZE ANNUAL
  • 1987 'Time Space and Ecology in Eastern Iran, The Timuri of Khurasan' THE DIVERSITY OF THE MUSLIM COMMUNITY, Ed. Ahmed al Shahi, Ithica Press.
  • 1986 'Choices and Constraints in Filming in Central Asia' in ANTHROPOLOGICAL FILM-MAKING J Rollwagen, Ed.
  • 1983 'The Human Tribe' NEW INTERNATIONALIST, No 199.
  • 1983 'The Ethnogenesis of the Timuri of Khurasan' JOURNAL OF THE SOCIETY OF AFGHAN STUDIES, vol. III.
  • 1982 'Conflicts and Compromises in Ethnographic Film-making' THE SOCIAL SCIENCE TEACHER vol XI no 3.
  • 1982 'Film and Anthropology in Britain' R.A.I.N. vo150.
  • 1982 Guest Editor of R.A.I.N. Vo150 on ANTHROPOLOGY AND FILM.
  • 1977 'Time and Ecological Calendar of the Timuri' 1st International Symposium on Popular Traditions in Iran, Isfahan.
  • 1976 'Ethnic Identity in Eastern Iran' D Phil, thesis, Oxford University.
  • 1976 'Problems of Pastoralism in the Afghan Pamirs' ASIAN AFFAIRS, Vo163, part 11.
  • 1975 'The Politics of Pastoralism in Eastern Iran' Cambridge Symposium on the FUTURE OF TRADITIONAL PRIMITIVE SOCIETIES.
  • 1974 'Dervishes', 'Chahar Aimaq', 'Afghans', 'Hunza' FAMILY OF MAN –Marshall Cavendish.
  • 1974 'Sir Edward Evans-Pritchard' an obituary in AFRICAN RESEARCH PAPERS.
  • 1973 'Chahar Aimaq' and 'Dervishes', for CENTRAL AND WESTERN ASIA Danbury.
  • 1973 'Tribal Migrations on the Irano-Afghan Border' ASIAN AFFAIRS No 60.
  • 1973 'Nomadism and Social Change in Iran and Afghanistan', UNESCO Symposium on NOMADISM IN CENTRAL ASIA, Ulan Bator.
  • 1973 'Perspective on Pastoralism' Review Article J.A.S.O. vol14 No 1.
  • 1972 Ethnography and the Ecosystem an Azande Example' in ZANDE THEMES - Blackwell.
  • 1972 'The Jamshidi of Khurasan' IRAN Vol X.
  • 1972 'Some Problems of Adaptive Nomadic Pastoralism in Western Iran' B Litt, Oxford. 


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