This Academic's Life

The snake-catching sociologist

Episode Summary

Life. Sociology. Snakes.

Episode Notes

Sociologist Associate Professor Gavin Smith’s day looks like that of most other academics. He delivers lectures, does research, answers emails. The afternoon is when his day departs from the norm. That’s when he’ll go off to handle a snake that someone has found in their laundry or backyard.

Here, Gavin talks about how he got into snake-catching, the connection he has with these feared and misunderstood creatures, and the snake-related sociological research he’s embarking on.

Associate Professor Gavin J.D. Smith is the Deputy Head of the ANU School of Sociology where he researches the complex nature of tracking cultures in health, penal, work and familial contexts. This project is founded on conceptual ideas he has published in his monograph *Opening the Black Box: The Work of Watching* (2015, Routledge) and in influential papers such as Surveillance, Data and Embodiment: On the Work of Being Watched and Data Doxa. A key focus of his work is the examination of how people differentially experience forms of surveillance: from the perspective of watching and being watched. In his spare time he is a licensed snake catcher and educator with ACT Snake Removals. He is turning this practice into an object of study where he will fuse herpetological and sociological insights to analyse human-snake encounters.

Follow Gavin on Twitter @gavin_jd_smith


The theme music for This Academic’s Life is “Snow Blower” by Flower Crown.

Other music used in this episode: “Fifteen Street” by Blue Dot Sessions.

This Academic’s Life is a production of the ANU College of Arts and Social Sciences. It’s produced by Evana Ho.

You can find us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram @ANUCASS.