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Susie Kilshaw


Principal Research Fellow

Background and Qualifications

Wenner Gren Hunt Postdoctoral Fellow 2008

ESRC Postdoctoral Research Fellow, UCL 2005

PhD Soocial Anthropology, UCL 2005

MSc Medical Anthropology, UCL 1998

General Interests:

  • Medical Anthropology
  • Qatar and the Middle East
  • Pregnancy and loss
  • Genetics and new medical technologies

My work focuses on emergent illnesses, post-combat illnesses, gender, pregnancy and loss. The thread running through my research is the impact of culture on illness beliefs and experiences, particularly in the UK and also in the Middle East. My PhD examined the emergence of a new and contested illness in the UK: Gulf War Syndrome (GWS). I explored the way the illness was influenced by the culture in which it developed. Gender is a particular interest of mine, and my book Impotent Warriors: Gulf War Syndrome, Vulnerability and Masculinity (Oxford: Berghahn, 2009) explored the way GWS is manifests itself as the experience of lost masculinity amongst sufferers.

This project led to my interest in the way in which some health anxieties or illnesses become the focus of public concern, while others are ignored. Since 2011 my research focus has developed to include the Middle East. I have been conducting research in Qatar where I explore issues around risk (including genetic risk); marriage practices; gender, reproduction and reproductive disruption, particularly miscarriage. Funded by the Qatar National Research Fund this research contributes to a more general ethnographic picture of Qatari social life.

Selected Publications

2015. Kilshaw, S., T. Al Raisi, F. Alshaban. Arranging marriage; negotiating risk: Genetics and society in Qatar. Anthropology & Medicine 22(1).

2014. Kilshaw, S. Paternity Poisoned: The impact of war syndromes on fatherhood. Inhorn, M. and W. Chavkin (eds.) Globalized Fatherhood: Emergent Forms and Possibilities in the New Millennium. (Oxford: Berghahn)

2014. Toxic soldiers: Chemicals and the bodies of soldiers. In Fleming, J. and A. Johnhson (eds). Toxic Airs: Chemical and Environmental Histories of the Atmosphere. (Pittsburg: University of Pittsburg Press)

2013. Kilshaw, S. Ethics in studying contested illness. In McClancy, J. (ed). Ethics in the Field. (Oxford: Berghahn).

2009. Kilshaw, S. Impotent Warriors: Gulf War Syndrome, Vulnerability and Masculinity (Oxford: Berghahn 2009).

2009. Kilshaw, S. Obligations to Veteran Informants: Contentious Research and Stakeholder Engagement. Anthropology News 50(5): 28-9.

2008. Kilshaw, S. Gulf War Syndrome: A reaction to psychiatry’s invasion of the military? Culture, Medicine and Psychiatry 32(2).

2007. Kilshaw, S. Toxic emissions: The role of semen in Gulf War Syndrome illness narratives. Anthropology and Medicine 14(3): 251-258

2007. Kilshaw, S. Is GWS about more than the Gulf War? An anthropological approach to the illness” In Lee, H. and Jones, E. (eds). War and Health: Lessons from the Gulf War. Chichester: John Wiley & Sons.

2006. Kilshaw, S. On being a Gulf veteran: an anthropological perspective. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B. 361 (1468): 697-706.

2004. Kilshaw, S. Friendly Fire: The Construction of Gulf War Syndrome Narratives. Anthropology and Medicine 11 (2): 149-160.

2004. Kilshaw, S. Gulf War Syndrome. Psychiatry 3 (8): 17-20.

Recent Book


“Medical dialogues are rarely solely about medical matters but serve as a proxy for feelings about the self and the way that an individual relates to others. Indeed, the inclusion of transcripts of interviews and discussions is of particular value…a brave book that challenges popular assumptions about Gulf War syndrome; her analysis of the long-term effects of military service will serve as an important record not only for those with an interest in the armed forces, but also for researchers in the field of illness perception.”  ·  The British Journal of Psychiatry

“This is an important anthropological study, which I believe is set to become a classic. The theoretical perspectives are clearly presented and applied to compelling ethnographic material. The publication of this manuscript will make it accessible to both undergraduate and graduate students of anthropology, as well as students of political science, sociology and military studies.”  ·  Vieda Skultans

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