UCL Anthropology


Previous Seminars

Medical Anthropology Seminars 2020-21

Autumn 2020

1 October – no seminar (induction week)

8 October – Dr Vanessa Grotti, University of Bologna
Hosting the Dead: Forensics, Ritual and the Memorialisation of Migrant Human Remains in Italy (1997-2019)

15 October – Dr Carlo Caduff, Kings College London
What Went Wrong: Corona and the World after the Full Stop

22 October – Dr Emily Ng, University of Amsterdam
Diagnosis and the End(s) of the World: Psychiatry and Mediumship in Contemporary China

29 October – Prof Rebecca Lester, Washington University in St. Louis
Fixing Time: Chronicity, Recovery, and Trajectories of Care at Cedar Grove

5 November – Prof Janelle Taylor, University of Toronto
Friendship, Citizenship, and Abandonment: Older Adults with Dementia without Family Caregivers

12 November – no seminar (reading week)

For further information, please contact Jo Cook: joanna.cook@ucl.ac.uk

Spring 2021

January 21 - Prof. Janet Carsten (University of Edinburgh)
Blood Work in Penang

January 28 - Dr Amy Moran-Thomas (MIT)
One Hundred Years of Insulin for Some

February 4 - Dr Neely Myers (Southern Methodist University)
Moral Agency, Moral Experiments and Mental Health Recovery after a First-Episode of Psychosis

February 11 - Dr Scott Stonington (University of Michigan)
Karma Masters: Expanding Ethics to Account for Complex Personhood?

Reading Week - No Seminar

February 25 - Prof. Annemarie Mol (University of Amsterdam)
Not quite clean: Trailing schoon and its resonances

March 4 - Dr Talia Dan-Cohen (Washington University in St Louis)
A Simpler Life: Synthetic Biological Experiments

March 11 - Dr Sara Lewis (Naropa University)
Resilience and the Ethics of “Big Mind” Thinking in the Tibetan Diaspora

March 18 - Dr Alex Nading (Cornell University)
Patience, Health Activism, and Meeting Time

Reading Week - No Seminar

For further information, please contact joanna.cook@ucl.ac.uk

Medical Anthropology Seminars 2019-20

Autumn 2019

3 October - Aaron Parkhurst (UCL Anthropology)
Towards an Anthropology of Gravity: Emotion and Embodiment in Microgravity environments

[Cancelled] 10 October - Henry Llewellyn (UCL Psychiatry)
Changing tumours: Personalised immunotherapies and therapeutic value in cancer tissues

17 October - Caroline Ackley (University of Sussex, BSMS Medicine)
The body in crisis: Post-mortem tissue sampling in children under-5 in Kersa District, Ethiopia

24 October - Des Fitzgerald (Cardiff University, Sociology)
Psychic Life in the Green Metropolis: Rethinking Nature, Mental Health and the City

31 October - Istvan Praet (Roehampton, Life Sciences – Anthropology)
Of Extremophiles, Astronauts and Planetoid Beings. Between Astrobiology and Anthropology

7 November - Reading Week - No Seminar

For further information please contact Sahra Gibbon s.gibbon@ucl.ac.uk or Aaron Parkhurst  a.parkhurst@ucl.ac.uk

Spring 2020

January 16 - Roland Littlewood (University College London)
Divination, Detection, Diagnosis

January 23 - Esther Eidinow (University of Bristol)
Divination, Detection and Diagnosis in Ancient Greek Culture

January 30 - Athar Yawar (University College London)
Divination, diagnosis, and the inspired intellect among Naqshbandi Sufis

February 6 - Patrick Awondo, Marilia Duque, Laura Haapio-Kirk, Charlotte Hawkins, Daniel Miller, Shireen Walton, Xinyuan Wang (University College London)
mHealth: An Alternative Vision

February 13 - Maurice Lipsedge (KCL) and Terry McGuinness (Faculty of Laws, UCL)
Delirium, Death and Diagnosis

Reading Week - No Seminar

February 27 - Noemi Cassin (UCL)
Ascertaining Chronic Pain: The Instance of Fibromyalgia

[Cancelled due to UCU strike action] March 5 - Elizabeth Hsu (University of Oxford)
On the interface of divinatory and diagnostic skills in Chinese medicine

[Cancelled due to UCU strike action] March 12 - Andrew Walker (Psychotherapist and independent scholar)
Judicious science: research, evidence and remedies in law and psychotherapy

[Cancelled] March 19 - Quinton Deeley (KCL)
Divinatory possession: from ancient Greece to contemporary London

For further information, please contact j.calabrese@ucl.ac.uk

Medical Anthropology Seminars 2018-19

Spring 2019

10 January – Roland Littlewood (University College London)
The Problem of Healing for a Hylozoic Cult

17 January – Piers Vitebsky (University of Cambridge)
Living without the Dead: The Discovery of Sin

24 January – [NO SEMINAR]

31 January – Joseph Calabrese (University College London)
Psychopharmacological Purity Doctrines and the Inertia of Cruelty

7 February – Dana Walrath
Graphic Medicine and Making Medical Anthropology Public

14 February – Reading Week – no seminar

21 February – Simon Dein (Queen Mary/Goldsmiths)
The Abominations of Leviticus Revisited: Judaism and Pollution

28 February – Quinton Deeley (Kings College London)
The Power of Taboo: Anthropological and Neurocognitive Perspectives

7 March – Rebecca Lynch and Simon Cohn (LSHTM)
Leaky Bodies and Matter Out of Place

14 March – Ellie Reynolds (Kings College London)
Sacred and Profane: sex, energy and pollution in the dissolution of a North American religion-therapeutic movement

For further information please contact j.calabrese@ucl.ac.uk

Autumn 2018

4 October - No seminar this evening but please note Radcliffe Brown Lecture in Social Anthropology given by Susan McKinnon at 6.30pm on Cousin Marriage, Hierarchy and Heredity at British Academy, 10-11 Carlton House Terrace – registration required

11 October - Elizabeth F.S Roberts (University of Michigan)
Bioethnography, A Method of Excess: A Case Study in Validity, Memory, and Menopause in Mexico City

18 October - Michelle Pentecost (King’s College London)
Ordinary Spaces: global health, clinical trials and the everyday in South Africa

25 October - Megan Vaughan (IAS, UCL)
Conceptualising Metabolic Disorder in Southern Africa

Cancelled: 1 November - Janelle Lamoreaux (University of Arizona)
Epigenetic Ecologies: the temporality and relationality of germ cells

8 November - Reading Week - No Seminar

Enquiries to Sahra Gibbon s.gibbon@ucl.ac.uk

Medical Anthropology Seminars 2017-18

Spring 2018

11 January - No seminar

18 January - Marisa Mika (Institute of Advanced Study UCL)
Invisible Harms and Toxic Drugs on an African Cancer Ward 

Cancelled: 25 January - Tine Gammeltoft (University of Copenhagen)
Spectral kinship: Domestic violence and everyday endurance in northern Vietnam 

1 February - Ayo Wahlberg (University of Copenhagen)
Tracking Failing Biologies

8 February - Catherine Trundle (Victoria University, Wellington, New Zealand)
Nuclear Half Lives: Rethinking the anthropology of proof

15 February - Reading Week - No seminar

Cancelled due to UCU strike: 22 February - Michelle Pentecost (King's College London)
Governing the dyad: epigenetics and global health in South Africa

1 March - Elizabeth Hsu (University of Oxford)
The Song Chinese 'contagious corpse dis-ease': an inquiry which combines sensory and linguistic anthropology with ethnobiology

8 March - No seminar

15 March - Jeanette Edwards (University of Manchester)
Provincialising the clitoris: cosmetic surgery, beauty and ethics

20 March (reading week) - Tanya Luhrmann (Stanford University, USA)
Is the shaman schizophrenic, after all? How religious practice may change psychotic experience

Enquiries to Jo Cook Joanna.cook@ucl.ac.uk or Sahra Gibbon s.gibbon@ucl.ac.uk

Autumn 2017

5 October - Roland Littlewood (UCL)
Filth as Faith: The Story of Antinomian Pollution

12 OctoberSjaak van der Geest (University of Amsterdam)
Three Achievements of Dirt: Disgust, Humour, Emphasis

19 October - Andre Singer (Royal Anthropological Institute)
Where the Wind Blew: the legacy of radiation in Nevada and Kazakhstan

26 October - Diana Varaden (King's College London)
Making the invisible visible: Monitoring air pollution in contemporary London

6-10 November - Reading Week - No Seminar

Enquiries to Joe Calabrese j.calabrese@ucl.ac.uk or Roland Littlewood r.littlewood@ucl.ac.uk

Medical Anthropology Seminars 2016-17

Spring 2017 

19 January Yusuf Sheik Omar (University of Melbourne)
"Sane or Insane?": How do Muslim men from the Horn of Africa understand emotional wellbeing and get access to culturally appropriate care in Melbourne, Australia?

26 January Rebecca Lynch (London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine)
New magic: Risk, modernity and the Devil in a Trinidadian village

2 February Dalia Iskander (UCL)
Malaria as unconscious strategy. Why policy-makers, professionals and patients "do" malaria differently

9 February Arseli Dokumaci Vincent (University of Copenhagen)
Vital affordances, occupying niches: Disability and Everyday Practices

16 February Reading Week - no seminar

23 February Jed Stevenson (UCL)
"Do our bodies know their ways?" Villagization, food insecurity, and ill-being in Ethiopia's Lower Omo Valley

2 March Bryony Jones (Royal Veterinary College)
Sheep and goat production and health in the Afar Region of Ethiopia

9 March Sloan Mahone (Oxford)
Revisiting the psychology of Mau Mau: A photographer's study of trauma in late colonial Kenya


23 March James Fairhead (University of Sussex)
Understanding social resistance to Ebola response in the Forest Region of the Republic of Guinea: An anthropological perspective

For further information please contact a.parkhurst@ucl.ac.uk or e.stevenson@ucl.ac.uk

Autumn 2016

6 October - Roland Littlewood (UCL)
Conversion, wellbeing, but no metaphysics: The Dalit move toward Christianity

13 October - Joseph Calabrese (UCL)
Culturally-embedded therapeutic emplotment: The blessing and curse of the therapeutic process at the heart of cultural meaning

20 October - Erminia Colucci (Queen Mary University of London)
Breaking the chains': A visual anthropology project on practices of restraints and confinement of people with mental illness in Indonesia

27 October - Elisabeth Hsu (University of Oxford)
History in the body: A critical reading of two related sets of Chinese martial arts techniques

3 November - Sajida Ally (University of Sussex)
"Wellness (Suham)": A framework for understanding transnational Sri Lankan Muslim women's health and wellbeing

7-11 November - Reading Week - No Seminar

17 November - Quinton Deeley (Kings College London)
Neuroanthropology: Exploring relations between mind, brain, and culture

24 November - Gloria Duravila (UCL/Surrey and Borders Mental Health Trust)
The attribution of religious meaning to suffering in Spanish nuns, monks, priests and lay theological students: The Dark Night of the Soul as an antidote to the medicalisation of normal deep sadness

1 December - Michael Weiss (University of Vienna)
Performing non-dualistic understanding: Convergences towards Japanese Butō dance

8 December - Alfredo Ancora (Department of Mental Health, Rome, Italy)
De Martino and 'tarantism' in Southern Italy

Enquiries to Joe Calabrese j.calabrese@ucl.ac.uk or Roland Littlewood r.littlewood@ucl.ac.uk

Medical Anthropology Seminars 2015-16

Spring 2016

21 January - Mohammed RASHED (Institute of Advanced Studies, UCL)
Mad Pride, Mad Culture and the Demand for Recognition: Difficulties in Responding to Current Socio-political Movements

28 January - Joanna COOK (Department of Anthropology, UCL)
Happy Neoliberals? Mindfulness and Governance in Westminster

4 February - Charlotte FAIRCLOTH (University of Roehampton)
Militant Lactivism? Ethnographic perspectives on long-term breastfeeding and attachment parenting (TBD)

11 February - Jason DANELY (Department of Social Sciences, Oxford Brookes)
Wounded worlds: Violence and the making of compassionate subjectivities in Japanese eldercare

18 February - Reading Week - no seminar

25 February - Ben KASSTAN (Durham)
Health cultures and conducts in a Haredi Jewish minority: A historical and ethnographic study of a 'hard to reach' group.

3 March - Jennie GAMLIN (Institute of Global Health, UCL)
Ethnographic accounts, public health in practice and critical theory in Latin American medical anthropology

10 March - Autumn FIESTER (Department of Medical Ethics and Health Policy, University of Pennsylvania)
The Reigning Framework in US Clinical Ethics Decision-Making and Why We Should Rethink It

17 March - Jacob COPEMAN (University of Edinburgh)
Biological Relatedness and Partonomic Philanthropy: Activism as Philanthropy in North India

For further information please contact Aaron Parkhurst a.parkhurst@ucl.ac.uk or Joanna Cook joanna.cook@ucl.ac.uk

Autumn 2015

15 October - Roland Littlewood (UCL)
Projection - A Mental Mechanism Shared by Psychopathology and Anthropology: A Religious Instance

22 October - Daniele Stolfi (UCL)
Reconstituting Native American Identities in Utah: The Role of the Intermountain Indian School in Brigham City

29 October - Iain Edgar (Durham University)
The Human Dreamtime and its Anthropological Narrative and Impact

5 November - Claudia Merli (Durham University)
Forensic Identification and Identity Politics in 2004 Post-tsunami Thailand: Moral Landscapes and Negotiation of (Geo) political Boundaries

Enquiries to Roland Littlewood (r.littlewood@ucl.ac.uk) and Joe Calabrese (j.calabrese@ucl.ac.uk)

Medical Anthropology Seminars 2014-15

Spring 2015

15 January at UCL Paul Brodwin (University of Wisconsin)
Gesture of Care: An  Ethnography of Mental Health Reform

22 January at LSHTM Ben Belek (University of Cambridge)
Emotion talk and autism self-advocacy

29 January at LSHTM Paul Richards (Wagenigen University)
The end of Ebola? New evidence from rural Sierra Leone

5 February at UCL Susan Phillips (Pitzer College, California)
The Anatomy of Vengeance: Forensic Evidence, Storytelling, and Gang Collective Violence

12 February at LSHTM Hannah Kienzler (Kings College London)
Global Mental Health in War and Post War Contexts: Negotiating Mental Health System Reforms in Kosovo and Palestine


26 February at UCL Ciara Kierans (University of Liverpool)
Bodies in Motion: Ambivalent Technologies and the Politics of Organ Transplantation in Mexico

5 March at LSHTM Heidi Larsen (LSHTM)
The anthropology of Rumours: Why rumours matter to public health

12 March at LSHTM Tim Allen (LSE)
Life Beyond the Bubbles: Cognitive Dissonance and Humanitarian Impunity in Northern Uganda

19 March at UCL Christos Lynteris (University of Cambridge)
The Visible Invisible: Plague Photography and the Optical Unconscious

For further information please contact s.gibbon@ucl.ac.uk or simon.cohn@lshtm.ac.uk.

Autumn 2014

9 October: Roland Littlewood (UCL)
The Advent of the Adversary: Oppositional Powers in Religio-Therapeutic Systems

16 October: Sahra Gibbon (UCL)
The 'Less than Many' Local Biologies of Brazilian Cancer Genetics

23 October: Carlo Caduff (Kings College)
The Right Prescription

30 October: Charles Stewart (UCL)
Colonizing the Greek Mind?  The Advent of Western Psychotherapeutics in Greece

Enquiries to Roland Littlewood (r.littlewood@ucl.ac.uk) and David Napier (d.napier@ucl.ac.uk)

Medical Anthropology Seminars 2013-14

Spring 2014

16 January: David Napier (UCL)
Betrayal and its Modern Consequences

23 January: Joseph Calabrese (UCL)
Kinship, Personhood and Life Course in the Native American Church

30 January: Tyler Phan (UCL)
Sowa Rigpa (G.so ba rig pa) in Transition: A Survey in Contemporary Medical Epistemologies of Tibetan Medicine

Cancelled due to strikes - 6 February: Maryon McDonald (Cambridge)
On the merits and difficulties of detachment

13 February: Jonah Rimer (Oxford)
Anthropological Insights into Internet Sexual Offending

20 February: Reading Week (no seminar)

27 February: Melissa Parker (LSHTM)
The politics and anti-politics of neglected tropical diseases

6 March: Seonsam Na (Oxford)
An Ethnography of a 'Revolution' in the Korean Medicine Community

13 March: Simon Cohn (LSHTM)
Making Up Bodies and Populations: Research within the UK Blood Service

20 March: Samuel Leze (Ecole Normale Supérieure de Lyon)
An anthropology of psychoanalysts in France.


Anthropological Perspectives on Clinical Authority

Friday 21st March 4-7pm in Roberts 106 (building location)


  • Maryon McDonald (Cambridge)On the merits and difficulties of detachment
  • Samuel Leze (Ecole Normale Supérieure de Lyon)Clinical authority today: a multi-sited ethnography of mental health institutions in France

Enquiries to: Joseph Calabrese (j.calabrese@ucl.ac.uk)

Autumn 2013

10 October: Roland Littlewood and Ellie Reynolds (UCL)
Embodiment of an Empty Signifier

17 October: James Davies (Roehampton University)
The DSM: A Great Work of Fiction

24 October: Melissa Parker (Brunel University)
The Politics and Anti-Politics of Controlling Neglected Tropical Diseases
Cancelled - replaced by Joe Calabrese's short talk "Culturally-Embedded Therapeutic Emplotment and the Psychoactive Nature of Cultural Ontologies".

31 October: Sophie Day (Goldsmiths College)
When Waiting is a Form of Caring: Reflections on the NHS


14 November: Maryon McDonald (Cambridge University)
On the merits and difficulties of detachment

21 November: Michael Poltorak (University of Kent)
From 'Evil Spirits' to 'Brain Diseases': Shifting Agency, Humour and a Tongan Public Psychiatry

28 November: Del Loewenthal (Roehampton University)
Post-Existentialism: Towards a Therapy without Boundaries

5 December: Peter Steggals (Hull University)
Making Sense of Self-harm: Negotiating Ambivalence in the Performance of the Transgressive Body

Enquiries to Roland Littlewood (r.littlewood@ucl.ac.uk)

Medical Anthropology Seminars 2012-13

Spring 2013

9 January: Mark Mosko (Australian National University)
Omarakana Revisited; Or, 'Do Dual Organizations Exist?' in the Trobriands

16 January: Catalina Tesar (UCL)
Body, Gender and Personhood among Cortorari Gypsies

23 January: Vera Skvirskaja (University of Copenhagen)
Man the Hoarder: In the realm of the flea marketers

30 January: Ramon Sarro (University of Oxford)
The Invention of Writing: Madness, healing and imagination

6 February: James Staples (Brunel)
Personhood, Agency and Suicide in Contemporary South India


20 February: Alex Cohen (LSHTM)
A Skeptical Look at an Old Assumption: A better prognosis for schizophrenia in developing countries?

27 February: Maja Petrovic-Steger (University of Cambridge/University of Ljubljana)
Title to be confirmed

6 March: Ann Kelly (University of Exeter)
Detinova on Safari: Remembering a Soviet method in a Tanzanian laboratory

13 March: Rane Willerslev (Museum of Cultural History, University of Oslo, Norway)
Rebirth and the Deathdrive: Reconsidering Freud's 'Mourning and Melancolia' through a Siberian time perspectiv

Enquiries to: Joseph Calabrese (j.calabrese@ucl.ac.uk)

Autumn 2012

4 October - Roland Littlewood (UCL)
The Ambiguity of Amulets: Bangladeshi responses to Illness and Misfortune

11 October - Eirini Kampriani (UCL)
Genetic Counselling in a Greek Orthodox Convent

18 October - Katayoun Medhat (UCL)
The Iron Cage versus the Stahlhartes Gehause: An Exploration of Bureaucratic Process in an (Amer)indian Health Service Clinic

25 October - Aaron Parkhurst (UCL)
Shifting scales and becoming Cyborgian: Procrastinating the singularity!

1 November - Maya Unmithan (Sussex University)
Global Rights and State Activism: Reflections on Civil Society/State Partnerships in Health in North-West India

8 November - Reading Week - No Seminar

15 November - Joseph Calabrese (UCL)
Embedded Clinical Ethnography in Bhutan

22 November - Ursula Read (UCL)
Prayer Camps as Responses to Severe Mental Illness in Ghana

29 November - Rebecca Lynch (UCL)
Agency and Spirit Oppression in rural Trinidad

6 December - Emilie Medeiros (UCL)
The Indigenous Psychologies of Maoist Child Soldiers in Nepal

Enquiries to Roland Littleword r.littlewood@ucl.ac.uk

Medical Anthropology Seminars 2011-12

Spring 2012

19 January - Yasunobu Ito (UCL/Japan Advanced Institute of Science and Technology)
Ingenuity Sub Rosa: Medical information, technology and work practice in a Japanese hospital

26 January - Sjaak van de Geest (University of Amsterdam)
Feces, faces and contexts

2 February - Anne Fox (Imperial College London/Galahad SMS)
Homo Ebrius: The origins of drunkenness

9 February - Mona Schrempf (Humboldt University of Berlin)
The spider and the soul: Spirit matters in the Eastern Himalayas

16 February - Reading week - No seminar

23 February - Gloria Durà-Vilà (UCL/ Surrey and Borders Partnership NHS)
Integration of sexual trauma in a religious narrative: Transformation, resolution and growth among contemplative nuns

1 March - David Napier (University College London)
Bodies and boundaries in the life sciences

8 March - Alison Macdonald (University College London)
Breast cancer survivorship among middle-class women in charitable organisations in urban India

15 March - Richard Rechtman (l'École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales)
An introduction to the political anthropology of trauma

Inquiries to Joseph Calabrese (j.calabrese@ucl.ac.uk)

Autumn 2011

6 October - Roland Littlewood (University College London)
'Islamic Fatalism' and the Bengali Response to Illness

13 October - Aaron Parkhurst (University College London)
Genes and Djinni in the Arabian Gulf: 'Islamic Fatalism' in Everyday Life

20 October - Joe Calabrese (Oxford U.and University College London)
Initial Reflections on Clinical Ethnographic Fieldwork in Bhutan

27 October - Simon Dein (Durham U. and University College London)
Jewish Guilt: an Anthropological Approach

3 November - Ellie Reynolds (University College London)
Embodied Forms of Control: Substance and Energy in an Orgasmic Cult

10 November - Reading Week - No Seminar

17 November - Francesca Zanatta (University College London)
"You Negroes in Jamaica Pray Too Much": The Role of Religion in Shaping Child Identity in Jamaica

24 November - Mohammad Rashed (University College London)
Meaning, Distress and Psychosis in the Western Desert of Egypt

1 December - Anne Fox (Imperial College London)
The Military Horde and the Hunting Hypothesis [Provisional Title]

8 December - David Orr (Sussex University)
Andean Idioms of Madness: Sociality, Poverty and the Person among Quechua-speaking peasants in Peru

15 December - Brian Anderson (Stamford University)
Psychiatric Ontologies of Ayahuasca: Psychosis or Spiritual Cure?

Please send all enquiries to r.littlewood@ucl.ac.uk

Medical Anthropology Seminars 2010-11


7 October Roland Littlewood (University College London)
The 'Seligman Error' and the Origins of Schizophrenia

14 October Sharon Kaufman (University of California at San Francisco)
Making Longevity in an Aging Society: Linking Technology, Policy, Ethics

21 October Sahra Gibbon (University College London)
Cancer Genetics, Ancestry and Miscigenação in Southern Brazil; Constituting Populations and Clinical Need

28 October Jennifer Randall (University College London)
The Hope of Anthropology: An Anthropology of Hope

4 November Rodney Reynolds (University College London)
Panama's Black Christ: Spreading the Gospel of the Miracle Cure

11 November READING WEEK - no seminar

18 November Katia Fabrii (University College London)
The Doctor and the Anthropologist: Reflections on Teaching and Practice

25 November Khaldoon Ahmed (University College London)
Narratives of Psychosis in British Bangladeshis

2 December David Napier (University College London)
Non-self Help: Immunology as Philosophical Inquiry

9 December Paul Clough (University of Malta)
Neo-liberal Thinking and New Accounts of Cell Theory: A Response to David Napier

Week 12 READING WEEK - no seminar

Enquiries to:

David Napier
Department of Anthropology UCL
Gower Street
London WC1E 6BT

Tel: +44 20 7679 8647
Fax: +44 20 7679 8632
Email: d.napier@ucl.ac.uk