UCL Anthropology


Susie Kilshaw

Principal Research Fellow

Website: http://susiekilshaw.co.uk
Twitter: @susiekilshaw

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:

  • Anthropology of Reproduction
  • Medical Anthropology
  • UK, Qatar and the Middle East
  • Pregnancy and miscarriage
  • Genetics and new medical and reproductive technologies

My work focuses on emergent illnesses, gender, fertility, reproduction and loss; 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); exploring the way the illness was shaped by wider social and cultural forces. Gender is a particular interest of mine, and my book Impotent Warriors: Gulf War Syndrome, Vulnerability and Masculinity (Oxford: Berghahn, 2009) investigates the way GWS narratives involve expressions of diminished masculinity amongst sufferers. Sufferers expressed anxieties around fertility and reproduction and articulated concerns about damaged reproduction and parenthood. This work led to my ongoing interest in reproductive disruptions and ideas of reproduction and risk. 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. My work on miscarriage has included ethnographic research in Qatar and the UK.

Selected Publications

Gibbon, S. Kilshaw, S. and M. Sleeboom-Faulkner (in press) Genomics and Genetic Medicine: Pathways to Global Health? Introduction to special issue of Anthropology and Medicine

2018. Kilshaw, S. (available online 2017) Qatari Intersections with Global Genetics Research and Discourse. Anthropology and Medicine

2017. Kilshaw, S. Birds, meat, and babies: The multiple realities of foetuses in Qatar. Anthropology and Medicine 24(2): 189-204.

2017. Kilshaw, S. "How culture shapes perceptions of miscarriage". Sapiens.

2017. Kilshaw, S., Omar, N., Major, S., Mohsen, M.,  El Taher, F., Al Tamimi, H., Sole, K., and D. Miller Causal explanations of miscarriage amongst Qataris. BMC Pregnancy and Childbirth. 17(250): 1-12.

2016. Kilshaw, S., Miller, D. Al Tamimi, H., El-Taher, F., Mohsen, M., Omar, N., Major, S. and K. Sole. Calm vessels: Cultural expectations of Pregnant Women in Qatar. Anthropology of the Middle East 11(2): 39-59.

2015. Kilshaw, S., T. Al Raisi, F. Alshaban. Arranging marriage; negotiating risk: Genetics and society in Qatar. Anthropology & Medicine 22(1): 98-113.  DOI: 10.1080/13648470.2014.976542

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