UCL Anthropology


Biosocial Perspectives, Biosociality and Genetics


Key words

biology, identity, populations, citizenship, technology


Research Projects

  • Genetic Ancestry and Breast Cancer in Brazil
  • The communcation of genetic knowledge amongs families affected by genetic disorders in Qatar This project undertaken by Susie Kilshaw and funded by the Qatar Foundation explores the communication of genetic knowledge, primarily amongst families of those affected by genetic disorders in Qatar. Genetic disorders are particularly significant in the Gulf Region and the Middle East because of marriage among close relatives, which is a risk factor for genetic disorders. This project looks at the social impact of genetic discourse on those most affected by it and will provide a socially, culturally and historically grounded analysis of popular and professional genetic discourse in Qatar.


  • Genetic Admixture and Identity Workshop. In 2009 a three day event was held at UCL bringing together scholars from social, biological and medical sciences from Brazil, Uruguay, Argentina and the UK to examine the consequences and the application of new knowledge of human genetic variation for the concepts of identity, national, history and the practices of health and ethics. This resultes in the international and cross disciplinary publication Racial Identities, Genetic Ancestry and Health in South America published by Palgrave in 2011
  • Biosocialities, Health and Citizenship Reading Group a reading group started in January 2012, run by Alison Macdonald, Aaron Parkhurst and Sahra Gibbon that takes theoretically and empirically informed discussions of bioscociality as a starting point for critical engagement with the global expansion of a range of medical technologies and questions of citizenship.
  • Reproduction Reading group - started in January 2012 of graduate students and staff from various backgrounds who share an interest in the anthropology of human reproduction. The group aims to provide a forum for cross-disciplinary exchange between social, medical and evolutionary anthropology on topics such as variation in fertility rates, beliefs and attitudes regarding reproduction, maternal and child health, parenting behaviours, and related demographic and social phenomena. The group shares a commitment to communication across the traditional barriers dividing perspectives in anthropology with the aim of enriching the research and learning environment of group members.
  • BRCA network a cross disciplinary research network involving staff and postgraduate students from UCL and other institutions in Europe, US, Canada, Israel, Latin America commited to understanding the social and cultural contet of development associated with the discovery and application of the knowledge and technology linked to genetics and breast cancer. Past meetings of the BRCA network have taken place in Berlin, London and Geneva.

Teaching Activities

  • Genetics and Society course at Genetics Institute UCL (2005-2009)
  • GD20, ANTH 7020 Anthropology of Science, Society and Biomedicine

Selected Publications

  • Gibbon, S., Ventura-Santos, R. and Sans, M. (eds) 2011. Racial Identities, Genetic Ancestry and Health in South America: Argentina, Brazil, Colombia and Uruguay New York, Palgrave Macmillan
  • Gibbon, S., Joseph, G, Kalender, U. Kampriani, E., Mozersky, J., zur Nieden, A. and Palfner, S. (eds) 2010. Special Section: Perspectives on Globalizing Genomics: the case of 'BRCA' breast cancer research and medical practice in Journal of Biosocieties 5 407-414
  • Parkhurst, A. 2011. 'The Certain Scientist and the Uncertain Gene' Bionews Comment
  • Kampriani, E. 2009. 'Between Religious Philanthropy and Individualised Medicine: Situating Inherited Breast Cancer Risk in Greece' in Anthropology and Medicine Volume 16 Issue 2
  • Gibbon, S. and Novas, C (eds). 2008. Biosocialities, Identity and the Social Sciences London, Routledge