I studied Social Anthropology at Edinburgh (MA) and then at Durham (PhD). I came to Newcastle in 1988 (initially for three years in CURDS), before I was appointed as a lecturer in social anthropology in what was then the Department of Social Policy in 1991. Before coming to Newcastle University, I was a research associate at Bristol University in the Department of Social Policy, working with Professor Peter Townsend on two health inequalities projects (1983-87) in NE England.
My doctoral research was in north India, where I did fieldwork in Kangra (Himachal Pradesh). India has remained a major interest of mine ever since (teaching, PhD supervision, and research). The Middle East has become the main focus of my research in recent years, however, through two research projects concerning public health and health systems. Most of my writing has been either in the health field (health inequalities, health and industrial pollution, the social and policy implications of chronic diseases, mHealth) or in the field of environmental politics and industrial risk.
I have major responsibilities for two EU-FP7 research projects in the Middle East (see Research).
I currently represent Newcastle University in the Public Health Foundation of India - UK Consortium, funded by the Wellcome Trust (with Dr Shahaduz Zaman).
MA in Social Anthropology, University of Edinburgh, 1973
PhD in Social Anthropology, University of Durham, 1982
Head of Sociology/ Deputy Head of School, 2005-9.
Associate Director, Institute of Health and Society, 2006-8.
Fellow of Royal Anthropological Institute (RAI)
Member of European Association of Social Anthropologists (EASA)
1. Anthropology of health and medicine; inequalities in health; social implications of chronic illness; health systems in developing countries.
2. Anthropology of the environment; environment and risk politics.
4. Eastern Mediterranean/ Middle East.
I am currently working on four research projects/ programmes, all with a public health focus.
1. MedCHAMPS (2009-13). Co-Investigator, Acting PI during 2010-11 and part of 2012. A 4 year EU-funded FP7 project investigating (a) epidemiological trends in chronic heart disease and diabetes, and (b) the health systems for managing the rise in such chronic diseases, in four Mediterranean countries (Palestine, Syria, Tunisia & Turkey). This research brings together teams in seven universities/institutes. In this research I work closely with my colleague Dr Shahaduz Zaman (a medical anthropologist in IHS). For the project website see: research.ncl.ac.uk/medchamps/ .
2. RESCAP-MED (2012-14). Principal Investigator. This is a 3 year EU-FP7 award funded under the EU’s Coordination and Support Action programme. It is a research capacity building project, focused on several disciplines relevant to public health. This research builds directly on MedCHAMPS (above). It involves the same partners, with the addition of new partners in Lebanon, Jordan and the WHO Cairo office; and like MedCHAMPS it focuses on non-communicable diseases. Website http://research.ncl.ac.uk/rescap-med/
3. TRUMP (2012-14). Co-Investigator. This is a 3 year project funded by EPSRC, under the ‘Bridging the Urban Rural Divide Programme’. It is a joint UK-India project, with Indian partners funded by the Department of Science & Technology of the Government of India. Its aim is to pilot the development of mobile phone technology for use in supporting and managing chronic ill-health in a range of rural areas, taking two conditions: diabetes and depression. The UK team is led by Aberdeen University, with partners in four other UK universities; the Indian team is led by the Indian Institute of Management in Ahmedabad. My own contribution, with our RA Dr Papreen Nahar, involves particular collaboration with the All India Institute of Medical Sciences in Delhi. For the project website see: http://dtp-113.sncs.abdn.ac.uk/
4. Public Health Foundation of India – UK Universities Consortium (2009-13). This 5 year programme in research capacity building in public health in India is funded by the Wellcome Trust. It is one of the biggest capacity building programmes in the world in public health, and brings together around 15 UK universities within the consortium, which is led by the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine. I represent Newcastle University on this consortium (along with my colleague Dr Shahaduz Zaman), and have been the co-chair of the Research Committee in 2011-12. For the consortium website see: http://wtp-india-ukc.org/
Earlier work in environmental politics is currently on the back burner, though I aim for further publication from research (2001-3) funded by the ESRC and Anglo-German Foundation on cultural understandings of risk in large-scale chemical and petro-chemical towns in Germany (Ludwigshafen) and the UK (Grangemouth). Four papers from this work have been published, with two more being written. I have also returned briefly to my earlier work on health inequalities, to edit the section on health inequalities and health policy in 'The Peter Townsend Reader' and write a commentary on the selected writings (Policy Press 2010).
I am currently co-supervising four PhDs. I have supervised ten PhDs to successful completion. Current PhD students are:
1. Jill Dales. Topic: Clinical consultations and physicians’ assumptions prior to first consultation, and implications for communication with patients. Co-supervised with Alison Steven (now UNN).
2. Benet Reid. Topic: Deconstructing evidence-based practice in physiotherapy. Co-supervised with Ruth Graham (Sociology).
3. Anu Vaittinen. Topic: Ethnography of mixed martial arts practitioners. Co-supervised with Cathrine Degnen and Monica Moreno-Figueroa (Sociology).
4. Arnab Ray Chaudhuri. Topic: Representing Islam, securitisation of Hinduism and re-articulation of Indian identity. Co-supervised with Kyle Grayson (Politics).
EPSRC 2012-14. (Co-Investigator) ‘A trusted mobile platform for the self-management of chronic illness in rural areas’ (TRUMP). UK partners led by Aberdeen University (Computing Science); Indian partners funded by Department of Science and Technology, Government of India, led by Indian Institute of Management Ahmedabad. £1.6 million.
EU-FP7 2012-14. (Principal Investigator) ‘Non-communicable diseases and their social determinants in Mediterranean partner countries: building sustainable research capacity for effective policy intervention’ (RESCAP-MED). Led by Newcastle University, with 11 partners (in UK, Ireland, Turkey, Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, Palestine, Tunisia, and WHO-EMRO). Euros 2.0 million.
EU-FP7 2009-13. (Co-Investigator, Acting PI 2010-11 & 2012) 'Mediterranean studies of cardiovascular disease and hyperglycaemia' (MEDCHAMPS) Seven Universities/Institutes led by Prof Julia Critchley (IHS, Newcastle University). Euros 2.6 million.
ESRC 2001-3. (Principal Investigator) 'Cultural undertandings of industrial risk in two chemical/ petrochemical towns'. (With Dr Suzanne Moffatt & Prof. Tanja Pless-Mulloli in IHS). £197,000.
Anglo-German Foundation for the Study of Industrial Society (AGF) 2001-3. (Principal Investigator). Linked to project above. £60,000.
SOC2058 Understanding Social Change and Transformation.
SOC2043 Anthropology of India.
SOC8045 Comparative perspectives in social and environmental change.