Dr Cathrine Degnen
Senior Lecturer in Social Anthropology
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Telephone: +44 (0) 191 208 8467
- Address: Sociology
Claremont Bridge Building
Newcastle upon Tyne
Roles and responsibilities
January 2019-2020: On research leave
Autumn 2018, teaching SOC3077
2014-2017: Undergraduate Degree Programme Director, Sociology
2009-2012: MA Degree Programme Director, Sociology
2015-2019: Honorary Secretary and Executive Committee Member for the Association of Social Anthropologists of the UK and the Commonwealth (www.theasa.org)
2008-2011: Member, Faculty Promotions Committee, Newcastle University
2005-2008: Undergraduate Admissions Officer, Sociology
PhD in Anthropology, McGill University, Canada
MA in Medical Anthropology, McGill University, Canada
BA (Hons) in Anthropology and French, University of Connecticut, USA
Postgraduate Certificate in Academic Practice, Newcastle University
Year-long academic exchange program, Université Laval, Canada
2003–2005 Post-doctoral Research Fellow, Department of Social Anthropology, University of Manchester
1999–2003 Associate Lecturer, Faculty of Social Science, The Open University in Yorkshire
1994–99 Teaching Assistant, Department of Anthropology, McGill University
1997–98 Research Assistant, Department of Sociology, Concordia University
1993 Research Assistant, Département de la Santé Communautaire, Québec
Fellow, The Higher Education Academy (UK)
Fellow, The Royal Anthropological Institute
Member, Association of Social Anthropologists
Member, American Anthropological Association
Member, European Association of Social Anthropologists
Member, Society for Medical Anthropology
Honours and Awards
2012 Association of Social Anthropologists and the Higher Education Academy award for excellence in teaching anthropology
2002 Honourable Mention, Margaret Clark Essay Competition
1996 Dean's Honour List, MA thesis, McGill University
1994 Phi Beta Kappa Honour Society, University of Connecticut
1993-94 University Scholar, University of Connecticut (the most prestigious academic position that can be awarded to an undergraduate student)
1994 President’s Commission on the Status of Women and the Women’s Center Award for Outstanding Academic Achievement, University of Connecticut
1994 The Diane M. Greenfield Memorial Scholarship, University of Connecticut, Department of Anthropology
I am an anthropologist whose research is first and foremost concerned with how people create meaning and make sense of their social worlds in contexts of social transformation. I have built a significant body of work exploring this central interest in two key empirical areas: older age and everyday life, and the anthropology of Britain.
In my career to date, I have engaged with social transformation at multiple levels of scale, from the macro level of post-industrial rupture, to emergent shifts in social identity politics, to the development of new technologies (genetic and digital), to more micro levels of transformation, such as when our ageing bodies begin posing dilemmas for our sense of self and of personhood. As an anthropologist and ethnographer, all of my research is grounded in a fundamental commitment to the lives of the people I have worked with, and to what matters to them in their everyday experiences. By attending to these experiences and forms of meaning-making in a richly detailed and finely grained way, I have contributed via my publications to shaping debates in contemporary social theory on personhood and on self; on identity, belonging and social memory; and on the creative affordances of place.
My work on ageing challenges assumptions of later life in Western society, generally represented as a series of problems - medical, social, economic - to be solved. My research refocuses attention on the rich complexity and experiences of real people and their everyday lives as they age, highlighting the perspectives of older people themselves about what it is to grow older. This includes the importance of both social memory and of place for negotiating profound social transformation. It also includes developing a critique of an implicitly middle-aged, universalised self, one which does not allow for the distinctiveness and vitality of older age as lived that I argue demands recognition.
My new book, Cross-cultural Perspectives on Personhood and the Life Course (2018) builds on and extends some of my research interests about later life to explore the category of the person across the life course. In it, I explore the question "what does it mean to be a person?". I consider how answers to this question vary cross culturally as well as through the life course. Broader theoretical considerations that stem from these questions include anthropological concepts of relatedness (how people create and dismantle connections with each other and the world as they move through the life course) and ontology (ideas about states of being and existence, with reference to how these might shift through stages of life).
Other recent writing projects include the 2017 Sociological Review Monograph, Reconfiguring the Anthropology of Britain: Ethnographic, Theoretical and Interdisciplinary Perspectives, co-edited with Dr Katharine Tyler (Exeter). My research monograph Ageing Selves and Everyday Life in the North of England: Years in the Making (2012) was reviewed in the Journal of The Royal Anthropological Institute, Times Higher Education and Ageing & Society
Ethnographic areas: the north of England (South Yorkshire; Cheshire); Labrador.
2018-2021 £749,00. ESRC. Identity, Belonging and the Role of the Media in Brexit Britain. PI Katharine Tyler (Exeter). This substantial piece of ethnographic research will explore how everyday experiences of identity inform people's attitudes to immigration and their senses of belonging (or not) to local places, the nation and Europe in Brexit Britain.
2016-2018 £1.1 million. AHRC. Creative Fuse North East (CFNE). PI Eric Cross. I was Co-I on this project, leading an ethnographic work package exploring the anthropology of knowledge production via the ‘fusion’ of creativity, culture and digital technology,with postdoctoral researcher Audrey Verma.
I have also been involved in a series of projects that develop my interests in ageing and in place:
2014-2017 £1.7 million. EPSRC Health and Wellbeing for the Built Environment Programme. "Mobility and Place for the Age-Friendly City Environment" (MyPLACE). PI Pete Wright.
2011-2013 £253,799. MRC Life Long Health and Wellbeing Programme. "Ageing Creatively: a pilot study to explore the relation of creative arts interventions to wellbeing in later life". PI Eric Cross. See this link for more information on our research.
I have collaborated with Michiko Nitta, a speculative designer and artist, on our shared interest in people's relationships (past, present and future) with nature. Please visit the Interventions Project web pages for more information and our project page our project page . The outcome of this project was exhibited 29th June - 9th July 2010, ExLibris Gallery, Fine Art Building, Newcastle University.
I am co-convenor of the Anthropology of Britain network. The aim of the network is to provide a forum which will facilitate a greater level of communication between researchers with an ethnographic interest in contemporary British society. Visit our website here: http://www.theasa.org/networks/aob.shtml
In 2009, I organised a symposium entitled 'Embodiment, Subjectivity and Ageing: Emerging Areas of Exploration'. This offered the opportunity to open up conversation amongst anthropologists, sociologists and researchers in assistive technology with a shared interest in ageing. Visit this site for more details of speakers and papers.
I would be happy to discuss potential postgraduate supervision with any student interested in any of the following topics: ageing; identity and the self; anthropology and sociology of the body; social memory; experiences of place and of social change; new genetics and society; human relations with the natural world; anthropology of Britain; using ethnographic methods.
Jane Nolan (SELLS funded) on ethnographic approaches to 'employability' in Higher Education. Co-supervised with Jennifer Richards.
Simona Palladino (EPSRC and FMS funded) "Place identity and place attachment among Italian older migrants in Newcastle upon Tyne". Co-supervised with Katie Brittain.
Heather Sutherland (HaSS Faculty funded 3.5) "Brothers and Sisters: Exploring the self-reported experiences and effects of losing a sibling to suicide during adult life". Co-supervised with Suzanne Moffatt and Tom Widger.
Bethan Griffith (ESRC DTC funding) Exploring the impact of social prescribing on health and wellbeing. Co-supervised with Suzanne Moffatt.
Silvia Maritati (Newcastle University Research Excellence Academy Funding) Asylum, Inequality, and sense of place in peripheral Europe. Co-supervised with Silvia Pasquetti.
Dr Ceri Black (ESRC funded, 1 3) "Virginity Practices: Sociological Perspectives on Agency, Identity and the Body". Co-supervised with Steph Lawler.
Dr Anu Vaittinen (School of GPS scholarship funding) "Embodiment, Sensuous Experience and Mixed Martial Arts". Co-supervised with Monica Moreno Figueroa and Peter Phillimore.
Dr Deborah Burn (ESRC 1 3) "The Social World of the Allotment". Co-supervised with John Vail.
Dr Constance Awinpoka Akurugu (funded by Ghanaian Ministry of Education) "Marriage, Power and Performativity: Theorising Gender Relations in Rural Northern Ghana". Co-supervised with Carolyn Pedwell.
Dr Kate Gibson (ESRC 3) "Feeding the Middle Classes: Taste, Classed Identity and Domestic Food Practices". Co-supervised with Lisa Garforth and Alison Stenning.
2015-ongoing: Committee Member and Special Edition Assessor, Royal Anthropological Institute, Publications Committee
2012-ongoing: Editorial Board member, Ageing & Society
I was invited to appear on BBC Radio Four's Thinking Allowed to discuss one of my publications, 'On Vegetable Love: Gardening, Plants and People in the North of England'.
2010 Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences, Newcastle University, £3600
2008 Foundation for the Sociology of Health and Illness, £2000
2008 School of GPS Research Committee, £1750
2008 HaSS Faculty Small Grants, £500
2007 HaSS Faculty Futures Collaborative Project Award, £5,500 (shared)
2007 School of GPS Research Committee Small Bids, £495.75
2003 The Association of Social Anthropologists/Radcliffe-Brown Trust Fund Prize
2001 Flexible Fund Grant, Faculty of Social Sciences, The Open University
2000 Research Funding Grant, Faculty of Graduate Studies & Research, McGill University
1999 Fellowship, Faculty of Graduate Studies & Research, McGill University
1995-96 Max Bell Fellowship for Canadian and Northern Studies, McGill University
1995 Research Funding Grant, Fac. of Grad. Studies & Research, McGill University
1994-95 Max Bell Fellowship for Canadian and Northern Studies, McGill University
SOC 3097 Undergraduate Dissertation in Sociology (dissertation supervisor)
In previous years:
SOC 8044 Being, Belonging and Identity (alternate years)
HSS 8004 Qualitative Research Methods (contribute)
- Degnen C. Cross-cultural Perspectives on Personhood and the Life Course. New York, NY, USA: Palgrave Macmillian, 2018.
- Degnen C. Ageing Selves and Everyday Life in the North of England: Years in the Making. Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2012.
- Degnen C, Tyler K, ed. Reconfiguring the Anthropology of Britain: Ethnographic, Theoretical and Interdisciplinary Perspectives. London, Thousand Oaks, New Delhi: Sage Publications, 2017.
- Bolton M, Degnen C, ed. Animals and Science: From Colonial Encounters to the Biotech Industry. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge Scholars Press, 2010.
- Degnen C, Tyler K. Bringing Britain into being: sociology, anthropology and British lives. The Sociological Review 2017, 65(1), 20-34.
- Degnen C, Tyler K. Amongst the disciplines: anthropology, sociology, intersection, and intersectionality. The Sociological Review 2017, 65(1), 35-53.
- Brittain K, Degnen C, Gibson G, Dickinson C, Robinson AL. When walking becomes wandering: representing the fear of the fourth age. Sociology of Health and Illness 2017, 39(2), 270-284.
- Degnen C. Socialising place attachment: place, social memory and embodied affordances. Ageing and Society 2016, 36(8), 1645-1667.
- Degnen C. ‘Knowing’, absence and presence: the spatial and temporal depth of relations. Environment and Planning D: Society and Space 2013, 31(3), 554-570.
- Degnen C. Placing personhood: ontology, the life course, and cemeteries. Teaching Anthropology 2013, 3(1), 3-16.
- Degnen C. Comment on “Can a species be a person?: a trope and its entanglements in the anthropocene era”. Current Anthropology 2011, 52(5), 676-677.
- Bolton M, Degnen C. Introduction. In: Bolton, M., Degnen, C, ed. Animals and Science: From Colonial Encounters to the Biotech Industry. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge Scholars Press, 2010, pp.1-29.
- Degnen C. Old Macdonald Had a Pharm: Animals, Science and Pharmaceutical Production. In: Bolton, M., Degnen, C, ed. Animals and Science: From Colonial Encounters to the Biotech Industry. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge Scholars Press, 2010, pp.220-245.
- Degnen C. On vegetable love: Gardening, plants, and people in the North of England. Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute 2009, 15(1), 151-167.
- Degnen C. Eating genes and raising people: Kinship thinking and genetically modified food in the north of England. In: Edwards, J and Salazar, C, ed. European Kinship in the Age of Biotechnology. Oxford: Berghahn Books, 2009, pp.45-63.
- Degnen C. Minding the gap: The construction of old age and oldness amongst peers. Journal of Aging Studies 2007, 21(1), 69-80.
- Degnen C. Mémoire, lien social et topographie locale à Dodworth. Ethnologie française 2007, 37(2), 285-293.
- Degnen C. Back to the future: Temporality, narrative and the ageing self. In: Hallam E; Ingold T, ed. Creativity and Cultural Improvisation. Oxford: Berg, 2007, pp.223-235.
- Degnen C, Jeffrey AS. We have something in common: introduction to four commentaries on A Home from Home. Geographical Journal 2007, 173(4), 391–394.
- Degnen C. Softly, softly: Comparative silences in British stories of genetic modification. Focaal 2006, 48, 67-82.
- Degnen C. Commemorating Coal Mining in the Home: Material Culture and Domestic Space in Dodworth, South Yorkshire. The Humanities Research Institute, University of Sheffield, 2006. Available at: http://www.hrionline.ac.uk/matshef/degnen/MSdegnen.htm.
- Degnen C. Relationality, place, and absence: a three-dimensional perspective on social memory. The Sociological Review 2005, 53(4), 729–744.
- Degnen C. Temporality, narrative, and the ageing self. Cambridge Anthropology 2005, 25(2), 50-63.
- Degnen C. Animals and science: Anthropological approaches. Anthropology Today 2005, 21(5), 24.
- Degnen C. Healing Sheshatshiu: Community healing and country space. In: Scott CH, ed. Aboriginal Autonomy and Development in Northern Quebec-Labrador. Vancouver: University of British Columbia Press, 2001, pp.357-378.
- Knowles C, MacDonald ME, Degnen C. Managing and experiencing mental distress in Montreal’s informal health care sector. Montréal: CQRS, 1998.
- Degnen C. Ghosts of memory: essays on remembrance and relatedness – Carsten J (ed.). Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute 2009, 15(1), 192-193.
- Degnen C. Review of: British Subjects: An Anthropology of Britain by Nigel Rapport (ed.). Anthropologica 2004, 46(2), 291-293.
- Degnen C. Review of: A Phenomenology of Working Class Experience by Simon Charlesworth. Social Anthropology 2002, 10(2), 262-264.
- Degnen C. Fairness, Class and Belonging in Contemporary England by Katherine Smith, 2012 [Book Review]. Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute 2014, 20(3), 600-601.
- Carrithers MB, Bracken LJ, Emery SB. Can a species be a person? A trope and its entanglements in the anthropocene era. Current Anthropology 2011, 52(5), 661-685.
- Degnen C. Ethnographies of Ageing. In: Twigg,J;Martin,W, ed. Routledge Handbook of Cultural Gerontology. Taylor and Francis Inc, 2015, pp.105-112.