The School of Geography, Politics and Sociology

Staff Profile

Professor Peter Phillimore

Visiting Professor of Social Anthropology



I am a social anthropologist based within Newcastle Sociology, and throughout my career much of my research has been collaborative - working particularly with other social scientists and epidemiologists.  I have enjoyed the cross-disciplinary conversations this experience has required.  Since my PhD, most of my writing has been either on health-related topics or on environmental politics, and sometimes at the intersection of the two.  I retired in 2015 and now hold the position of Visiting Professor of Social Anthropology. 

I studied Social Anthropology at Edinburgh (MA, 1973) and then at Durham (PhD, 1982). I came to Newcastle in 1988 (initially in CURDS) and became Professor of Social Anthropology in 2006.  

My doctoral ethnography was in Himachal Pradesh, north India.  My PhD looked at kinship, marriage, gender and economy among one of the main pastoralist groups of the western Himalaya, the Gaddis.  A long interest in environmental politics dates from that time in Kangra, witnessing the pressures that Gaddi shepherds faced and the ways they navigated these challenges.  India has remained a major interest ever since (teaching, PhD supervision, and research, most recently on what was for me the novel topic of mHealth in rural Andhra Pradesh).

Before coming to Newcastle University, my first academic post was as a research associate at Bristol University in the Department of Social Policy, working with Professor Peter Townsend on health inequalities in England's Northern Region (1983-87).

This work on health and inequality continued at Newcastle, leading to a series of projects with an environmental focus: first on environmental health, then later on the politics of industrial pollution, and environmental risk cultures.  These projects took place in Teesside (England), Grangemouth (Scotland) and Ludwigshafen (Germany).  While the initial research in Teesside was epidemiological in character (jointly led with Professor Raj Bhopal), the comparative studies in Grangemouth and Ludwigshafen were ethnographic, exploring what it meant to live in towns dominated by a single major industry (chemicals/ petrochemicals). 

Latterly, since 2009 the eastern Mediterranean/ Middle East has been the main focus of my research, through two comparative EU-funded research projects (MedCHAMPS and RESCAP-MED) concerning public health and health services/ health systems in several countries of the region (Turkey, Syria, Palestine, Tunisia, and latterly Jordan and Lebanon also).  This work, with various academic partners in the UK, Ireland and the countries mentioned, took place as the current tragic crises in the region unfolded, ending in 2015.   

Roles and Responsibilities

From 2009-14 I represented Newcastle University in the Public Health Foundation of India - UK Consortium.

From 2005-9 I was Head of Sociology/ Deputy Head of School.

From 2006-8 I was Associate Director, Institute of Health and Society, Newcastle University.


MA in Social Anthropology, University of Edinburgh, 1973
PhD in Social Anthropology, University of Durham, 1982


Research Interests

1.      Anthropology of health and medicine; inequalities in health; social implications of chronic illness; health systems in developing countries.

2.      Anthropology of the environment; environmental pollution and risk politics.

3.      India.

4.      Eastern Mediterranean/ Middle East.  

Postgraduate Supervision

I have supervised and co-supervised thirteen PhD students to successful completion, with involvement ongoing for two current PhD students.  




Since retirement I am no longer teaching.