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Dr Kelly Fagan Robinson

Dr Kelly Fagan Robinson

Teaching Associate


My work focuses on disability, communication, health and social policy. It foregrounds the ways that individual histories, bodies, sensorial hierarchies, education, and experiences of formalized care can generate epistemic dissonances/injustices for people with disabilities. My anthropology doctorate was awarded by University College London (UCL) in 2018. My thesis, Looking to Listen (ESRC/AHRC multidisciplinary studentship, Public Policy and Heritage), investigated deaf people’s visual-tactile communication resources, as well as institutional reception or resistance to deaf-centred communication practices. My broader research focuses on the social relations that contribute to understandings of ‘disability’ as a category of personhood, and how these inform disability-centric knowledge-making particularly within systems of care. I employ multimodal methodological approaches to zero in on the components that generate individual understanding, incorporating the ways that embedded perceptions of disability contribute to epistemic dissonance and inequalities, as well as how communication affordances influence knowledge-making processes and value judgements within health and social care in the UK and internationally.

In 2019, I was an invited lecturer at UFRGS, Porto Alegre (Brazil), delivering an intensive post-graduate/MPhil course on disability and epistemic alterity. This course was part of a two-year grant designed to support collaboration between Medical Anthropologists from the UK and colleagues from Brazil, facilitating a comparative review of lived experiences of disability in both countries. I will be working with Dr. Sahra Gibbon (UCL) to coordinate a 2020 UK programme with counter visits from Brazilian colleagues, facilitating seminars and workshops around disability and health in various global contexts. Since May 2019, I have worked with Dr. Maryon McDonald and Dr. Ignacia Arteaga as part of the ‘Elusive Risk’ CRUK pump-priming study (University of Cambridge), collecting and documenting conceptions of and responses to cancer, risk, and care across a broad diversity of Cambridgeshire people.

I am an Honorary Research Associate in Anthropology at UCL.

Research Interests

Deafness/Disability; social, sensory, medical, bio-social anthropology; epistemic injustice; communication; affordance theory; linguistic ethnography, and social semiotic multimodality


Postgraduate Supervision

Health, Medicine & Society (HMS) MPhil: Medical Anthropology

Postgraduate Lectures

HMS MPhil - Medical Anthropology: Core Module

HMS MPhil - Medical Anthropology: 'Non-normal': Bodies, (Dis)Abilities, Epistemiologies

Key Publications

Fagan Robinson, Kelly. “The Form that Flattens” in Parkhurst, Aaron and Timothy Carroll, eds.  Medical Materialities: Toward a Material Culture of Medical Anthropology. Routledge, 2019b.

Fagan Robinson, Kelly. "Conscious artistic translanguaging onstage" Applied Linguistics Review 2019a.

(under review) Fagan Robinson, Kelly. “Access or Epistemic dissonance? Divergent ways of knowing in signed-song practices” in special issue: Knowing By Singing proposed for American Anthropologist. Gatt, Caroline and Valeria Lembo, eds.

(in preparation) Fagan Robinson, Kelly & Timothy Carroll, “The material ecologies of legal failure.” Handbook of Failure: Contributions from Sociology and Other Social Sciences. Adriana Mica, Anna Horolets, Mikołaj Pawlak and Paweł Kubicki, eds.