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Department of Social Anthropology



Robinson’s research focuses on the senses, disability, communication and social access. It foregrounds the ways that individual histories, bodies, sensorial hierarchies, education, and experiences of formalised care can generate epistemic dissonances and injustices for British people. Her social anthropology doctoral research (University College London), entitled Looking to Listen (awarded an ESRC/AHRC multidisciplinary grant in Public Policy and Heritage), investigated institutional reception of – or resistance to – deaf-centred communication practices. Her broader research focuses on the ways that social relations contribute to constructions of categories of personhood, and how these definitions inform knowledge-making particularly within systems of care. She incorporates the ways that embedded perceptions of bodily alterity contribute to inequalities, as well as how communication influences knowledge-making processes and value judgements within health and social care in the UK and internationally.

Robinson’s work on the CRUK project, 'Elusive Risks', has helped to re-contextualise the category of 'hard-to-reach’ populations within the contexts of cancer, risk and care. This project has facilitated greater understanding of various seldom-heard peoples' concerns about screening and other early detection programmes, which in turn has fostered development of insights into communication of risks and prevention of infectious diseases, as well as more effective use of existing community networks in contact-tracing initiatives during the Covid19 pandemic.

Since 2018, Robinson has also worked as research associate and lecturer on the British Academy Advanced Newton Fellowship, “Living with Disabilities,” at the Universidade Federal do Rio Grande do Sul (UFRGS) in Porto Alegre, Brazil, focusing on Disability anthropology and epistemic differences. As part of this project she has conducted seminars and workshops in the UK and Brazil around inclusive multimodal methodologies, inequality, and marginality in various global contexts for multilingual audiences (spoken and signed languages). She lectures on techniques of multimodal attention and analysis as ways of thinking through the complex constitution of language differences and related inequalities in healthcare. She is a Visiting Lecturer and Honorary Research Associate in Anthropology at UCL and lectures in the UCL medical school. She holds an NVQ 6 in British Sign Language.

Robinson’s Leverhulme Early Career Fellowship project, Communication Faultlines on the Frontlines (2021-2024), will chart and analyse the ways that individual experiences, bodies, and moral judgments contribute to specific definitions of ‘worth’, ‘effects’, and ‘support’ at the coal-face of British benefits assessments.


International Alliance for Cancer Early Detection (ACED/CRUK)


PI: Skills Exchange which addresses communication gaps between Medical Anthropology and statistically-driven Risk Prevention modelling, to broaden understanding and energise new approaches to cancer research (

Max Planck–Cambridge Centre for Ethics, Economy and Social Change (Affiliate) (


Medical and Biosocial anthropology; Sensory anthropology; Anthropology of Institutions; Disability ; Deafness; Social effects of epistemic dissonances and injustice; Communication and affordance theory; Inclusive multimodal methodologies and In-Reach.


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

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

Arteaga, Ignacia, Kelly Fagan Robinson & Maryon McDonald. “How to ‘track and trace’? Look for the super- locals” for BMJ (pre-press 2020).


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. (Expected pub. 2020). 

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. (Expected pub: 2021). 

Fagan Robinson, Kelly & Ignacia Arteaga,“Who are the 'hard-to-reach' and for whom?” in Embodying Inequalities: Perspectives from Medical Anthropology edited volume. Lenore Manderson, Linda Rae Bennett and Belinda Spagnoletti, eds. (Under Contract, expected pub: 2021). 

In preparation:

Monograph: Looking to Listen, a foundational argument for the reconceptualization of listening individual sensory priorities and discordant hegemonic rigidities.

Teaching and Supervisions


SAN1: The Comparative Perspective: Pandemics and the Stories ‘we’ tell
SAN3: Anthropological Theory and Methods: Embodiment and the Senses 
SAN8: Anthropology and Development: Contemporary Development Practice - Global Health
SAN9 – Science & Society: Anthropologies of Medicine

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, Epistemologies

Lecturer in Medical Anthropology
Subject Manager for MPhil in Health Medicine and Society
Leverhulme Early Career Fellow
Dr Kelly Fagan Robinson

Contact Details

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