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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.


In preparation: 

Monograph: Looking to Listen, offers a foundational argument for the reconceptualization of listening. The book uses deaf sociality as a foundational case study to exemplify the challenges inherent in listening, particularly when people have little in common. It aims to explore deaf processes of communicating and listening, but also to highlight the challenges that different forms of authorship face when confronted with hegemonic rigidity, especially within British institutions where imposition of English speech and text frequently eliminates deaf modes of telling. This has implications across other spaces of listening incompatibilities, including in cases of asylum-seeking and migration, as well as in spaces where testimony is paramount such as in evidencing need of support and deservingness in welfare assessments or in judicial proceedings.


Journal articles

2021 (Accepted for publication)

  • Robinson, K., 2021 (Accepted for publication). Knowing by DEAF-Listening: Epistemologies & Ontologies Revealed in Song-Signing, American Anthropological Association American Anthropologist,
  • 2019

  • Robinson, KF., 2019. Conscious artistic translanguaging onstage APPLIED LINGUISTICS REVIEW, v. 10 10.1515/applirev-2017-0079
  • 2016

  • Robinson, KF., 2016. Anthropology, theatre, and development: the transformative potential of performance JOURNAL OF THE ROYAL ANTHROPOLOGICAL INSTITUTE, v. 22 10.1111/1467-9655.12508
  • Book chapters

    2021 (No publication date)

  • Robinson, K. and Carroll, T., Mica, A. and Anna, H. (eds.), 2021 (No publication date). The Material Ecologies of Policy Failure: Ruptures of Bodies and of State, Routledge
  • Robinson, K. and Arteaga, I., Manderson, L., Bennett, LR. and Spagnoletti, B. (eds.), 2021 (No publication date). 'Hard-to-Reach'? Meanings at the Margins of Care and Risk in Cancer Research, UCL Press
  • 2019

  • Robinson, K., 2019. Robinson, Kelly Fagan. 2019. "The form that flattens." in Medical Materialities: Toward a Material Culture of Medical Anthropology. London, Routledge., Routledge
  • Internet publications


  • Arteaga Perez, MI., Fagan Robinson, K. and McDonald, M., 2020. Covid-19 test and trace: Look for the super-locals to access “hard to reach” groups, BMJ Opinion
  • 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

    Leverhulme Early Career Fellow
    Fellow and Postgraduate Tutor, Clare Hall college
    Dr Kelly Fagan Robinson

    Contact Details

    Email address: