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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)  

Early Cancer Research Institute




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.



2024. Robinson, Kelly Fagan. “The Present as Legibility”, In “Back to the Present” edited by Timothy P.A. Cooper, Michael Edwards & Nikita Simpson, American Ethnologist website, January 26 2024, []

2022: Robinson, Kelly Fagan. "Knowing by DEAF‐listening: Epistemologies and ontologies revealed in song‐signing." American Anthropologist 124, no. 4 (2022): 866-879.  British Sign Language translation (10.10.2022)

2022:  SMRU: David Burrows, Martin Holbraad, John Cussans, Kelly Fagan Robinson, Melanie Jackson, Dean Kenning, Inigo Minns, Lucy Sames, Hermione Spriggs, Mary Yacoob. “C30: Morphologies of agents of the pandemic SMRU” (in Lockdown Cultures: The arts & humanities in the year of the pandemic, 2020-21, eds. Stella Bruzzi and Maurice Biriotti (10.11.2022). ISBN: 9781800083431

2022: 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. (29.11.2022). ISBN: 9780367404048

2023: Fagan Robinson, Kelly & Ignacia Arteaga, “Who are the ‘hard-to-reach’ and for whom?” in Cancer and the Politics of Care: Inequalities and interventions in global perspective. Lenore Manderson, Linda Rae Bennett and Belinda Spagnoletti, eds. (01.02.2023). ISBN: 9781800080744

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

2019: Robinson, Kelly Fagan. “Conscious Artistic Translanguaging,” Applied Linguistics Review, 10(1), pp.73–92. (2019).

2015: Robinson, Kelly Fagan. “Flynn, Alex & Jonas Tinius (eds). Anthropology, theatre, and development. xiv, 368 London: Palgrave, 2015” Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute (2016).


Digital Publications

2022: Robinson, Kelly Fagan. “Anthropology By Children (ABC) and Islington Council: a CAPE Fellowship collaboration case study” Capabilities in Academic Policy Engagement ( 31.10.2022).

2020: Robinson, Kelly Fagan, Ignacia Arteaga & Maryon McDonald. “Covid: How to ‘track and trace’? Look for the super-locals” for British Medical Journal (BMJ) Editorials. ( 10.09.2020).


Books under review

Edited Volume: Inaccessible Access: confronting barriers to epistemic inclusion (Under review with Rutgers University Press) This book addresses the social, environmental, communicative, and epistemological barriers people with disabilities still frequently confront, inside and outside of academia.

Edited Volume: Inaccessible Access: confronting barriers to epistemic inclusion (Under review in Brazil for Portuguese translation)


In Preparation

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


Open Online Course (MOOC)

Shared Risks, Cancer Research UK ( is a series of short-form online courses to demystify risk evidence sharing. By thinking about the different contributions we each make to understanding risk (whether data scientist, clinician, social scientist or member of the public) we will improve our shared knowledge and achieve the best possible outcomes for the people we serve.

Module 1 – “Risk: Learning to Share” ((

Module 2 – “Elusive Risks” (in development)



CRUK Ask Me Anything about Communicating Risk Across Disciplines (


Cambridge Women Changing The World (40. Kelly Fagan Robinson


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
Postdoctoral Researcher at the Early Cancer Research Institute
Affiliated Lecturer
HMS Anthropology Examiner
Dr Kelly Fagan Robinson

Contact Details