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Department of Social Anthropology



I have been carrying out anthropological research on various aspects of mental healthcare since 2012. My doctoral research examined the practice of ‘evidence-based psychological therapy’ in the UK, with particular reference to cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT). The research was based on 18 months of fieldwork among mental health practitioners working in and around the Improving Access to Psychological Therapies (IAPT) service established in 2008 as part of the National Health Service. The thesis offers a series of ethnographic reflections on the effects of the institutionalisation of psychological therapy and the scientific persuasions that have made it possible. An important aspect of this research examined how IAPT therapies, especially CBT and Mindfulness, align with dominant discourses in biomedicine concerning treatment and evidence, and some of the assumptions concerning ideas of the ‘mind’ and ‘self’ that are implicit in them. The thesis speaks to interests and issues in anthropologies of science, public health, and ethics, including the anthropology of Europe.

I studied Social Anthropology as an undergraduate at the University of Cambridge where I wrote a dissertation on clinical psychologists and clinician-client relations. I hold a Master of Research in Medical Anthropology from University College London, for which I completed a thesis on psychodynamic child therapy.

Prior to the PhD, I worked in the CIPP Research Team at the Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology & Neuroscience, King’s College London, and the Maudsley Hospital. More recently, I worked as a consultant to AFS Intercultural Programs and UNESCO.

I am currently engaged in the CRASSH Research Network: Talking as Cure? Contemporary Understandings of Mental Health and Its Treatments


Medical anthropology and anthropology of science; mental health, personhood and care; evidence-based practice; public health and the NHS (IAPT); psychotherapeutics; notions of ‘subjectivity’ and ‘objectivity’; history and philosophy of psychology and cognitive science; anthropological theory. Europe; UK and Scandinavia.



Key publications: 

2018 'Studying psychological therapies: an ethnographic approach to “metacognition”’. Paper presented to ASA: Sociality, matter, and the imagination: re-creating Anthropology, University of Oxford. 

2018 ‘The Aesthetics of Modelling: patterns, politics and pleasure in visual representations’ (convenor, with A. Pearson). Conference panel conducted at Art, Materiality and Representation, Royal Anthropological Institute, SOAS and British Museum.

2017 (in press) ‘The Corporeality of Magic’ in A. Bosselmann-Ruickbie and L. Ruickbie (eds.) The Material Culture of Magic. Leiden: Brill Academic Publishers. 

2017 ‘Mental health and cognitive behaviour therapy in the UK’. Monologue for Two. The Ministry of Counterculture - www

2014 ‘Finding a language of analysis: the problem of “embodiment” in the study of psychotherapy’. Paper presented to Risk, Embodiment and HealthTechnologies, University College London.

2014 ‘Healing the mind: clinical psychologists and mental healthcare’. Paper presented to Whither Anthropology? Department of Anthropology, University College London.

Teaching and Supervisions


Undergraduate Supervision

SAN1 – Social Anthropology: The Comparative Perspective 

SAN3 – Anthropological Theory and Methods

SAN5 – Ethical Life and the Anthropology of the Subject

SAN9 – Science and Environment


Postgraduate Supervision

MPhil Paper 1 – Production and Reproduction

MPhil Paper 2 – Systems of Power and Knowledge


Dissertation Supervision

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


Teaching Associate
 Mikkel Kenni Bruun (2015)

Contact Details

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