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MPhil in Health, Medicine and Society



Maryon McDonald has been Fellow in Social Anthropology at Robinson College, Cambridge, since 1997. She was previously Reader in Social Anthropology at Brunel University, and has held visiting appointments at the Universities of Rennes (France) and Oxford (UK), where she was also elected ‘O’Donnell Lecturer’ in recognition of her contribution to Celtic linguistics and scholarship. She has often been asked to speak to medical teams about subsequent work she has done on health issues, or to new recruits in Brussels and UK civil servants following her work on EU institutions.

Dr McDonald has long engaged with the anthropology of Europe, and has advised the European Commission on several topics. In Cambridge, she has run courses on European Anthropology, Medical Anthropology and Science and Society, and is a member of the Royal Anthropological Institute’s Medical Anthropology Committee and of the European ELPAT group (Ethical, Legal, and Psychosocial aspects of Organ Transplantation). Along with Professor Marilyn Strathern, Dr McDonald founded and ran a research group on Comparative Issues in Biotechnology and Accountability (CBA), and was subsequently engaged in a large Leverhulme-funded research project examining changing understandings of the human body. Her current focus is on the related theoretical and empirical issues that have arisen, including professional detachment and the problematic category of ‘ethics’, and the contribution of anthropology to life and death issues in the medical field. One recent focus has been on questions surrounding the early detection of cancer. She also teaches and researches in the field of anthropological theory more generally.

Dr Maryon McDonald on the Department of Social Anthropology website


Medical anthropology, ‘Science and Society’ issues, European anthropology, the EU, linguistics, rethinkings of ‘cognition’, bioethics and accountability, management, bureaucracy, collaborative anthropology and practices of detachment, Europe: UK, France and EU institutions.

Maryon McDonald


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