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Kelly Fagan Robinson

College positions:
Research Fellow, Tutor
Social Anthropology
Department of Social Anthropology, Max Planck Cambridge Centre for Ethics, Economy and Social Change, Social Morphologies Research Unit
Contact details:

Dr Kelly Fagan Robinson

Dr Kelly Fagan Robinson is a Leverhulme Early Career Research Fellow, Medical Anthropology Subject Manager and Lecturer for the Health, Medicine and Society MPhil and in the Department of Social Anthropology.

Her Leverhulme project, titled ‘Communication Faultlines on the Frontlines‘, tests the limits of communicating need and deservingness of support between people who have little common ground. Her work covers a broad base of anthropological and interdisciplinary research in semiotics, language, and epistemic dissonances within health and care spaces in the UK and internationally.

Dr Fagan Robinson earned her PhD in Social Anthropology from University College London. Her doctoral research, awarded an ESRC/AHRC Multidisciplinary Studentship for research combining public policy and heritage, focused on deaf-centred listening practices with an emphasis on narrative techniques in professional performance and in everyday instances of testimony.

Her subsequent research continues to employ multimodal methodological approaches combining text, image and film to unpack the social relations that contribute to categories of personhood such as ‘disabled’ or ‘at-risk’. She seeks to understand how such classifications inform knowledge-making within systems of public care and support, specifically how embedded perceptions of social or bodily alterity contribute to epistemic injustice within institutional settings. She has worked on these research questions across: British conceptualisations of cancer-risk on the CRUK ‘Elusive Risks’ pilot project; on an Alliance for Cancer Early Detection skills exchange with University of Manchester which explores the translatability of evidence across academic disciplines; and through lecturing and researching disability and public policies in Brazil as an associate on the British Academy Advanced Newton Fellowship project ‘Living with Disabilities’. She holds a degree-level NVQ6 in British Sign Language.

Select publications

  • Robinson, Kelly Fagan. “Knowing by DEAF-listening: Epistemologies and ontologies revealed in song-signing” in special issue: ‘Knowing By Singing’ American Anthropologist. Gatt, Caroline and Valeria Lembo, eds. original English (11.07.2022) and British Sign Language translation (10.10.2022).
  • The Social Morphologies Research Unit: 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
  • 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
  • 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
  • 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).
  • 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).
  • Robinson, Kelly Fagan. “Conscious artistic translanguaging onstage,” Applied linguistics review, 10(1), pp. 73–92. (2019).
  • Robinson, Kelly Fagan. “Flynn, Alex & Jonas Tinius (eds). Anthropology, theatre, and development: the transformative potential of performance. xiv, 368 London: Palgrave, 2015” Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute (2016).

Select awards

  • Leverhulme Early Career Fellowship, Department of Social Anthropology (PI), 2021-2024
  • International Alliance for Cancer Early Detection/CRUK skills exchange (PI), 2020-2022
  • British Academy Advanced Newton Fellowship: UFRGS, Brazil and UCL, 2018-2022
  • ESRC/AHRC Multidisciplinary PhD Studentship (Public Policy and Heritage), 2013-2018

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