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Anthropology by children: Dr Kelly Fagan Robinson leads pioneering pilot

14 November 2022 Fellows

Dr Kelly Fagan Robinson, a Research Fellow and Tutor at Clare Hall, has developed an innovative pilot, Anthropology By Children (ABC), as part of her Leverhulme ECR Fellowship.

Her work tests the limits of communication of need in the UK. During ABC, Dr Robinson taught Year 6 students (aged 11), many from deprived backgrounds, to use ethnographic methods to tell their stories. Through ABC, Dr Robinson also teamed up with Islington Council, forming a piece of their biggest-ever research programme into inequalities. This match was facilitated by Capabilities in Academic Policy Engagement (CAPE), a scheme which joins academic researchers with policymakers seeking evidence. 

Dr Robinson and Islington policy officer Imogen Resnick have co-written a CAPE case study blog to communicate the initial findings from ABC in schools, but also to share what they have learned together about the ways in which inclusive research can provide a rich foundation for successful collaboration between academics and policymakers, and a better future for participants.

Providing children across the attainment spectrum with a useful research and communication toolkit, ABC has also yielded key insights into the lives of Islington’s young people in the terms they use to express their perspectives – crucial for the understanding of those who do not directly share those experiences.

Looking ahead, they share:

‘The project is only just beginning, but it is working toward culminating in a broader understanding of citizen engagement from age 10+, looking at ways of embodying citizenship, fostering individual agency, and achieving different ways of voicing one’s own story and directly impacting community transformation; these are also key objectives discussed by Islington Council’s Inequalities Taskforce. Additionally, through seeking out the partnership using the CAPE fellowship as a resource for finding a local government whose research and evidence agenda aligned with the researcher’s project, this collaboration has had the privilege of directly feeding into Islington’s inequality engagement programme including the Inequality Taskforce, Let’s Talk Islington, and their upcoming inequalities summit set for early 2023.’

Edit 20/1/23: Cancer Research UK has since launched a new MOOC, ‘Risk: Learning to Share’, and postgraduates, PhD candidates, and early-career researchers are welcome to have a go at the 45-minute module: