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Professor Alison Shaw

Alison Shaw is a social anthropologist whose fieldwork in Pakistan and the UK in the 1980s resulted in a pioneering study of transnational Pakistani practices of kinship and marriage. She then taught Urdu professionally, trained teachers of Urdu in adult education, and updated her original monograph with fieldwork conducted in the 1990s. Her next project, undertaken in the 2000s, was with British Pakistani families who have children with genetic problems: she examined discrepancies between patients' and clinicians' understandings of genetic risk and inheritance in the context of referrals to medical genetics. She disseminated the findings of that research in clinical contexts, and some of her work has been used in training genetic counsellors. Since then she has worked collaboratively on a comparative examination of the social, political and health impact of discourses of genetic risk in consanguineous marriage in Europe, South Asia, The Middle East and Africa.

Her research interests are in the anthropology of medical genetics and genetic screening, migration, transnational cultural movements, and health. She is Professor of Social Anthropology at the University of Oxford, Senior Associate at Oxford Centre of Islamic Studies, and Adjunct Professor at UCLA.

Contact Information:

Tel: +44 1865 618513


Oxford Centre for Islamic Studies, University of Oxford

Marston Road, Oxford OX3 OEE, UK


Research Interests

My current research concerns initiatives in the delivering of genomic personalised medicine within multi-ethnic and socially diverse contexts of
healthcare. I am also exploring aspects of the "Indian/Eastern" practice of yoga, which has become a tool of self-transformation, discipline and therapy within mainstream consumer culture, particularly as exemplified in Los Angeles. I supervise graduate students working on topics related to my research interests.


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