top of page


Taweez amulet to protect against marriage problems, East London, 2012

Recent Workshops

Workshops are designed to provide the opportunity for collaborative research development. They are grounded in core topics of social and cultural anthropology that have long provided the essential context for understanding fertility and reproduction, notably kinship, marriage, family, sexuality, gender, ritual and symbolic systems of collective representation and identity construction, and medical and demographic anthropology. Interdisciplinarity is a central purpose of workshops, bringing anthropologists together with historians, demographers, epidemiologists, geneticists, clinicians, and others to develop joint conceptual, empirical and applied approaches.

The Anthropological Demography of Health

International Workshop, Oxford 29-31 March, 2017

Fertility and Reproduction Studies Group

School of Anthropology

Oxford University

Centre Population et Développement

et Centre Virchow-Villermé

Université Paris-Descartes


For more than four decades, fertility and reproductive health have been the primary focus of anthropological and demographic collaboration.  Over this period, however, a body of combined research has gradually been built on a much wider range of health issues. A shortlist would include: major current and potential epidemiological trends (malaria, AIDS, obesity, influenza, TB, cholera, ebola, etc.); infant, child and maternal morbidity/mortality; nutrition; mental health; and population ageing. The balance of attention to reproduction has also begun to change, in consequence both of renewed attention to endemic infertility and childlessness  (linked variously to AIDS, pathological sterility, sex work, circumcision practices, and social and age-structural constraints), and genetic and related medical developments (notably IVF and other new reproductive technologies). In the same period, medical, demographic and social historians, often drawing on anthropological theory and perspectives, have documented the crucial role of local understanding in the successful implementation of past public health interventions.

The objectives of the workshop are

  • to bring together an interdisciplinary group of 20 innovative researchers whose work combines anthropological and demographic thinking on these topics.

  • to provide a well-structured forum for comparative discussion.

  • to consider whether approaches to the several topics, whilst often carried out independently, nonetheless indicate a common framework which can be used to set an agenda for future research.

  • to produce a set of publishable chapters that provides a first integrative statement of the anthropological demography of health.

 The five sessions of the workshop will be as follows:

 (For a complete listing of the programme schedule, please click here; to view programme abstracts, click here.)

  1. The Necessity of Local Understanding in Public Health Reform: A Short History. The stage is set for the workshop by papers giving historical case studies which show how and why, in European and colonial history, improvements in national mortality and health were shaped by concerted attempts to collect data on local health conditions and to understand – often very incompletely and imperfectly – the social, cultural and economic circumstances underlying them.

  2. Techniques du Corps. Anthropological demography and epidemiology provide essential methods and perspectives that enable the findings of medical anthropologists to be utilised at community and wider population levels. Following Marcel Mauss’s classic formulation, attention to specific bodily practices enables the structure of local knowledge and practice to be compared to biomedical, genetic and other scientifically driven procedures, and their implications contrasted. Case studies will address how the social construction of diet, circumcision, reproduction, and gender play a role in constituting and contesting personal and group identities, and their consequences in differing demographic and health outcomes.

  3. Life-Course Analyses. Continuing the bottom-up approach of previous sessions, it is helpful to situate bodily practices of health and healing in the context of individual and family life courses, thus addressing sub-populations at successive infant and child, childbearing, and ageing stages of life.

  4. Anthropological Demography and Epidemiology. This, and the first part of the following, session will address (a.) problems of measurement and modelling that require close attention in combined demographic and anthropological research; and (b.) examples combining anthropological and demographic thinking in the context of medical programmes addressed to mental illness, reproductive health, and AIDS.

  5. In the Concluding Session rapporteurs will summarise main outcomes of papers and discussion, leading to critical assessment  by participants of the framework of the meeting and its adequacy as a synthesis of main components of the anthropological demography of health.

      Conveners:        Véronique Petit and Yves Charbit                                                                Philip Kreager and Kaveri Qureshi

                         Centre Population et Développement (CEPED)                                           Fertility and Reproduction Studies Group (FRSG)

The following workshop was organised by FRSG Fellows and Associates Konstantina Isidoros, Soraya Tremayne and Marcia Inhorn, with Nefissa Naguib.

Arab Masculinities: Anthropological Reconceptions

Open Day presentations of paper abstracts: 22nd March 2017 

Middle East Centre, University of Oxford  
Funded by the Wenner-Gren Foundation

Geopolitical events such as the 2011 Arab Spring and current European “migrant crisis” have amplified dominant portrayals of “traditional” Arab men from the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) as dangerous Muslim “others”. These essentialist discourses and monolithic stereotypes persist from the Orientalist legacy of veiled and disempowered “Arab/Muslim women” and patriarchal “Arab/Muslim men” who perpetrate war, brutality, radicalization and misogyny. Such dehumanizing caricatures render illegible the social realities of gender relations and how the lives of Arab men and women intersect. We seek to disrupt the dominant discourses and conventional approaches to gender in the Arab/Muslim world. Such a shift reflects mounting dissatisfaction with earlier anthropological and feminist work that tended to treat Arab “patriarchy” as timeless and taken-for-granted, thereby perpetuating hegemonic discourses of Arab manhood. Such an approach, we argue, is both outdated and out of step with much current gender studies research. We believe this is a crucial historical moment to critically engage with these dominant discourses—and to reconceive them—based on cutting-edge scholarship on Arab masculinities being conducted by a new generation of anthropologists. 

We are convening the first Wenner-Gren Workshop on masculinities to bring together a “new wave” of ethnographic research that is innovatively disrupting the dominant discourses and conventional approaches to gender in the Arab/Muslim world. This vanguard event has a concrete agenda to re-engage MENA feminist anthropology with the anthropology of men and launch the new field ofAnthropological Reconceptions of Arab Masculinities. Such a shift reflects mounting dissatisfaction with earlier anthropological and feminist work that tended to treat Arab “patriarchy” as timeless and taken-for-granted, thereby perpetuating hegemonic discourses of Arab manhood. We argue this is both outdated and out of step with much current gender studies research, not only in the MENA region, but in the Western academy more generally. In both cases, “crisis of masculinities” discourses and the need to “save” so-called “disempowered Third World women” are being vociferously debated. Our workshop thus presents a vital opportunity to advance a new anthropological field of Arab masculinities studies, in which theoretical frameworks, ethnographic representations and methodological strategies will be reformulated

Past Workshops
  • Sexuality, AIDS and Religion: Transnational Dynamics in Africa, held jointly with the International Research Network on AIDS and Religion in Africa (IRNARA). This conference, held at Oxford in Septemer 2012, explored themes ranging from the negotiation of policies within transnational faith-based organisations and the roles of diaspora in transnational collaboration to issues of technology and transnational family planning, the role of sexual networks and the value of sex, homosexuality and transgressive sexualities, and the creation of transnational moralities through HIV programmes. The proceedings have been published in the edited volume Strings Attached: AIDS and the Rise of Transnational Connections in 2014. For more details click here.

  • Population in the Human Sciences: Concepts, Models, Evidence, international workshop convened by Dr Philip Kreager together with colleagues in FRSG and the Institute of Human Sciences, and supported by the Wenner-Gren Foundation and the John Fell fund, September 2011. The proceedings have been published as Population in the Human Sciences: Concepts, Models, Evidence, ed. Philip Kreager, Bruce Winney, Stanley Ulijaszek and Cristian Capelli, Oxford University Press 2015.

  • Islam and the Biotechnologies of Human Life, held jointly with Yale University. In September 2009, FRSG, in conjunction with The MacMillan Centre’s Council on Middle East Studies (CMES), hosted an international, interdisciplinary conference on “Islam and the Biotechnologies of Human Life” at Yale University, September 18-20, 2009. The conference brought together scholars from the United States, Europe, and the Middle East to discuss the influence of Islamic attitudes on the practice of “assisted reproductive technologies” (ARTs), which are used to conceive human life in cases of intractable infertility. For details see The edited volume Islam and Assisted Reproductive Technologies (volume 23 in the FRSG book series) was published by Berghahn in 2012.

  • Obesity and Reproduction, held jointly with Sussex University at ISCA, October 2006. The contributions have been published by Berghahn in the edited volume Fatness and the Maternal Body (volume 22 in the FRSG book series) in 2011.

  • Bioethics, held jointly with Durham University at the Institute of Social and Cultural Anthropology (ISCA), June 2003.

  • Managing Reproductive Life, held in October 1999. Book comprised of this workshop's contributions was published in 2001 as the opening volume of the FRSG book series.


bottom of page