- Professor Alexander Edmonds
- Professor of Social and Medical Anthropology
- 18 Buccleuch Place Edinburgh UK EH8 9LD
- +44 (0)131 650 9920
- Research Interests
- Anthropology of health and medicine, War veterans, Mental health, Military cultures, Military psychiatry, Plastic surgery, gender and beauty, Health and international development, Ethnicity and race
Alexander Edmonds is an anthropologist specialising in the sociocultural dimensions of health, illness and medicine. His research has investigated plastic surgery; mental health; military veterans; psychiatric and psychological practice; and health in international development. Regionally, he's worked in Brazil, the United States, and the United Kingdom.
Edmonds was a Woodrow Wilson Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of California, Los Angeles and currently holds a second appointment at the Centre for Social Science and Global Health at the University of Amsterdam. He earned a BA with distinction in philosophy and religion from Stanford and a PhD with distinction in anthropology from Princeton.
His current work is a comparative, anthropological study of combat veterans' reintegration and mental health. Carried out in four countries (the US, UK, Netherlands, and Israel) it examines how participants navigate the diverse military, healthcare, and sociocultural environments they face during and after military service. It is funded by a five-year “Starting Grant” from the European Research Council.
Edmonds has also researched the sociocultural dimensions of plastic surgery, beauty and medical enhancement technologies. Awarded multiple prizes, his book, Pretty Modern: Beauty, Sex and Plastic Surgery in Brazil, examines how a nation with extremes of wealth and poverty became a global leader in cosmetic surgery.
His work has been supported by the Social Science Research Council, the Woodrow Wilson Society at Princeton, the European Union 7th Framework Program, and the Andrew Mellon Foundation.
He has written about his research for media, including the New York Times, and been interviewed about his work by BBC radio, the Associated Press, and other international news outlets (see below for links).
2010. Pretty Modern: Beauty, Sex and Plastic Surgery in Brazil. Durham: Duke University Press. Awarded the Diana Forsythe Prize; the Eileen Basker Prize; the Sharon Stephens Prize, honorable mention; and the Roberto Reis prize, honorable mention.
Read the introduction to Pretty Modern
Journal articles and book chapters (selected)
Edmonds, A. 2017. "Fleshly Beauty." in S. Bunn (ed.) The Routledge Handbook on Anthropology and Beauty. London: Routledge.
Edmonds, A and Mears, A. 2017. "Managing Body Capital." In E. Anderson-Fye and A. Brewis Slade (eds.) Fat Planet. Santa Fe: SAR Press.
Edmonds, A. 2016 “Does Sgt Pearson have PTSD?” In L. Manderson, A. Hardon and E. Cartwright (eds). Medical Anthropology in the 21st Century. New York: Routledge.
Edmonds, A (w. Nelson E, Ballestros M, Ecalada Soto D, Rodriguez O.) 2014. The Unintended Consequences of Sex Education: An Ethnography of a Development Intervention in Latin America. Anthropology & Medicine. 21(2):189-201.
Edmonds, A and E. Sanabria. 2014. Medical Borderlands: Engineering the Body with Plastic Surgery and Hormonal Therapies in Brazil. Anthropology & Medicine. 21(2):202-16.
Edmonds, A. 2014. Surgery-for-Life: Aging, Sexual Fitness and Self-Management in Brazil. Anthropology & Aging Quarterly 2014: 34 (4)
Edmonds, A. 2013. Can Medicine be Aesthetic? Disentangling Beauty and Health in Elective Surgeries. Medical Anthropology Quarterly 27(2):233-52.
Edmonds, A. 2013. The Biological Subject of Aesthetic Medicine. Feminist Theory 14(1):65-82.
Edmonds, A. 2012. A Right to Beauty. Anthropology Now 4(1):3-9
Edmonds, A. 2012. Body Image in Non-Western Societies. The Encyclopedia of Body Image and Human Appearance. T. Cash (ed.) Elsevier. pp.238-242.
Edmonds, A. 2011. “Almost Invisible Scars”: Medical Tourism to Brazil. Signs 36 (2):297-302.
Edmonds, A. 2009. Learning to Love Yourself: Esthetics, Health and Therapeutics in Brazilian Plastic Surgery. Ethnos 74(4):465-489. (Awarded David Edge Prize by the Society for Social Studies of Science)
Edmonds, A. 2009. 'Engineering the Erotic': Aesthetic Medicine and Modernization in Brazil. In C. Heyes and M. Jones (eds.) Cosmetic Surgery: A Feminist Primer, pp. 153-169. Farnham, UK: Ashgate.
Edmonds, A. 2008. Beauty and Health: Anthropological Perspectives. Medische Antropologie 20(1):151-162.
Edmonds, A. 2007. 'The Poor Have the Right to be Beautiful': Cosmetic Surgery in Neoliberal Brazil. Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute 13(2): 363-381.
Edmonds, A. 2007. 'Triumphant Miscegenation': Reflections on Race and Beauty in Brazil. Journal of Intercultural Communication 28(1): 83-97.
Edmonds, A. 2002. No Universo da Beleza. ("In the Universe of Beauty") In M. Goldenberg (ed.) Nus & Vestidos. Rio de Janeiro: Record.
Teaching and research supervision
Edmonds has taught courses and supervises theses on medical anthropology, military studies, mental health and emotion, visual anthropology, international development, reproduction and sexuality, and the ethnography of Brazil and Latin America.
Media (selected articles and interviews)
Read Edmonds' article, "A Necessary Vanity," in the New York Times.
Read "5000 Jahre Patriarchat" ("5000 years of patriarchy"), an anthropological discussion of the #MeToo movement in the Swiss newspaper, Blik (in German).
Read “La Beauté pour Tous” ("The right to beauty") in the Courrier International (in French).
Listen to roundtable discussion on vanity on the BBC World Service programme, "The Forum"
Listen to interview on BBC radio 4, “Thinking Allowed”
Listen to interview on BBC radio 4 programme, "A History of Ideas" (5:40 minutes into the programme)
If you are interested in being supervised by Alexander Edmonds, please see the links below for more information: