- Professor Alexander Edmonds
- Professor of Social and Medical Anthropology
- Social AnthropologySchool of Social and Political ScienceUniversity of Edinburgh
- Chrystal Macmillan Building 15a George Square Edinburgh UK EH8 9LD
- +44 (0)131 650 9920
- Research Interests
- Medical anthropology; plastic surgery and beauty; military cultures; international development; race; visual anthropology; mental health and psychological expertise
Alexander Edmonds conducts ethnographic fieldwork in urban Brazil and in the United States. A major focus of his research is therapeutic work on the self and body in consumer societies. Prior to coming to Edinburgh he was associate professor at the University of Amsterdam and currently holds a secondary appointment there at the Centre for Social Science and Global Health. He was also a Woodrow Wilson Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of California, Los Angeles. Edmonds earned a BA with distinction in philosophy and religion from Stanford and a PhD with distinction in anthropology from Princeton.
His book, Pretty Modern: Beauty, Sex and Plastic Surgery in Brazil, explores the commercial, erotic and intimate aspects of beauty in a multiracial nation with extremes of wealth and poverty. Pretty Modern was awarded the Diana Forsythe prize from the American Anthropological Association, the Eileen Basker Memorial prize from the Society for Medical Anthropology, and honorable mention in the Sharon Stevens prize from the American Ethnological Society. His research in Brazil also received the David Edge prize for best journal article in science and technology studies.
His current work is with military veterans. Focusing on the United States, Israel and the Netherlands, this project is a comparative study of psychological health, resilience and reintegration after combat. It also examines the development of clinical reasoning on war syndromes over the last decade. This research is funded by a five-year “Starting Grant” from the European Research Council. His other 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.
Edmonds has written about his research for news media, including the New York Times series on philosophy, “The Stone.” He has been interviewed about his work by BBC Radio 4, the Associated Press, and other media outlets in Europe and the Americas.
2010. Pretty Modern: Beauty, Sex and Plastic Surgery in Brazil. Durham: Duke University Press.
Read the introduction to Pretty Modern
Journal articles and book chapters (selected)
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)
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 M. Goldenberg (ed.) Nus & Vestidos. Rio de Janeiro: Record.
Teaching and research supervision
Edmonds has taught courses and supervises theses on medical anthropology, mental health and emotion, visual anthropology, international development, reproduction and sexuality, and the ethnography of Brazil and Latin America.
Read 'A Necessary Vanity.' The New York Times.
Read “La beauté pour tous.” Courrier International
Listen to interview on BBC Radio 4, “Thinking Allowed”
If you are interested in being supervised by Alexander Edmonds, please see the links below for more information: