Dr Anna Lavis MA, MSc, MRes, PhD

Dr Anna Lavis

Institute of Applied Health Research
Lecturer in Medical Sociology and Qualitative Methods

Contact details

Address
Room 139, The Learning Centre
Institute of Applied Health Research
College of Medical and Dental Sciences
University of Birmingham
Edgbaston
Birmingham
B15 2TT
UK

An anthropologist by background, Anna Lavis is a Lecturer in Medical Sociology and Qualitative Methods in the Medical Sociology, Ethics and History Group (MESH), Institute of Applied Health Research. 

Her work focuses on day-to-day intimacies and complexities of life with mental illness and distress. Specifically, she conducts applied qualitative research into lived experiences of psychosis and eating disorders, with particular emphases on women's experiences, social media, materialities, and concepts of care. She has presented and published across the social and medical sciences and is involved in a number of interdisciplinary research collaborations both across the university and externally. 

Anna teaches on various programmes, covering topics in qualitative methods and medical sociology, as well as undertaking doctoral supervision. She is also the MESH representative on the Postgraduate Research Committee. Anna accepts invitations for teaching externally in the UK and abroad. 

Qualifications

  • PhD Medical Anthropology: Goldsmiths, University of London, 2011.
  • MRes Medical Anthropology and Research Methods: Goldsmiths, University of London, 2006.
  • MSc Social Anthropology: University College London, 2003.
  • BA European and Middle Eastern Languages: University of Oxford, 2002 (MA, 2013)

Biography

After completing a BA in Modern Languages at the University of Oxford, Anna went on to study for an MSc in Social Anthropology at University College London. She then worked at Great Ormond Street Hospital, undertaking a range of administrative and research tasks, before beginning a doctorate in Medical Anthropology at Goldsmiths, University of London. 

Anna’s PhD thesis (awarded December 2011, no corrections) drew on ethnographic fieldwork in an English eating disorders inpatient unit and on pro-anorexia websites to investigate pro-anorexia. It was funded by an Economic and Social Research Council studentship and won the 2010 Radcliffe-Brown Sutasoma award from the Royal Anthropological Institute. 

In 2011 Anna was offered an honorary research position in the Institute of Social and Cultural Anthropology, University of Oxford, with a particular affiliation with the Unit for Biocultural Variation and Obesity. 

After joining the University of Birmingham in 2012 as a Research Fellow working on lived experiences of psychosis through the Supereden study (2010-2015), Anna became a lecturer in 2015. 

Teaching

Postgraduate supervision

Anna is interested in supervising doctoral research students in the following areas:

  • Individuals’ experiences of illness and caregiving
  • Qualitative (especially ethnographic) methods applied to evaluating care practices, policies and services
  • Women’s mental health
  • Social Media and mental health
  • Homelessness and mental health 
  • Qualitative (especially ethnographic) research into any area related to mental health, illness or distress 
  • Anorexia and/or other eating disorders
  • Psychosis
  • Self-harm

If you are interesting in studying any of these subject areas please contact Anna on the contact details above, or for any general doctoral research enquiries, please email: dr@contacts.bham.ac.uk or call +44 (0)121 414 5005

Research

Primary Research Topics: 

  • Lived experiences of mental ill-health and distress
  • Eating and eating disorders
  • Psychosis and voice hearing experiences
  • Concepts and practices of care
  • Materialities of illness and caregiving 

Recent/Ongoing Grants: 

Network funding (University of Oxford): Co-I with Karin Eli, ‘Body and Being Network, ’July 2014-February 2016. 

UK (NIHR) Programme Grant: ‘SUPEREDEN (Sustaining Positive Engagement and Recovery)’, 2010-2016. CI: Birchwood (Warwick); PIs: Lester (Qualitative Lead until deceased 2012); Lavis (Qualitative Lead, 2012-2015), Freemantle (UCL), Amos (Bristol), Fowler (UEA), Hodgekins (UEA), Jones (Cambridge), Marshall (Manchester), Sharma (Chester), Larsen (Rethink), McCrone (King’s), Singh (Warwick), Smith (Worcester). Programme Manager: Linda Everard (BSMHFT). 

National School of Primary Care Research, Partner Grant. ‘Women’s Lived Experiences of a First Episode of Psychosis (FEP): A Qualitative Analysis of the Influence of Gender on Day-to-Day Experiences of FEP and Related Healthcare Needs,’ 2013-2015. CI: Lavis. Co-Is: Greenfield (Birmingham), Everard (BSMHFT), Amos (Bristol), Birchwood (Warwick). Collaborators: Boydell (Sydney). 

Visiting Academic Grant (University of Toronto and Hospital for Sick Kids, Toronto), December 2014. 

CLAHRC Service Theme 2: ‘Understanding Risk Factors for the Development of Eating Disorders: A Qualitative Study,’ 2013-2015.CI: Birchwood (Warwick). Co-I’s: Lavis (Qualitative Lead), Leung (BSMHFT), Connor (BSMHFT). 

CLAHRC Service Theme 2: ‘Schoolspace: Screening for Eating Disorders in schools: a feasibility study.’ 2014-2017. CI: Birchwood (Warwick), Co-Is: Connor (BSMHFT), Lavis (Qualitative Lead), Leung (BSMHFT). 

Other activities

  • Recent Keynotes: 

2015, Eating Disorders, Social Media and Digital Technology Workshop.
‘Anorexia Online: Ethnographic Explorations and Clinical Implications.’ 

2013, CAMHS Conference 2013 - Children and Young People’s Mental Health. University of Northampton.
‘‘Just Keep Going Forwards Rather than Backwards:’ Listening to the Voices of Carers of Young People with First-Episode Psychosis in an Age of Austerity.’ 

2012, 4th Qualitative Research in Mental Health Conference. University of Nottingham.
‘Spotlights and Shadows: Exploring the Day-to-Day Experiences of Carers of Young People with First Episode Psychosis.’ 

  • Selected Recent and upcoming talks: 

2016, Association of Social Anthropologists Conference 2016, University of Durham. ‘'Quietly Starving': Desire, Temporality and Recovery in Anorexia.’ 

2015: Theorizing the Body in Health and Medicine Workshop, Maastricht University.
‘Body and Being in Anorexia: Experiential Intersections of Culture, Medicine, and the Senses’ (with Karin Eli). 

2015: Institute of Social and Cultural Anthropology, University of Oxford.
‘Anorexia as Self-Care: Desire, Stasis and (Not) Eating.’ 

2015, European Meeting on Women's Mental Health: Psychosis and Gender, Barcelona. ‘Women’s Experiences of First Episode Psychosis: From Individual Narratives to Gender-Appropriate Services’ (with Lisa Moody, Sara Clayton, Linda Everard, Max Birchwood). 

2015, Institute of Social and Cultural Anthropology, University of Oxford.
‘Medical Anthropology Seminar Series, invited paper: Coexistence, Gambling and Inbetweeness: Exploring Lived Experiences of Anti-psychotic Medications’ 

2015, 2nd Food ‘Stuffs:’ Exploring the Materialities of Foods, their Artefacts and their Environments Conference, University of Wales Trinity Saint David.
‘Imagined Materialities and Material Imaginings: Foods, Bodies and the ‘Stuff’ of (Not) Eating.’ 

2014, University of Toronto.
‘Anti-Psychotics as ‘A Worthwhile Gamble’? Engaging with the Views of Young People with First Episode Psychosis on Medications and Physical Health.’ 

2014, American Anthropological Association Annual Conference.
‘Anthropological Perspectives on Eating Disorders: Exploring (Not) Eating.’ 

2014, 9th International Conference on Early Psychosis – To The New Horizon.
‘Anti-Psychotics as ‘a worthwhile gamble’? Engaging with the Views of Service Users with First Episode Psychosis on Physical Health and Healthcare’ (with Linda Everard, Max Birchwood). 

2014, 9th International Conference on Early Psychosis – To The New Horizon.
‘Women’s Experiences of First Episode Psychosis: From Individual Narratives to Gender-Appropriate Services’ (with Lisa Moody, Sara Clayton, Linda Everard, Max Birchwood).

2014, NSPCR Showcase, Oxford University.
‘Women’s Experiences of Psychosis: What do General Practitioners Need to Know? A Qualitative Analysis of the Influence of Gender on Day-to-Day Experiences of Psychosis and Related Healthcare Needs’ (with Lisa Moody, Sara Clayton, Linda Everard, Max Birchwood). 

2014, Food ‘Stuffs’ Exploring the Materialities of Foods, their Artefacts and their Environments Conference, University of Wales Trinity Saint David.
‘Pro-anorexia, Food Porn and Media(ted) Materialities: The ‘Stuff’ of Eating and Starving in Cyberspace.’ 

2013, 2nd International Conference on Youth Mental Health, Brighton.
‘Layers of Listening: Exploring the Lived Experiences of Carers of Young People with First-Episode Psychosis in English Early Intervention Services’ (with Linda Everard, Max Birchwood). 

2013, The British Sociological Association Medical Sociology Group 45th Annual Conference, University of York.
'A worthwhile Gamble', Not-Yetness and Anti-Psychotics: Listening to Service Users' Views of the Physical Healthcare of Individuals with Severe Mental Illness’ (with Helen Lester, Linda Everard, Max Birchwood). 

2013, The European Association of Social Anthropologists Medical Anthropology Network Conference, Tarragona, Spain. 
‘Engrossing Encounters: Materialities and Metaphors of Fat in the Lived Experiences of Individuals with Anorexia.’ 

May 2013, The 1st Annual Weight Stigma Conference, 2013, University of Birmingham. 
‘Supersize vs Superskinny: Weight Stigma at the Intersections of Public Health and Televisual Entertainment’ (with Karin Eli). 

2013, Department of Psychology, University of Birmingham. 
‘The Physical Healthcare of Individuals with First Episode Psychosis: What do Service Users Think?’ (with Helen Lester, Linda Everard, Max Birchwood).         

2012, Institute of Social and Cultural Anthropology, University of Oxford. 
‘Supersize Versus Superskinny’: From Abjection to Redemption’ (with Karin Eli). 

2012, Society for Academic Primary Care (SAPC) 41st Annual Conference, Glasgow.
‘‘Behind the Scenes’:  Enhancing GPs’ Understandings of the Experiences of Carers of Young People with First Episode Psychosis’ (with Helen Lester, Linda Everard, Max Birchwood). 

2012, The British Sociological Association Medical Sociology Group 44th Annual Conference, University of Leicester.
‘The Days Just Seemed like Huge Voids’: Subjectivities and Uses of Time among Caregivers of Individuals Affected by a First Episode of Psychosis’ (with Helen Lester, Linda Everard, Max Birchwood). 

2012, 12th European Association of Social Anthropologists (EASA) Biennial Conference.
‘Enforced Materialisations and Intangible Materialities: Exploring Conceptualisations of Eating in Anorexia and its Treatment.’ 

2012, 3rd British Sociological Association (BSA) Food Study Group Conference, London.
‘The Substance of Absence: Eating and/in Anorexia.’ 

  • Recent and Upcoming Conferences/Workshops/Panels Convened: 

2016, Association of Social Anthropologists Conference 2016, University of Durham. Panel: ‘Anthropology of Mental Health: at the Intersections of Transience, 'Chronicity' and Recovery’ (co-convened with Karin Eli) 

2014- 2016: An ongoing series of Public Engagement Workshops and Performances as part of the ‘Body and Being Network,’ (co-convened with Karin Eli) 

2013, King’s College London, in collaboration with Tipping Point: ‘Energising the Creative Response to Climate Change: Politics, Materialities and Representations of the Body,’ (co-convened with Mike Goodman and Emma-Jayne Abbots) 

2012, British Sociological Association Food and Society Conference
Closing Panel: ‘Turning Attention to Eating: Exploring the Theoretical Terrain of Body/Food Encounters in Contemporary Society,’ (co-convened with Emma-Jane Abbots) 

2011, Goldsmiths, University of London.
Conference: ‘Why We Eat How We Eat: Food Choices, Nutrition and the Politics of Eating,’ (co-convened with Emma-Jane Abbots). 

  • Further Activities: 

Reviewer for a number of bodies and journals, including:
National Institute for Health Research (NIHR); Routledge Publishers; British Journal of Psychiatry; American Ethnologist; Qualitative Health Research; Transcultural Psychiatry; Sociology of Health and Illness; New Media and Society; Medical Anthropology Quarterly; International Journal of Eating Disorders; Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication; Food and Foodways; Anthropology and Medicine; Gastronomica; M/C Journal of Media and Culture. 

Research Associate, Institute of Social and Cultural Anthropology, University of Oxford (2011- ongoing); Associate Member, Unit for Biocultural Variation and Obesity, University of Oxford (2011-ongoing) 

Lead facilitator (with Linda Everard, BSMHFT) of a Lived Experiences Advisory Panel of young people who have been treated for first episode psychosis by Early Intervention Services. The LEAP was highlighted in October 2013 by the MHRN as a particularly successful example of patient involvement in research: http://www.mhrn.info/data/files/MHRN_PUBLICATIONS/Stand_alone_Super_EDEN 

Co-founder, with Karin Eli (University of Oxford), of the Body and Being Network. This creates public events by developing dialogues about the body among social and medical scientists and performance artists. http://bodyandbeingnetwork.org Twitter: @bodyandbeingnet.

Publications

• As an Editor

Eli, K. and Lavis, A. (March 2016) ‘Corporeal’. Special Issue of M/C Journal of Media and Culture

Abbots, E-J., Lavis A. and Attala, L. (Eds.) (2015) Careful Eating: Bodies, Food and Care. Ashgate.

Abbots, E-J & Lavis, A. (Eds.) (2013) Why We Eat, How We Eat: Contemporary Encounters Between Foods and Bodies. Ashgate

• As an Author (recent)

Lavis, A. (forthcoming, 2016) Not Eating or Tasting Other Ways of Living: A Qualitative Analysis of Individuals' Accounts of Living Through Anorexia. Transcultural Psychiatry

Lavis, A. (in press, 2016) Imagined materialities and material imaginings: food, bodies, and the “stuff” of (not) eating in anorexia. Gastronomica

Lavis, A. (March 2016) A desire for anorexia: living through distress. Medicine Anthropology Theory

Lavis, A. Lester, H., Everard, L., Freemantle, N., Amos, T., Fowler, D., Hodgekins, J., Jones, P., Marshall, M., Sharma, V., Larsen, J., McCrone, P., Singh, S., Smith, J. and Birchwood, M. (2015) Layers of listening: a qualitative analysis of the impact of early intervention services for first-episode psychosis on carers’ experiences. British Journal of Psychiatry, 207(2), 135-142

Lavis, A. (2015) Food porn, pro-anorexia and the viscerality of virtual affect: exploring eating in cyberspace. Geoforum, eprint before pub.

Lavis, A. (2015) Consuming (through) the Other? Rethinking fat and eating in BBW videos online. M/C, Journal of Media and Culture, 18(3), n.p.

Lavis, A. (2015) Jumping to blame social media for eating disorders is dangerous. The Conversation (https://theconversation.com/jumping-to-blame-social-media-for-eating-disorders-is-dangerous-42777)

Lavis, A. (2015) Careful starving: exploring (not) eating, care and anorexia. In Abbots, E-J., Lavis A. and Attala, L. (Eds.) Careful Eating: Bodies, Food and Care. Ashgate.

Lavis, A. Abbots, E-J., and Attala, L. (2015) Reflecting on the embodied intersections of eating and caring. In Abbots, E-J., Lavis A. and Attala, L. (Eds.) Careful Eating: Bodies, Food and Care. Ashgate.

Connor, C., Greenfield, S., Channa, S., Palmer, C., Barker, C. Lavis, A. Birchwood, M. (2014) Seeking help for first-episode psychosis: a family narrative. Early Intervention in Psychiatry, eprint before publication.

Lavis, A. (2014) Alarming engagements? Pro-anorexia website in/and the media. In Eli, K. & Ulijaszek, S. (Eds.) Sound Bites: Media Representations of Obesity and Eating Disorders. Ashgate

Eli, K. & Lavis, A. (2014) From abject eating to abject being: representations of obesity in ‘Supersize vs. Superskinny’. In Eli, K. & Ulijaszek, S. (Eds.) Sound Bites: Media Representations of Obesity and Eating Disorders. Ashgate

Lavis, A. (2014) Engrossing encounters: materialities and metaphors of fat in the lived experiences of individuals with anorexia. In Forth, C. and Leitch, A. (Eds.) Fat: Culture and Materiality. Berg

Birchwood, M., Lester, H. E., McCarthy, L., Jones, P., Fowler, D., Amos, T., Freemantle, N., Sharma, V., Lavis, A. Singh, S. and Marshall, M. (2014) The UK national evaluation of the development and impact of Early Intervention Services (The National Eden Studies): study rationale, design and baseline characteristics, Early Intervention in Psychiatry, 8, 1: 59-67.

Abbots, E-J & Lavis, A. (2013) Contours of eating: mapping the terrain of body/food encounters. In Abbots, E-J. & Lavis, A. (Eds.) Why We Eat, How We Eat: Contemporary Encounters Between Foods and Bodies. Ashgate

Lavis, A. (2013) The substance of absence: exploring eating and anorexia. In Abbots, E-J. & Lavis, A. (Eds.) Why We Eat, How We Eat: Contemporary Encounters Between Foods and Bodies. Ashgate