Amy McLennan

Research Associate, Institute of Social and Cultural Anthropology

Amy is an academic researcher and policy analyst. She is driven by the view that collaborative work which crosses ‘traditional’ boundaries is vital for understanding and addressing today’s major global health issues. Her background reflects this view; she has academic training in biomedical sciences, social sciences and French language, and professional experience in the academic, policy and private sectors.

Her research to date has broadly focused on food, nutrition, health, human ecology, obesity and diabetes. She has methodological expertise in qualitative approaches, including long-term ethnographic fieldwork, participant observation, narrative elicitation and analysis, life history interviewing, community consultations, biocultural approaches, and the investigation of historical material.

Amy’s doctoral research focused on rapid and extreme obesity emergence in Nauru. She used detailed qualitative approaches to trace how the Nauruan way of life had changed over the twentieth century, and showed how broad social, cultural, political and economic changes were related to changing food practices and nutritional health. This has implications for how we understand, investigate and address population health concerns such as obesity. She maintains ongoing research in these areas, as well as developing innovative collaborative work with researchers based in anatomy, network modelling and global health governance.

She continues to teach some medical anthropology and qualitative methods, and is involved in ongoing collaborative research with colleagues based in anatomical science, network modelling, health policy and environmental sustainability.


Recent Relevant Publications: 

(2017) Beguerisse-Díaz M, McLennan AK, Garduño-Hernández G, Barahona M, Ulijaszek SJ. The ‘who’ and ‘what’ of #diabetes on Twitter. Digital Health 3: 1-29.

(2017) McLennan AK. Local food, imported food, and the failures of community gardening initiatives in Nauru. In: Wilson M (ed.) Postcolonialism, Indigeneity and Struggles for Food Sovereignty: Alternative Food Networks in Postcolonial Spaces. London: Routledge.

(2016) Ulijaszek SJ & McLennan AK. Framing obesity in UK policy from the Blair years, 1997-2015: the persistence of individualistic approaches despite overwhelming evidence of societal and economic factors, and the need for collective responsibility. Obesity Reviews 17(5): 397-411.

(2016) Ulijaszek SJ, McLennan AK, Graff HM. Conceptualizing ecobiosocial interactions: lessons from obesity. In: Singer M (ed) A Companion to the Anthropology of Environmental Health. New York: Wiley Blackwell.

(2015) McLennan AK. Bringing everyday life into the study of ‘lifestyle diseases’. Lessons from an ethnographic investigation of obesity emergence in Nauru. Journal of the Anthropological Society of Oxford 7(3): 286-301.

(2015) McLennan AK & Ulijaszek SJ. Editorial: An anthropological insight into the Pacific Island obesity crisis and its clinical implications. Diabetes Management 5(3): 143-145.

(2014) McLennan AK & Ulijaszek SJ. Obesity emergence in the Pacific islands: why understanding colonial history and social change is important. Public Health Nutrition 18(8): 1499–1505.

Chapters in edited volumes

(2014) McLennan AK, Ulijaszek SJ, Eli K. Social aspects of dietary sugars. In: Goran MI, Tappy L, Lê K-A (eds) Dietary Sugars and Health: From Biology to Policy. Abingdon: Taylor and Francis / CRC Press.