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Durham University

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Staff Profile

Dr Andrew J. Russell, BA, MA, D. Phil

Telephone: +44 (0) 191 33 43312
Telephone: +44 (0) 191 33 43312

(email at


I received my BA in Human Sciences from Oxford University in 1980. In 1984 I completed a Masters degree in Biomedical Anthropology at the University of Pennsylvania with a thesis about the controvery surrounding the use of Depo-Provera, an injectable contraceptive. After returning to the UK I moved to the Inner Hebrides where I worked as a senior desk officer for Project Trust, an educational charity sending school-leavers overseas to do voluntary work. I completed my DPhil at Oxford in 1992, based on fieldwork carried out in the hills of East Nepal amongst the Yakha, an ethnic group previously unstudied by anthropologists.

My current research primarily focuses on tobacco, its use and control. I am a founder member of the interdisciplinary Smoking Interest Group, a collaboration between the Medical Anthropology Research Group and the Centre for Medical Humanities. I work closely with colleagues in the UK Centre for Tobacco Control Studies and FUSE – the Centre for Translational Research in Public Health, as well as FRESH, the northeast of England’s tobacco control office. My research spans the following topics:

  • Phenomenology - understanding smoking as an embodied physical and emotional experience, taking seriously the aesthetic pleasure people who smoke derive from this activity.
  • Identity - how those who smoke, both long-term and recent, can feel themselves constituted in some way by their smoking.
  • Relationships - cigarettes as agents in multiplex relationships with the rest of the human and non-human world.
  • Spatial aspects – where smoking takes place and its consequential effects on the use and designation of space.
  • Temporal aspects - smoking punctuating time through significant daily, weekly and sometimes annual rituals and routines, decisions to start and to ‘quit’ through the life course, the notion of the ‘hardened smoker’, the experience and treatment of the acute and chronic illnesses that are associated with smoking.
  • Historical aspects - the changing landscape of tobacco, and the potential to view cigarettes as a historical aberration of late 19th and 20th century industrial capitalism.
  • Institutions - the institutional forms that arise from the production, distribution, use, attempts to control, and research tobacco.
  • Policy relevance - what the social scientific and humanities-derived perspectives outlined above might contribute to policy and therapeutic interventions not only in tobacco but other areas of public health.

I am happy to supervise students working on any branch of public health anthropology, chronic illness and engaged anthropology topics.

In my spare time I like to organise travel on the internet for myself, friends and family. I also enjoy walking, reading the papers in bed on Saturday mornings, exploring the wonderful north-east region, and going to the gym.

Teaching Achievements

I gained an award from the National Teaching Fellowship Scheme in 2010. My textbook for medical students, 'The Social Basis of Medicine', won the British Medical Association's student textbook of the year award in 2009. I also have a Durham Vice-Chancellor's Award for Excellence in Doctoral Supervision.

Research Groups

Department of Anthropology

Wolfson Research Institute for Health and Wellbeing

Research Projects

Department of Anthropology

  • Integrated Management of European Wetlands
  • Smoke Free North East Office: a model of good practice for England?

Department of Sociology

  • Making ends meet: action on sustainable livelihoods

Research Interests

  • Medical anthropology
  • Tobacco (its use and control)

Selected Publications

Authored book

  • Russell, A.J. (2019). Anthropology of Tobacco: Ethnographic Adventures in Non-human Worlds. Abingdon, Oxon: Routledge.
  • Russell, A.J. (2009). The Social Basis of Medicine. Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell.

Edited book

  • Russell, A. & Rahman, E. (2015). The Master Plant: Tobacco in Lowland South America. London, New York: Bloomsbury.
  • Russell, A.J., Sobo, E.J. & Thompson, M.S. (2000). Contraception Across Cultures: Technologies, Choices, Constraints. Cross-Cultural Research on Women. Oxford: Berg.
  • Edgar, I.R. & Russell, A.J. (1998). Anthropology of Welfare. London: Routledge.

Chapter in book

  • Russell, A.J. (2018). ‘“Imagine a World Without Tobacco”. Utopian visions and collaborative research in public health’. In Utopian Encounters: Anthropologies of Empirical Utopias. Blanes, Ruy & Maskens, Maité Oxford: Peter Lang. 20: 57-90.
  • Russell, A. (2018). Tobacco. In The International Encyclopedia of Anthropology. Callan, H. Wiley. 934.
  • Russell, A. (2015). Women and smoking in the North East of England. In Tipping Points: Modelling Social Problems and Health. Bissell, J., Caiado, C., Curtis, S., Goldstein, M. & Straughan, B. Chichester, West Sussex: Wiley. 32-48.
  • Russell, A.J. (2011). Interprofessional Healthcare as Intercultural Experience - Early Years Training for Medical Students. In Sociology of Interprofessional Health Care Practice: Critical Reflections and Concrete Solutions. Kitto, S., Chesters, J., Thistlethwaite, J. & Reeves, S. Hauppauge, NY: Nova Science. 139-153.
  • Russell, A.J. (2010). Perceptions of forests among the Yakkha of East Nepal: exploring the social and cultural context. In Culture and the Environment in the Himalaya. Guneratne, A. London: Routledge. 61-78.
  • Russell, A. (2008). Nationalism and Ethnicity in a Hindu Kingdom: the Politics of Culture in Contemporary Nepal. In Nationalism and Ethnicity in Nepal. Gellner, D., Pfaff-Czarnecka, J. & Whelpton, J. Kathmandu: Vajra Books.
  • Russell, A.J. (2008). The meanings of ghar-bāri: Eating and Aesthetics in East Nepal. In Homegardens. Heckler, S. Oxford: Berghahn.
  • Russell, A.J. (2004). Travelling Cultures: Study Tours in the Social Anthropological Curriculum and Beyond. In Current Policies and Practices in European Social Anthropology Education. Edgar, I. R. & Drackle, D. Oxford: Berghahn. EASA series, volume 2.: 193-207.
  • Russell, A.J. (2001). Teenage Pregnancy and the Moral Geography of Teesside, U.K. In Managing Reproductive Life: Cross-Cultural Themes in Sexuality and Fertility. Tremayne, S. Oxford: Berghahn. Fertility, Reproduction and Sexuality 1: 221-234.
  • Russell, A.J. (2000). Breaking Bones: Political Eruptions and Social Ruptures in Nepal, 1989-1990. In Electoral Politics in South Asia. Basu, S. & Das, S. Calcutta: K.P. Bagchi. Department of History Monograph 18.
  • Russell, A.J. (1999). Taking Care? The Depo-Provera Debate. In Extending the Boundaries of Care: Medical Ethics and Caring Practices. Kohn, T. & McKechnie, R. Oxford: Berg. 65-88.
  • Russell, A.J. (1997). Identity Management and Cultural Change: Religion and Politics Amongst the Yakha. In Nationalism and Ethnicity in a Hindu Kingdom: the Politics of Culture in Contemporary Nepal. Gellner, D., Pfaff-Czarnecka, J. & Whelpton, J. Reading: Harwood Publishers. 325-350.

Journal Article

  • Oxley, Rebecca & Russell, Andrew (2020). Interdisciplinary Perspectives on Breath, Body and World. Body & Society 26(2): 3-29.
  • Russell, Andrew (2018). Can the plant speak? Giving tobacco the voice it deserves. Journal of Material Culture 23(4): 472-487.
  • Russell, A., Wainwright, M. & Tilson, M. (2018). Means and ENDS – e-cigarettes, the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, and global health diplomacy in action. Global Public Health 13(1): 83-98.
  • Russell, Andrew (2017). Smog in a time of tobacco control. Anthropology Today 33(6): 27-29.
  • Norman, A.H., Russell, A.J. & Merli, C. (2016). The Quality and Outcomes Framework: Body commodification in UK General Practice. Social Science & Medicine 170: 77-86.
  • Maatz, A., Wainwright, M., Russell, A., Macnaughton, J. & Yiannakou, Y. (2016). What’s ‘difficult’? A multi-stage qualitative analysis of secondary care specialists’ experiences with medically unexplained symptoms. Journal of Psychosomatic Research 90: 1-9.
  • Russell, A.J., Wainwright, M. & Mamudu, H.M. (2015). A chilling example? Uruguay, Phillip Morris International, and WHO's Framework Convention on Tobacco Control. Medical Anthropology Quarterly 29(2): 256-277.
  • Russell, A. & Lewis, S. (2015). Documenting Impact: An Impact Case Study of Anthropological Collaboration in Tobacco Control. Anthropology in Action 22(2): 14-23.
  • Macnaughton, J., Carro-Ripalda, S. & Russell, A. (2012). ‘Risking enchantment’ how are we to view the smoking person? Critical Public Health 22(4): 455-469.
  • Raw, A., Lewis, S., Russell, A. & Macnaughton, J. (2012). A Hole in the Heart: confronting the drive for evidence-based impact research in arts in health. Arts & Health, an International Journal for Research, Policy & Practice 4(2): 97-108.
  • Lewis, S. & Russell, A. (2011). Being Embedded: A way forward for ethnographic research. Ethnography 12(3): 398-416.
  • Wainwright, M., Russell, A. & Yiannakou, Y. (2011). Challenging the Biopsychosocial Model in a Chronic Constipation Clinic. Qualitative Health Research 21(12): 1643-1657.
  • Naraghi, K., Booth, M., Russell, A.J. & van Laar, J.M. (2011). Determination of smoking status of rheumatoid arthritis patients by means of a self-reported questionnaire and serum cotinine assay: a cross-sectional study. Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases
  • Wainwright, M. & Russell, A. (2010). Using NVivo Audio-Coding: Practical, Sensorial and Epistemological Considerations. Social Research Update (60): 1-4.
  • Lewis, S., Russell, A., Holland, L., Heckler, S., Hunter, D.J., White, M., Chappel, D.B. & Mason, J.M. (2009). A local alliance toolkit for tobacco control: an example of research into action. Evidence and Policy
  • Russell, A., Heckler, S., White, M., Sengupta, S., Chappel, D., Hunter, D.J., Mason, J., Milne, E. & Lewis, S. (2009). The evolution of a UK regional tobacco control office in its early years: social contexts and policy dynamics. Health Promotion International 24(3): 262-268.
  • Heckler, S. & Russell, A. (2008). Emotional Engagement in Strategic Partnerships: grassroots organising in a tobacco control partnership in the North East of England. Evidence and Policy 4(4): 331-354.
  • Russell, A.J. (2007). Anthropology and Ecotourism in European Wetlands: Bubbles, Babies and Bathwater. Tourist Studies 7(2): 225-244.
  • Russell, A.J. (2007). Writing Traveling Cultures – Travel and Ethnography amongst the Yakkha of East Nepal. Ethnos 72(3): 361-382.
  • Russell, A.J., White, V.A.A. & Landes, D.P. (2006). Young Offenders’ Perceptions and Expectations of Dental Health Services in the North East of England: a Qualitative Study. International Journal of Prisoner Health 2(4): 281-289.
  • Wallace, G. & Russell, A. (2004). Eco-Cultural Tourism: as a means for the sustainable development of culturally marginal and environmentally sensitive regions. Tourist Studies 4(3): 235-254.
  • Russell, A.J. & Wallace, G. (2004). Irresponsible Ecotourism. Anthropology Today 20(3): 1-2.
  • Russell, A.J., van Teijlingen, E., Lambert, H. & Stacy, R. (2004). Social and Behavioural Science Education in UK Medical Schools: Current Practice and Future Directions. Medical Education 38(4): 409-417.
  • Russell, A.J. (2004). Traditions in transition: Sanskritization and Yakkhafication in East Nepal. History and Anthropology 15(3): 251-261.
  • Hungin, A.P.S., Chinn, D.J., Convery, B., Dean, C., Cornford, C.S. & Russell, A. (2003). The prescribing and follow-up of domiciliary oxygen whose responsibility? A survey of prescribing from primary care. British Journal of General Practice 53(494): 714-715.
  • Montag, D., Panter-Brick, C. & Russell, A.J. (2002). Anthropology and the Health of Populations - global trends and local contexts. British Journal of General Practice 52(481): 691-691.
  • Russell, A.J. (2000). The Missing and the Met: Routing Clifford amongst the Yakha in Nepal and NE India. Journeys 1: 86-113.
  • Russell, A.J., Dougall, A., Rubin, G. & Ling, J. (1999). Rethinking Patient Satisfaction: Patient Experiences of an Open Access Flexible Sigmoidoscopy Service. Social Science and Medicine 50(1): 53-62.

Book review

  • Russell, A. (2011). Review of G. Mathews and C. Izquierdo (2009) (eds) ‘Pursuits of Happiness: Well-Being in Anthropological Perspective’. Medical Anthropology Quarterly 25(4): 543-545.

Conference Proceeding

  • Russell, A.J., van Teijlingen, E., Lambert, H. & Stacy, R. (2002). Social and Behavioural Sciences in Medical Education. Report on a Workshop held on 27-28 June 2002. University of Durham, Department of Anthropology.

Newspaper/Magazine Article

  • Russell, A.J. & Brierley-Jones, L. (2009). Supporting early years community based learning. LTSN-01 Newsletter (Spring): 8-9.

Other (Print)

  • Brierley-Jones, L.K. & Russell, A.J. (2009). Supporting students' writing for community-based learning. Medical Teacher


  • Bell, S. et al (2005). Integrated Management of European Wetlands. Brussels, European Union.

Show all publications

Media Contacts

Available for media contact about:

  • Health & welfare services: health, well-being & welfare
  • Health & Welfare: Tobacco control
  • Drink & drugs: Tobacco control
  • Public policy, health and well-being: Tobacco control