Cannell, Fenella

Dr Fenella Cannell  


Position held

Associate Professor (Reader) in Social Anthropology


Experience keywords:

Catholicism; Mormonism; anthropology of Christianity; genealogy and gender healing and mediumship; kinship; religion; secularism; the lowland Philippines

Research summary > [Click to expand]

Dr Fenella Cannell is a specialist in Southeast Asian anthropology, and worked in the Philippines in 1988-89, 1992 and 1997. Her fieldwork was with Catholic rice-farming people in a rural area, but on the outskirts of a small town, where people were also exposed to complex, urbanising influences and images from Manila and from the West especially America. Her research explored the ways in which people come to think about 'culture' in a post-colonial society, and focussed on women's lives and arranged marriage, spirit-mediumship, saint's cults and religion, and popular performances including transvestite beauty contests (see Power and Intimacy in the Christian Philippines, Cambridge University Press 1999 and Ateneo de Manila University Press 2000).

She has since carried out historically-based work on the Philippines, especially on education, kinship and gender in the American colonial period. She also works with a number of postgraduate students whose research is based in Indonesia and other parts of Southeast Asia, and intends to do more work in the region in the future.

In recent years, she has also developed her interest in writing about unusual Christian parts of the world, and an edited collection, The Anthropology of Christianity , is currently under review with Duke University Press. Fenella Cannell is currently working on a two year research project on American kinship and religion, focussing on Mormonism.

Media experience:

Radio; TV

Contact Points

LSE phone number:

+44 (0)20 7955 7728



Cannell, Fenella (2017) Latter-day saints and the problem of theology In: Lemons, J. Derrick, (ed.) Theologically Engaged Anthropology. Oxford University Press, Oxford, UK.

Cannell, Fenella (2017) Mormonism and anthropology: on ways of knowing Mormon Studies Review, 4 (1). 1-15. ISSN 2156-8022

Cannell, Fenella (2017) ‘Forever Families’; Christian individualism, Mormonism and collective salvation. In: Thomas, Todne and Malik, Asiya and Wellman, Rose, (eds.) New Directions in Spiritual Kinship: Sacred Ties across the Abrahamic Religions. Contemporary Anthropology of Religion. Springer Nature, Cham, Switzerland, 151-169. ISBN 9783319484228


Cannell, Fenella (2013) Ghosts and ancestors in the modern west In: Boddy, Janice and Lambek, Michael, (eds.) A Companion to the Anthropology of Religion. Blackwell Companions to Anthropology Series. Wiley Blackwell, Chichester, UK.. ISBN 9780470673324

Cannell, Fenella (2013) Book review: filming the decline Anthropology of This Century, 6. ISSN 2047-6345

Mckinnon, Susie and Cannell, Fenella (2013) The difference kinship makes In: Mckinnon, Susie and Cannell, Fenella, (eds.) Vital Relations: Modernity and the Persistent Life of Kinship. SAR Press, Santa Fe, USA. ISBN 9781938645013

Mckinnon, Susie and Cannell, Fenella, eds (2013) Vital relations: modernity and the persistent life of kinship SAR Press, Santa Fe, USA. ISBN 9781938645013

Cannell, Fenella (2013) The re-enchantment of kinship In: Mckinnon, Susie and Cannell, Fenella, (eds.) Vital Relations: Modernity and the Persistent Life of Kinship. SAR Press, Santa Fe, USA, 217-240. ISBN 9781938645013

Cannell, Fenella (2013) The blood of Abraham: Mormon redemptive physicality and American idioms of kinship Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute, 19 (1 S). 77-94. ISSN 1359-0987

Cannell, Fenella (2013) Ghosts and ancestors in Western kinship In: Boddy, J. and Lambeck, M., (eds.) Companion to the Anthropology of Religion. Wiley-Blackwell, London, UK. ISBN 9780470673324


Cannell, Fenella (2011) English ancestors: the moral possibilities of popular genealogy Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute, 17 (3). 462-480. ISSN 1359-0987


Cannell, Fenella (2010) Is ritual really like a hat? Or the category formerly known as religion Religion and Society: Advances in Research, 1 (1). 19-21. ISSN 2150-9298

Cannell, Fenella (2010) Anthropology of secularism Annual Review of Anthropology, 39. 85-100. ISSN 0084-6570


Cannell, Fenella (2007) How does ritual matter? In: Astuti, Rita and Parry, Jonathan and Stafford, Charles, (eds.) Questions of Anthropology. London School of Economics monographs on social anthropology (76). Berg, Oxford, UK, 105-136. ISBN 9781845207489

Cannell, Fenella (2007) Christian moderns: freedom and fetish in the mission encounter The Anthropology of Christianity, 85 (1st). 1st, University of California Press, California, USA. ISBN 9780520246522


Cannell, Fenella, ed (2006) The anthropology of Christianity Duke University Press, Durham, NC. ISBN 9780822336082

Cannell, Fenella (2006) Introduction: the anthropology of Christianity In: Cannell, Fenella, (ed.) The Anthropology of Christianity. Duke University Press, Durham, USA, 1-50. ISBN 9780822336464

Cannell, Fenella (2006) Reading as gift and writing as theft In: Cannell, Fenella, (ed.) Anthropology of Christianity. Duke University Press, Durham, USA, 134-162. ISBN 9780822336464


Cannell, Fenella (2005) The Christianity of anthropology Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute, 11 (2). 335-356. ISSN 1359-0987

Cannell, Fenella (2005) Immaterial culture: "idolatry" in the lowland Philippines In: Willford, Andrew C. and George, Kenneth M., (eds.) Spirited Politics: Religion and Public Life in Contemporary Southeast Asia. Studies on Southeast Asia (38). Southeast Asia Program Publications, Cornell University, New York, US, 159-184. ISBN 9780877277378


Cannell, Fenella (1999) Power and intimacy in the Christian Philippines Cambridge studies in social and cultural anthropology, Vol. 1 (109). Cambridge University Press, Cambridge. ISBN 9780521646222

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