Dr Fenella Cannell

Dr Fenella Cannell

Associate Professor

Department of Anthropology

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Key Expertise
Lowland Philippines, United States

About me

Dr Fenella Cannell is a specialist in Southeast Asian anthropology, and has also conducted research on kinship and religion in the United States. She 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 focused on women's lives and arranged marriage, spirit-mediumship, saint's cults and religion, and popular performances including transvestite beauty contests. 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. Most recently, however, she has conducted a two-year research project on American kinship and religion, with a particular focus on Mormonism. Much of this research took place in upstate New York and in Utah.

In addition to these field-based projects, Dr Cannell has written more broadly on the relationship between Christianity and social theory.

Expertise Details

Lowland Philippines; United States; anthropology of Christianity; healing and mediumship; gender; Mormonism and kinship

Selected publications

In preparation. The religion of kinship; Mormon piety in a secular age (working title). 

2013. Vital relations; kinship and the critique of modernity. (working title). Eds. F. Cannell and S. McKinnon. SAR Press, Santa Fe. Click here for more information.

2011. ‘Is ritual really like a hat? Or the category formerly known as religion’ in Religion and Society 1 (20--) 22-24. 

2011. 'English ancestors; the moral possibilities of popular genealogy.'  Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute (NS) 17 (3) 462 - 480.

2010. ‘The anthropology of secularism.’ Annual Review of Anthropology 39; 85-100.

2007. Invited 750-word comment on Joel Robbins’ Continuity thinking, and the problem of Christian belief’. Current anthropology 48:1 (5-38).

2007. “How does ritual matter?” In Questions of Anthropology R. Astuti, J. Parry and C. Stafford (eds.), London School of Economics Monographs, Oxford: Berg 105-136.

2006. (editor) The anthropology of Christianity. Durham: Duke University Press.

2005. The Christianity of anthropology. Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute11(2): 335-356. 

2005. 'Idolatry' in the lowland Philippines. In Spirited politics: Religion and politics in Southeast Asia, K. George and A. Wilford (eds). Ithaca: Cornell Southeast Asia Program Publications. 

1999. Power and intimacy in the Christian Philippines. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. (Manila: Ateneo de Manila University Press, 2000.)