Kirsten Bell

Research interests include medical anthropology and sociology, anthropology of biomedicine, cancer, tobacco, addiction, gender, genital cutting, research ethics, Korean new religious movements.

Research Projects

• Confronting cigarette packaging: the ethics and effects of fear-based warning labels (funded by CIHR operating grant)
• Between life and death: the contradictions of cancer survivorship (funded by SSHRC operating grant)

• Critically interrogating cancer survivorship: Social science and humanities perspectives (funded by CIHR Meetings, Planning & Dissemination Grant)’.
• Alcohol, tobacco and obesity: Interrogating the new public health’s “Axis of Evil” (BC Mental Health & Addictions Research Network Seed Grant/CIHR MPD Grant)
• Rights, risks and smoking (funded by CIHR Ethics Seed Grant)

Selected Publications

I am a social anthropologist by training, and originally conducted fieldwork on new religious movements in South Korea.  I continued to work in this area until 2005, but over the past seven years have moved exclusively into the anthropology and sociology of biomedicine and public health.  My current research interests coalesce around the concepts of health and lifestyle and their connection with the social, moral, political and economic order.  I have also developed a recent interest in the production of scientific knowledge.  These underlying interests manifest in several distinct (and occasionally intersecting) areas of research and writing, including: tobacco, cancer, addiction, genital cutting, obesity and research ethics.  Prior to arriving in Canada in 2006, I held lectureships in anthropology departments at Macquarie University in Australia (2003-2005) and the University of Northern Colorado (2000-2002).

I am currently the Associate Editor for the Americas of the journal Critical Public Health and a member of the editorial boards of the International Journal of Drug Policy and Drugs and Alcohol Today.

Edited Volumes

1. Dennis, S. & Bell, K. (eds) (2013) Towards a critical anthropology of smoking: Exploring the consequences of tobacco control. Special issue of Contemporary Drug Problems, 40(1).
2. Bell, K., Salmon, A. & McNaughton, D. (eds) (2011) Alcohol, tobacco, obesity and the new public health. Special double issue. Critical Public Health, 21(1,2).
3. Bell, K., McNaughton, D. & Salmon, A. (eds) (2011) Alcohol, Tobacco and Obesity: Morality, Mortality and the New Public Health. Routledge: United Kingdom.


1. Bell, K., McNaughton, D. & Salmon, A. (2011) Introduction. Alcohol, Tobacco and Obesity: Morality, Mortality and the New Public Health. Routledge: United Kingdom, pp. 1-16.
2. Bell, K. (2011) Legislating abjection? Secondhand smoke, tobacco control policy and the public’s health. In K Bell, D McNaughton & A Salmon (eds), Alcohol, Tobacco and Obesity: Morality, Mortality and the New Public Health. Routledge: United Kingdom, pp. 73-89 (reprint).

Refereed Journal Articles

1. Bell, K. (2014) Resisting commensurability: Against informed consent as an anthropological virtue. American Anthropologist, 116(3).
2. Bell, K. (2014) HIV prevention: Making male circumcision the ‘right’ tool for the job. Global Public Health, available in early view form.
3. Bell, K. (2014) The breast-cancer-ization of cancer survivorship: Implications for experiences of the disease. Social Science & Medicine, 110: 56-63.
4. Bell, K. (2014) Science, policy and the rise of ‘thirdhand smoke’ as a public health issue. Health, Risk & Society, 16(2): 154-170.
5. Bell, K. (2013) Biomarkers, the molecular gaze and the transformation of cancer survivorship. BioSocieties, 8: 124-143.
6. Bell, K. (2013) Tobacco control, harm reduction and the problem of pleasure. Drugs & Alcohol Today, 13(2): 111-118.
7. Bell, K. (2013) Where there’s smoke there’s fire: Outdoor smoking bans and claims to public space. Contemporary Drug Problems, 40(1): 99-128.
8. Bell, K. & Ristovski-Slijepcevic, S. (2013) Cancer survivorship: Why labels matter. Journal of Clinical Oncology, 31(4): 409-411.
9. Bell, K. (2013) Whither tobacco studies? Sociology Compass, 7(1): 34-44.
10. & Salmon, A. (2012) Good intentions and dangerous assumptions: Research ethics committees and illicit drug use research. Research Ethics, 10(4): 191-199.
11. Bell, K. (2012) Remaking the self: Trauma, teachable moments and the biopolitics of cancer survivorship. Culture, Medicine & Psychiatry, 36(4): 584-600.
12. Bell, K. (2012) Cochrane reviews and the behavioural turn in evidence-based medicine. Health Sociology Review, 21(3): 313-321.
13. Bell, K. & Keane, H. (2012) Nicotine control: E-cigarettes, smoking and addiction. International Journal of Drug Policy, 23(3): 242-247.
14. Bell, K., Bowers, M., McCullough, L. & Bell, J. (2012) Physician advice for smoking cessation in primary care: Time for a paradigm shift? Critical Public Health, 22(1): 9-24.
15. Bell, K. & Salmon, A. (2011) What women who use drugs have to say about ethical research: Findings of an exploratory qualitative study. Journal of Empirical Research on Human Research Ethics, 6(4): 84-98.
16. Bell, K. & Ristovski-Slijepcevic, S. (2011) Metastatic cancer and mothering: Being a mother in the face of a contracted future. Medical Anthropology, 30(6): 629-649.
17. Lee, J. & Bell, K. (2011) The impact of cancer on family relationships amongst Chinese patients: Findings of a qualitative study. Journal of Transcultural Nursing, 22(3): 225-234.
18. Bell, K. (2011) Legislating abjection? Secondhand smoke, tobacco control policy and the public’s health. Critical Public Health, 21(1): 49-62.
19. Bell, K., & Kazanjian. A. (2011) PSA testing: Molecular technologies and men’s experience of prostate cancer survivorship. Health, Risk & Society, 13(2): 183-196.
20. Ristovski-Slijepcevic, S., Bell, K., Chapman, G. & Beagan, B. (2010) ‘Being thick indicates you are eating, you are healthy and you have an attractive body shape’: Perspectives on fatness and foot choice amongst Black and White men and women in Canada. Health Sociology Review, 19(3): 317-329.
21. Bell, K., Lee, J., Foran, S., Kwong, S. & Christopherson, J. (2010) Is there an ideal cancer support group? Key findings from a qualitative study of three groups. Journal of Psychosocial Oncology, 28(4): 432-449.
22. Bell, K., McCullough, L., Salmon, A. & Bell, J. (2010) Every space is claimed: Smokers’ experiences of tobacco denormalisation. Sociology of Health & Illness, 32(6): 1-16.
23. Bell, K. (2010) Cancer survivorship, mor(t)ality, and lifestyle discourses on cancer prevention. Sociology of Health & Illness, 32(3): 349-364.
24. Bauld, L., Bell, K., McCullough, L., Richardson, L. & Greaves, L. (2010) The effectiveness of NHS treatments for smoking cessation. Journal of Public Health, 32(1): 71-82.
25. Bell, K., McNaughton, D. & Salmon, A. (2009) Medicine, morality and mothering: Public health discourses on foetal alcohol exposure, smoking around children and childhood overnutrition. Critical Public Health, 19(2): 155-170. *This article is currently one of the journal’s 20 most cited articles.
26. Bell, K., McCullough, L., Devries, K., Jategaonkar, N., Greaves, L. & Richardson, L. (2009) Location restrictions on smoking: Assessing their differential impacts and consequences in the workplace. Canadian Journal of Public Health, 100(1): 46-50.
27. Bell, K., Lee, J. & Ristovski-Slijepcevic, S. (2009) Perceptions of food and eating among Chinese patients with cancer: Findings of an ethnographic study. Cancer Nursing, 32(2): 118-126.
28. Bell, K. & Salmon, A. (2009) Pain, physical dependence, and pseudoaddiction: Redefining addiction for ‘nice’ people? International Journal of Drug Policy, 20: 170-178. *This article made the journal’s 25 hottest articles list in October 2009-September 2010 and again in January-December 2011.
29. Bell, K. (2009) ‘If it almost kills you that means it’s working’: Cultural models of chemotherapy expressed in a cancer support group. Social Science & Medicine, 68: 169-176.
30. Bell, K. (2008) Pilgrims and progress: the production of religious experience in a Korean religion. Nova Religio: the Journal of Alternative and Emergent Religions, 12(1): 83-102.
31. Richardson, L., Greaves, L., Jategaonkar, N., Bell, K., Pederson, A. & Tungohan, E. (2007) Rethinking an assessment of nicotine dependence: a sex, gender and diversity analysis of the Fagerstrom Test for Nicotine Dependence. Journal of Smoking Cessation, 2(2): 59-67.
32. Bell, K. & McNaughton, D. (2007) Feminism and the invisible fat man. Body & Society, 13(1): 108-132.
33. Bell, K. (2005) Genital cutting and western discourses on sexuality. Medical Anthropology Quarterly, 19(2): 125-148. *This article made Anthrosource’s list of 25 most read anthropology articles in 2005 and 2009.
34. Bell, K. (2005) The trouble with charisma: Religious ecstasy in Ch’ondogyo. Asian Studies Review, 29(1): 3-18.
35. Bell, K. (2004) Cheondogyo and the Donghak Revolution: the (un)making of a religion. Korea Journal, 44(2): 123-148.
36. Bell, K. (2003) The gendering of religious experience: Ecstatic trance in Cheondogyo. Asian Journal of Women’s Studies, 9(2): 7-37.

Editorials, Commentaries and Responses

1. Ristovski-Slijepecvic, S. & Bell, K. (2014) Rethinking assumptions about cancer survivorship. Canadian Oncology Nursing Journal.
2. Bell, K. & Ristovski-Slijepcevic, S. (2013) Response to P Tralongo et al. ‘Beyond semantics: the need to better categorize patients with cancer’. Journal of Clinical Oncology, 31(20): 2638-2639.
3. Bell, K. & Dennis, S. (2013) Editorial. Towards a critical anthropology of smoking: Exploring the consequences of tobacco control. Contemporary Drug Problems, 40(1): 3-19.
4. Bell, K., Salmon, A. & McNaughton, D. (2011) Editorial: Alcohol, tobacco, obesity and the new public health. Critical Public Health, 21(1): 1-8.
5. Bell, K., Salmon, A., Bowers, M., Bell, J. & McCullough, L. (2010) Smoking, stigma and tobacco denormalization: Further reflections on the use of stigma as a public health tool. Social Science & Medicine. 70: 795-799.

Published Abstracts

1. Salmon, A., Allen, P., Ham, J., Pederson, A., Bell, K. & Malcoe, L.H. (2009) The Women’s Health Information Project: Locating and translating evidence for women who use drugs in the Downtown Eastside (Abstract). Journal of Urban Health, 86(3): 432.
2. Bell, K. & Christopherson, J. (2008) ‘Colorectal cancer is just not sexy’: Survivorship experiences in a colorectal cancer support group (Abstract). Psycho-Oncology, 17(Suppl. 6): S127-S128.
3. Bell, K. (2008) NICE Review of NHS Smoking Cessation Services (Abstract). Journal of Smoking Cessation, 2(Suppl. 1): 13.

Book Reviews

1. Bell, K. (2008) Review of The AIDS Pandemic by James Chin (2006). Critical Public Health, 18(1).
2. Bell, K. (2006) Review of The Making of Anthropology in East and Southeast Asia by Shinji Yamashita, Joseph Bosco & JS Eades, eds (2004). The Asia Pacific Journal of Anthropology, 7(2).
3. Bell, K. (2005) Review of Living Dangerously in Korea by Donald Clark (2003) & Korean Shamanism by Chongho Kim (2003). Asian Studies Review, 29(3): 313-315.
4. Bell, K. (2004) Review of Laying Claim to the Memory of May: a Look Back at the 1980 Kwangju Uprising by Linda Lewis (2002). The Australian Journal of Anthropology, 15(2).

Blog and Newspaper Articles

1. Bell, K. (2014) Silent but deadly: Farting across cultures. PopAnth: Hot-Buttered Humanity, 22 April 2014,
2. Bell, K. (2009) How to deliver a paper at an anthropology conference American Anthropological Association Blog, 12 October 2012,
3. Bell, K. (2009) Going to the dentist bites. Globe and Mail, 26 October 2009,

Winter 2014

ANTH516 Qualitative Methods in Anthropology Sections

A discussion of selected methods used to observe, describe, and interpret cultural phenomena and social organization, including participant observation, interviewing, ethnographic semantics, life histories, componential analysis, and photography. Attention will also be given to ethics in anthropological research and writing and to such analytic matters as the nature of description, conceptualization, generalization, and content analysis.