Alexander Edmonds is Professor of Social and Medical Anthropology at the University of Edinburgh. He also holds an appointment as senior researcher at the University of Amsterdam's Centre for Social Science and Global Health. His research has examined the social uses of medical technology, plastic surgery, international development, and more recently, military cultures, mental health and psychological expertise. Regionally, he conducts ethnographic fieldwork in Brazil and the United States. Edmonds earned a BA with distinction in philosophy and religion from Stanford and a PhD with distinction in anthropology from Princeton. He was also a Woodrow Wilson Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of California, Los Angeles.
A major focus of his research is therapeutic work on the self and body in consumer societies. His book, Pretty Modern: Beauty, Sex and Plastic Surgery in Brazil, explores the commercial, erotic and intimate aspects of beauty in a nation with extremes of wealth and poverty. The book was awarded the Diana Forsythe prize from the American Anthropological Association, the Eileen Basker Memorial prize from the Society for Medical Anthropology, and honorable mention in the Sharon Stevens prize from the American Ethnological Society.
His current work is with military veterans. Focusing on the United States, Israel and the Netherlands, this project is a comparative study of psychological health, resilience and reintegration after combat. It also examines the development of clinical reasoning on war syndromes over the last decade. This research is funded by a five-year “Starting Grant” from the European Research Council. His other work has been supported by the Social Science Research Council, the Woodrow Wilson Society at Princeton, the European Union 7th Framework Program, and the Andrew Mellon Foundation.
Edmonds has written about his research for news media, including the New York Times, and been interviewed about his work by BBC Radio, the Associated Press, and other media outlets.
Edmonds has taught courses and supervises theses on medical anthropology, mental health and emotion, race, visual anthropology, international development, reproductive health and sexuality, and the ethnography of Brazil and Latin America.