Professor Celia RobertsProfessor of Gender and Science Studies
Teaching and Departmental Roles
I am curently the Co-Director, with VIcky Singleton of the Centre for Gender and Women's Studies and also, with Anne Cronin, Joint Doctoral Director in the Department of Sociology.
In 2016-17 I will teach an MA course, 'Gender, Sex and Bodies' which is a core course for our Women's Studies Programme. At the UG level I am co-teaching, with Maggie Mort, a 3rd year course entitled 'Health, life and bodies.' I will also deliver six lectures on the Part One Gender and Women's Studies course.
My research centres on the body, health, reproduction, sexuality and aging. My latest book, entitled 'Puberty in Crisis: a bio-psycho-social account', for Cambridge University Press is available from September 2015 (http://www.cambridge.org/gb/academic/subjects/sociology/sociology-gender/puberty-crisis-sociology-early-sexual-development?format=HB). This book brings together feminist science studies, feminist theories of the body, sexuality and girlhood studies to explore the current global 'crisis' in sexual development.
This work builds on my earlier book, Messengers of Sex: hormones, biomedicine and feminism (Cambridge University Press, 2007), which explores the role of hormones in producing sexually differentiated bodies (http://www.cambridge.org/catalogue/catalogue.asp?isbn=9780521681971). In it, I critically analyse scientific and biomedical texts, pharmaceutical advertisements, patient leaflets, and popular media accounts of sex hormones and how they work in our bodies. I have published several articles on this area (see below), with a particular focus on hormone replacement therapy. I am interested in questions of responsibility and risk in contemporary biomedicine, and in how patients come to make decisions about engaging with new medical technologies.
I am also the co-author (with Sarah Franklin) of a book on genetics and reproduction, entitled Born and Made: An ethnography of preimplantation genetic diagnosis (Princeton University Press, 2006) (http://press.princeton.edu/titles/8313.html). This work is based on three years of ethnographic research of the so-called 'designer baby technique' (preimplantation genetic diagnosis, or PGD). This research was funded by the ESRC and MRC within the Innovative Health Technologies programme. With Franklin and Karen Throsby (Warwick University), I have also studied the donation of embryos to stem cell research within the PGD clinic (funded by the Wellcome Trust and CESAGen). Karen Throsby and Ihave since worked together on early puberty and obesity.
My interest in new biomedical technologies has led to collaboration with colleagues in the School of Health and Medicine and the Centre for Science Studies. I have participated in 5 projects funded by the EU; one of which is ongoing. In chronological order these are:
1) A Thematic Network entitled 'Identifying Trends in European Medical Space' (ITEMS), which provides opportunities for scholars and students working on health and medical from social science and humanities' perspectives to come together at meetings and conferences and to develop international projects (see http://www.csi.ensmp.fr/WebCSI/ITEMS/index.htm);
2) A Specific Support Action called 'Governance, health, and medicine: Opening dialogue between social scientists and users' (MEDUSE), which focussed on three areas of research, including the use of new technologies to care for older people living at home (see http://www.csi.ensmp.fr/WebCSI/MEDUSE/);
3) A collaborative research project led by Lancaster, with partners in The Netherlands, Norway and Spain, entitled 'Ethical Frameworks for Telecare Technologies' (EFORTT) (see http://www.lancs.ac.uk/efortt/). This project, led by our group at Lancaster, focussed on older people living at home, looking at the development of new care technologies to assist them in this. In essence, we are investigated what 'care' for older people means today. This project involved ethnographic research and citizens' panels;
4) A collaborative research project led by colleagues at the Ecole des Mines, Paris, with partners in Ireland, the UK and Portugal entitled 'European Patient Organisations in Knowledge Society' (EPOKS) (See http://www.csi.ensmp.fr/WebCSI/EPOKSWebSite/).This project investigated patient organisations across a range of health conditions. In the Lancaster part of the project, Imogen Tyler, Candice Satchwelland I studied British birth organisations and their impact on women's health. This was an ethnographic project;
5) For the last five years, I have been part of a European Research Council project, led by Ericka Johnson of Linkoeping University, entitled Prescriptive Prescriptions: Prescribing Healthy Subjectivities. This wide-ranging project explores a number of pharmaceuticals, from the HPV vaccine through Alzheimer's medications, to prostate treatments. In my part of the project, I explored the use of GnRH analogs to prevent puberty in both cis and trans children.
I also lead the Living Data research group, which has been funded by Intel Labs. We are working on several projects on biosensing, looking at direct-to-consumer genetic testing, ovulation monitoring and cortisol stress testing. For more information on this work please see:
In the past, I have also worked on research projects on breast cancer, HIV/AIDS and heterosexuality, and gender equity in public institutions.
Finally, I am a co-editor of Feminist Theory and have co-edited, with Myra Hird, a special issue of Feminist Theory on 'non-human feminisms', and with Raewyn Connell, a special issue on Southern Feminist Theory.
PhD Supervision Interests
Supervision I am interested in a number of research areas, mostly focusing on issues relating to health, embodiment, sexuality, reproduction and biology. I have co-supervised 10 PhD students to completion to date and all have passed with no or minor amendments: - Lin Wen-Yuan (2005) who worked on kidney dialysis in Taiwan; - Kaori Sasaki (2006) who worked on brain death and organ transplantation in Japan; - Ranjini C.R. (2006) who worked on health information systems in southern India- Anne Rudolph (2009) whose thesis focussed on young lesbian, bi-sexual and queer women's understandings of sexually transmitted infections; - Clare Hollowell (2010) who studied young women's experiences of fun; and-Shih, Li-Wen (2012) whose research focussed on prenatal testing and screening in Taiwan.-Brigit Morris-Colton (2014) who studied an arts for mental health service, focussing on the concept of recovery.Kate McNicolas-Smith, who is working on lesbians on television (ESRC-funded)- Kate McNicholas-Smith (2015) who analysed lesbians on television in the post-queer age
- Oscar Maldonado (2015), whose work focuses on the HPV vaccine in Colombia
- Rebecca Fox (2015) who worked on women with learning disabilities living in secure accomodation (ESRC-funded)
I have 6 current students:1. Alison Hanbury, studying the HPV vaccine in the UK, as part of the Prescriptive Prescriptions (ERC) project2. Joann Wilkinson, studying reproductive biosensors as part of the 'Making sense of biosensors' project, funded by Intel3. Lucy Ryan, studying adopters' views and experiences of parenting (self-funded)4. Cron Cronshaw, who is working on young trans people's autobiographies (ESRC funded)5. Theresa Atkinson, who is researching telecare for older people, building on our EFFORT project on telecare (ESRC funded)
6. Nicola Sugden, working on Donald Winnicott and child & adolescent mental health services (ESRC CASE Award, based at Manchester University).
All of these are empirical research projects, using methods such as participant observation, interviewing, focus groups and textual analysis.
I am deeply interested in feminist and social theory and am an editor of a leading feminist journal, Feminist Theory. I am very keen to work with postgraduate students on these themes relating to feminist theory, embodiment and sexuality, either in Sociology or Women's Studies. Prospective students should feel free to contact me by email to discuss the possibility of studying at Lancaster.
Review of Elizabeth A Wilson, 'Gut Feminism'
Roberts, C.M. 5/06/2017 In: New Genetics and Society. 2 p.
Endomaterialities: the toxic politics of hormones, sex/gender and reproduction
Roberts, C.M. 5/02/2017 In: Gender. New York : Macmillan Interdisciplinary Handbooks ISBN: 9780028663203. Electronic ISBN: 9780028663159.
Biosensing networks: sense making in consumer genomics and ovulation tracking
Kragh-Furbo, M., Wilkinson, J., Mort, M.M.E., Roberts, C.M., MacKenzie, A.B. 2017 In: Understanding personal medical devices.
New puberty, new trans: children, pharmaceuticals and politics
Roberts, C.M., Cronshaw, C. 2017 In: Gendering drugs. London : Palgrave p. 59-84. 26 p. ISBN: 9783319514864. Electronic ISBN: 9783319514871.
Roberts, C.M., Connell, R. 1/08/2016 In: Feminist Theory. 17, 2, 103 p.
Feminist theory and the global South
Roberts, C.M., Connell, R. 08/2016 In: Feminist Theory. 17, 2, 6 p.
Health social movements and the hybridisation of ‘cause regimes’: an ethnography of a British childbirth organisation
Roberts, C., Tyler, I., Satchwell, C., Armstrong, J. 07/2016 In: Social Movement Studies. 15, 4, p. 417-430. 14 p.
Psychology, evolution and the traumatised child: exploring the neurophysiology of early sexual development
Roberts, C.M. 8/04/2016 In: Australian Feminist Studies. 30, 86, p. 377-385. 9 p.
Tanner's puberty scale: exploring the historical entanglements of children, scientific photography and sex
Roberts, C. 1/03/2016 In: Sexualities. 19, 3, p. 328-346. 19 p.
Biosensing: how citizens’ views illuminate emerging health and social risks
Mort, M.M.E., Roberts, C.M., Furbo, M.K., Wilkinson, J., MacKenzie, A.B. 03/2016 In: Health, Risk and Society. 17, 7-8, p. 605-623. 19 p.
Psychosocial dimensions of early-onset puberty and its treatment
Roberts, C.M. 03/2016 In: The Lancet Diabetes and Endocrinology. 4, 3, p. 195-197. 3 p.
Do biosensors biomedicalize?: sites of negotiation in DNA based biosensing data practices
Kragh-Furbo, M., MacKenzie, A.B., Mort, M.M.E., Roberts, C.M. 2016 In: Quantified. Cambridge, Mass : MIT Press, Cambridge, Mass. p. 5-26. 22 p. ISBN: 9780262034173, 9780262528757. Electronic ISBN: 9780262334532.
Practising ambivalence: the feminist politics of engaging with technoscience
Roberts, C.M. 2016 In: Posthumanities. New York : Springer
Adopting neuroscience: parenting and affective indeterminacy
MacKenzie, A.B., Roberts, C.M. 15/09/2015 In: Body and Society.
Puberty in crisis: the sociology of early sexual development
Roberts, C. 08/2015 Cambridge : Cambridge University Press. 300 p. ISBN: 9781107104723.
Ethical implications of home telecare for older people: a framework derived from a multi-sited participative study
The EFORTT investigators 06/2015 In: Health Expectations. 18, 3, p. 438-449. 12 p.
Ovulation monitoring and reproductive heterosex: living the conceptive imperative?
Wilkinson, J., Roberts, C., Mort, M. 3/03/2015 In: Culture, Health and Sexuality. 17, 4, p. 454-469. 16 p.
Installing telecare, installing users: Felicity conditions for the instauration of usership
Sánchez-Criado, T., López, D., Roberts, C., Domènech, M. 09/2014 In: Science, Technology, and Human Values. 39, 5, p. 694-719. 26 p.
Practising childbirth activism: a politics of evidence
Akrich, M., Leane, M., Roberts, C., Arriscado Nunes, J. 03/2014 In: BioSocieties. 9, p. 129-152. 24 p.
Ageing with telecare: care or coercion in austerity?
Mort, M., Roberts, C., Callen, B. 07/2013 In: Sociology of Health and Illness. 35, 6, p. 799-812. 14 p.
Early puberty, 'sexualisation' and feminism
Roberts, C. 05/2013 In: European Journal of Women's Studies. 20, 2, p. 138-154. 17 p.
Care work and new technologies of care for older people living at home
Roberts, C., Mort, M., Milligan, C. 2013 In: The Sage handbook of ageing, work and society. London : Sage Publications p. 157-169. 12 p. ISBN: 9781446207286.
Calling for Care: ‘Disembodied’ Work, Teleoperators and Older People Living at Home
Roberts, C., Mort, M., Milligan, C. 06/2012 In: Sociology. 46, 3, p. 490-506. 17 p.
European Patient Organizations in Knowledge Society: Case Study of the National Childbirth Trust, UK
Tyler, I., Roberts, C. 2011 Lancaster : Lancaster University.
Feminism theorises the nonhuman
Hird, M.J., Roberts, C. 2011 In: Feminist Theory. 12, 2, 9 p.
Feminist science and technology studies
McNeil, M., Roberts, C. 2011 In: Theories and Methodologies in Postgraduate Feminist Research. London : Routledge
Health Activism in Europe today: Preliminary findings of European Patient Organisations in a Knowledge Society
Tyler, I., Roberts, C. 2011 Lancaster : Lancaster University.
Roberts, C., Hird, M.J. 2011 In: Feminist Theory. 12, 2
Telecare and older people – re-ordering social relations
Mort, M., Roberts, C., Milligan, C. 2011 In: Towards Responsible Research and Innovation in the Information and Communication Technologies and Security Technologies Fields: a report for the European Commission Services. Brussels : European Commission Bookshop p. 149-164. 15 p.
Telecare and older people: who cares where?
Milligan, C., Roberts, C., Mort, M. 2011 In: Social Science and Medicine. 72, 3, p. 347-354. 8 p.
Getting bigger: children's bodies, genes and environments
Throsby, K., Roberts, C. 05/2010 In: The Sociological Review. 58, S1, p. 73-92. 20 p.
Cracks in the door? technology and the shifting topology of care
Milligan, C., Mort, M., Roberts, C. 2010 In: New technologies and emerging spaces of care dwelling. Aldershot : Ashgate Publishing p. 19-38. 20 p. ISBN: 978-0-7546-7864-9.
Early puberty and public health: a social scientific pinboard
Roberts, C. 2010 In: Critical Public Health. 20, 4, p. 429-438. 10 p.
Ageing, Technology and Home: a critical project, Ageing’, in Technology & the Home: researching new care configurations
Mort, M., Roberts, C., Milligan, C. 04/2009 In: Alter: European Journal of Disability Research / Alter: Journal Européen de Recherche sur le Handicap. 3, 2, 5 p.
Roberts, C., Fraser, S., valentine, k. 2009 In: Science as Culture. 18, 2
Fraser, S., Valentine, K., Roberts, C. 2009 In: Science as Culture. 18, 2, 9 p.
Rationalities and Non-rationalities in Clinical Encounters: Methadone Maintenance Treatment and Hormone Replacement Therapy
Roberts, C., valentine, k., Fraser, S. 2009 In: Science as Culture. 18, 2, p. 165-181. 17 p.
Reshaping what counts as care: older people, work and new technologies
Roberts, C., Mort, M. 2009 In: Alter: European Journal of Disability Research / Alter: Journal Européen de Recherche sur le Handicap. 3, 2, p. 138-158. 21 p.
Paid to share: IVF patients, eggs and stem cell research
Roberts, C., Throsby, K. 01/2008 In: Social Science and Medicine. 66, 1, p. 159-169. 11 p.
Ageing, Technology and Home Care: New Actors, New Responsibilities
Mort, M., Roberts, C., Milligan, C. 2008 1 ed. Paris : Presses de l'Ecole des mines. 124 p.
Messengers of Sex: Hormones, biomedicine and feminism.
Roberts, C. 2007 Cambridge University Press. 230 p. ISBN: 978-0-521-86337-7.
Encouraging dissent : contemporary challenges to bioethics.
Roberts, C., Throsby, K. 07/2006 In: Australian Feminist Studies. 21, 50, p. 289-291. 3 p.
Science : experimental sensibilities in practice.
Roberts, C., Mackenzie, A. 05/2006 In: Theory, Culture and Society. 23, 2-3, p. 157-162. 6 p.
Controversies in cardiology.
Johnson, E., Thelander, S., Roberts, C. 03/2006 In: European Journal of Cardiovascular Nursing. 5, 1, p. 1-2. 2 p.
Introduction :: New British feminist scholarship and contemporary politics
Aune, K., Roberts, C. 03/2006 In: Journal of International Women's Studies. 7, 3, 4 p.
Born and Made: An ethnography of preimplantation genetic diagnosis.
Roberts, C.M., Franklin, S. 2006 Princeton University Press. 256 p. ISBN: 978-0691-12192-5.
Enacting gender in reproductive medicine.
Roberts, C. 2006 In: Prenatal testing: individual decision or distributed action?. München : Profil p. 87-100. 14 p.
Medicine and the sexual body.
Roberts, C. 2006 In: Handboook of the new sexuality studies. New York, London : Routledge p. 88-96. 9 p. ISBN: 0415386489.
What can I do to help myself? : Somatic individuality and contemporary hormonal bodies.
Roberts, C. 2006 In: Science Studies. 19, 2, p. 54-76. 23 p.
Experiencing new forms of genetic choice: Findings from an ethnographic study of preimplantation genetic diagnosis.
Roberts, C., Franklin, S. 2004 In: Human Fertility. 7, 4, p. 285-293. 9 p.
Faking it: the story of 'Ohh!'.
Roberts, C., Kippax, S., Waldby, C., Crawford, J. 2004 In: Sexualities: Identities, Behaviors, and Society. Oxford : Oxford University Press p. 266-274. 9 p. ISBN: 978-0195157604.
Sex, Race and ‘Unnatural’ Difference: Tracking the Chiastic Logic of Menopause-Related Discourses.
Roberts,, C. 2004 In: European Journal of Women's Studies. 11, 1, p. 27-44. 18 p.
Drowning in a Sea of Estrogens: sex hormones, sexual reproduction and sex.
Roberts, C.M. 1/05/2003 In: Sexualities. 6, 2, p. 195-213. 19 p.
An evidence based on specialist breast nurse role in practice : a multi-centre implementation study.
Roberts, C., National Breast Cancer Centre's Specialist Breast Care Project Team, T. 03/2003 In: European Journal of Cancer Care. 12, 1, p. 91-97. 7 p.
Successful aging with hormone replacement therapy: It may be sexist, but what if it works.
Roberts, C.M. 1/03/2002 In: Science as Culture. 11, 1, p. 39-59. 21 p.
Critical consumers : ideas for breast cancer advocacy.
Roberts, C. 2002 In: Queensland Women's Health Journal. 1, 1, p. 5-16. 12 p.
A matter of embodied fact : sex hormones and the history of bodies.
Roberts, C. 04/2001 In: Feminist Theory. 3, 1, p. 7-26. 20 p.
FP7: Prescriptive Prescriptions: Pharmaceuticals and Healthy Subjectivities
01/08/2011 → …
Living Data: Making sense of health biosensors
01/05/2011 → 30/04/2015
ESRC Studentship for Rebecca Fish ES/H037594/1
01/10/2010 → 16/04/2016
Early Onset Puberty
01/01/2010 → 31/12/2014
01/02/2009 → 30/04/2012
01/03/2008 → …
Healthcare at home? New technologies and responsibilities across diverse EU systems and cultures
01/02/2006 → 30/09/2009
ITEMS - Identifying Trends in European Medical Space
01/06/2003 → 30/09/2006
Centre for Gender and Women's Studies Research Day
Participation in conference