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Mwenza Blell

Mwenza Blell

The School of Geography, Politics and Sociology, Newcastle University


Dr Mwenza Blell is a Rutherford Fellow affiliated to Health Data Research UK, a Newcastle University Academic Track Fellow, a Grant Researcher at Tampere University, a Visiting Fellow at Helsinki University, and a Changing (In)Fertilities Project Researcher. She is a biosocial medical anthropologist and among her interests are health data-driven research and technological development, particularly the socio-political contexts in which new health data technologies and ethical and governance infrastructures are situated. She is currently carrying out research on several major health data-related projects including the Horizon 2020-funded EU-Canada collaborative EUCAN-Connect project about health data innovation and personalized medicine, the Finnish Kone Foundation-funded 'Technology, Ethics and Reproduction: Controversy in the Era of Normalisation' project, UK-based Connected Health Cities Programme's Great North Care Record, a health and social care data sharing infrastructure, and the UK-based ESRC, MRC, and Wellcome Trust-funded METADAC (Managing Ethico-social, Technical and Administrative issues in Data ACcess) project, a health research data sharing governance system, and, last but not least, an arts-based project about the use of AI and machine learning in public health care entitled Escaping Data Driven Dystopias.

Key Publications

2019  N. Toorabally, C.H. Mercer, K.R. Mitchell, M. Blell, F. Burns, R.Gilson, J. McGregor-Read, S. Allan, A. De Ruiter, R, Dhairyawan, J. Fox, Y. Gilleece, R. Jones, N. Mackie, S. Obeyesekera, F. Post, I. Reeves, M. Rosenvinge, J. Ross, L. Sarner, A. Sullivan, A. Tariq, A.Ustianowski, C.A. Sabin & S. Tariq. Association of HIV status with sexual function in women aged 45–60 in England: results from two national surveys, AIDS Care, DOI: 10.1080/09540121.2019.1653436

2019  M. Blell and M.A. Hunter. Direct-to-consumer genetic testing's red herring: 'Genetic ancestry' and personalized medicine.  (invited contribution to a special issue) Frontiers in Medicine doi: 10.3389/fmed.2019.00048
2017   M. Blell.  British Pakistani Muslim masculinity, (in)fertility, and the clinical encounter. Medical Anthropology (invited contribution to a special issue) 36(8). DOI: 10.1080/01459740.2017.1364736

2015   M. Blell.  Menopausal symptoms among British Pakistani women: a critique of the standard checklist approach.  Menopause: The Journal of The North American Menopause Society 22(1): 79-87.

2014    K. Hampshire, N. Iqbal, M. Blell, and R. Simpson. The interview as narrative ethnography: seeking and shaping connections in qualitative research. International Journal of Social Research Methodology 17(3): 215-231.

2012    K. Hampshire, M. Blell, and R. Simpson. 'Everybody is moving on': Infertility, relationality and the aesthetics of family among British-Pakistani Muslims. Social Science & Medicine 74(7): 1045–1052.

2012    K. Hampshire, M. Blell, and R. Simpson. Navigating new socio-demographic landscapes: using anthropological demography to understand the persistence of high and early fertility among British Pakistanis. European Journal of Population 28(1): 39-63. 

Changing (In)Fertilities is a major new collaborative interdisciplinary research project funded by the Wellcome Trust and based in the Reproductive Sociology Research Group (ReproSoc) at the University of Cambridge, in collaboration with Prof. Marcia C. Inhorn of Yale University.


We know that IVF and ARTs do not just reproduce babies: they reproduce values, norms, identities and institutions.

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This project is funded by the Wellcome Trust