Dr Michelle Pentecost

Michelle Pentecost

Postdoctoral Associate

I am a physician-anthropologist with a strong track record of interdisciplinary research. My research and publication record reflects my work and interest across disciplines including clinical medicine, anthropology, sociology, science and technology studies, urban studies and global health. I hold a degree in medicine from the University of Cape Town and I have almost a decade of work experience as a clinician in South Africa. I defended my doctorate in Anthropology at the University of Oxford in June 2017, where I specialised in the anthropology of postgenomics and global health. The dissertation, titled The First Thousand Days: Global Health and the Politics of Potential in Khayelitsha, South Africa, interrogated the logics and implications of "the first thousand days" as an object of global health, premised on new scientific understandings of risk and heredity in the context of South Africa's national nutrition policy, which focuses squarely on the perinatal period and the mitigation of intergenerational disease transmission.

Currently I am a co-investigator on a Wellcome Trust project titled 'Urban animals, human livelihoods and health in the global south: a trans-species approach'. This project questions the current anthropocentric nature of urban planning and public health through comparative ethnographic work in Cape Town and New Delhi. Building on my doctoral research, my contribution to this interdisciplinary project is an interrogation of the notions of environment and exposure at work in the governance of non-human life in ecologies of the global South, and the implications for concepts of health and life.

My other research interests engage questions around the place of inter/transdisciplinary work, particularly in the settings of medical pedagogy, and medical and health humanities. I am a founding member of the Health Professions Special Interest Group of the Medical and Health Humanities Africa Network. I am especially interested in the contemporary roles of the physician (and the physician-anthropologist) across the clinical, academic and public sectors, and the opportunities and challenges that accompany them.

Selected publications:

Pentecost M. The First Thousand Days: Epigenetics in the age of Global Health. In: The Handbook of Biology and Society. Meloni M, Cromby J, Fitzgerald D, Lloyd S (eds). Palgrave Macmillan, in press.

Pentecost M, Ross FC, MacNab A. Beyond the dyad: making DOHaD interventions more inclusive. Journal of Developmental Origins of Health and Disease, in press.

Pentecost M, Cousins TD. 2017. Strata of the political: epigenetic and microbial imaginaries in post-apartheid Cape Town. Antipode, doi: 10.1111/anti.12315.     

Everett-Murphy K, Pentecost M, Muhwava L, Majikela-Dlangamandla B. 2017. The experience of conducting focus group discussions on the topic of gestational diabetes in Cape Town, South Africa. SAGE Research Methods Cases. doi: 10.4135/9781526409522.

Oni T, Smit W, Matzopoulos R, Hunter Adams J, Pentecost M, Rother H, Albertyn Z, Behroozi F, Alaba O, Kaba M, van der Westhuizen C, Shung King M, Levitt NS, Parnell S, Lambert EV, RICHE members. 2016. Urban Health Research in Africa: Themes and Priority Research Questions. Journal of Urban Health, 2016, 1-9.      

Ulijaszek S, Pentecost M, Karpe F, Wardle J, Frubeck G, Nowicka P. 2016. Inequality and childhood overweight and obesity: a commentary. Paediatric obesity, doi:10.1111/ijpo.12128.


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