Dr Neil Armstrong

Subject: Anthropology

Department: Anthropology

Academic position: Stipendiary Lecturer in Social and Cultural Anthropology


I am Stipendiary Lecturer in Social and Cultural Anthropology and Director of Studies for the Archaeology and Anthropology degree at Magdalen. I am also non-stipendiary Fellow and Tutor in Anthropology at Harris Manchester College. In the university as a whole, I am affiliated to the School of Anthropology and Museum Ethnography and to the Department of Psychiatry.

In Magdalen, I give tutorials in the core anthropology papers for undergraduates taking the Archaeology and Anthropology degree. I also give tutorials in anthropology for Human Sciences undergraduates, as well as supervising research students.

My research investigates mental health. The aim is to contribute to interdisciplinary debates looking at how to improve the way mental healthcare is organised, rather than developing and evaluating new interventions.

A feature of my research is that I coproduce ethnography, sharing authorship and working with people to write about their lives. A book containing coproduced ethnography and autoethnography, Collaborative Ethnographic Working in Mental Healthcare will be published by Routledge in December.

I am Student Mental Health Research Associate at King’s College London, where I am conducting a long-term ethnographic investigation of how to make the university compassionate.

With colleagues at the University of the Arts London, I am involved in developing rituals that promote social connection and reduce loneliness through acts of public silliness.

I am a Research Fellow at Mental Fight Club, an organisation that works to facilitate productive dialogue between people who experience mental health problems, clinicians and researchers. https://www.mentalfightclub.art/

I am a member of the local NHS Clinical Ethics Advisory Group and Associate Editor of the BJPsych Bulletin https://www.cambridge.org/core/journals/bjpsych-bulletin

Recent Publications

Armstrong, N., Beswick, L. & Vega, M.O. (2023) ‘Is it Still Ok to be Ok? Mental Health Labels as a Campus Technology.’ Cult Med Psychiatry https://doi.org/10.1007/s11013-023-09819-3

Hall J, Armstrong N, Agulnik P, et al.(2023) ‘The processes and context of innovation in mental healthcare: Oxfordshire as a case study.’ History of Psychiatry. 34(1):3-16. doi:10.1177/0957154X221140736

Millard D, Agulnik P, Armstrong N, et al (2023) ‘Innovation in mental health care: Bertram Mandelbrote, the Phoenix Unit and the therapeutic community approach.’ History of Psychiatry. 34(1):17-33. doi:10.1177/0957154X221142416

Leach J, Agulnik P, Armstrong N. (2023) ‘The development of a creative work rehabilitation organisation.’ History of Psychiatry. 34(1):48-63. doi:10.1177/0957154X221138696

Armstrong N, Agulnik P. (2023) ‘Happenstance and regulatory culture: the evolution of innovative community mental health services in Oxfordshire in the late twentieth century.’ History of Psychiatry. 34(1):64-77. doi:10.1177/0957154X221136702

Armstrong, N and Pratt-Boyden,K (2021) ‘Silver linings: how mental health activists can help us navigate wicked problem.s’ BJ Psych Bulletin 45 (4): 227 – 230. https://doi.org/10.1192/bjb.2021.25

Armstrong N and Agulnik, P. (2020) ‘“I was at the right place in the right time” The neglected role of happenstance in the lives of people and institutions.’ HAU: Journal of Ethnographic Theory 10 (3): 890–905 https://doi.org/10.1086/711880