Michael G. Kenny

Professor Emeritus, Anthropology
Sociology & Anthropology


Dr. Michael Kenny, Professor Emeritus of Anthropology, was educated at the University of Virginia and Oxford University. He has done field research on pre-colonial East African history as expressed in oral tradition. In more recent times he has been concerned with the cultural history of medical psychology and alternative medicine, religion and political ideology, and the cultural shaping of personal experience.

Dr. Kenny continues to work on subjects pertaining to the relation between culture, history and self-experience. He has closely followed psychiatric and anthropological debates concerning spirit possession, multiple personality, amnesia, and the politics of memory. Dr. Kenny is now engaged in research on the relationship between the eugenics movement and the idea of race. This has led to a number of publications, and his current work is focused on the role of genomics in constructing human differences and fabricating new social identities.

Michael G. Kenny was a participant on May 16th, 2008, in a symposium sponsored by Genome British Columbia and Simon Fraser University on the topic of "Confronting ‘Race’: DNA and Diversity in the Digital Age". Professor Kenny's presentation addressed 'Haplotype Diversity, the Microarray, and the Refiguration of Race'.

Michael Kenny is Simons Fellow and mentor for GLS students in the Graduate Liberal Studies, SFU.


PhD (Social Anthropology), Oxford University
MA (Sociology and Anthropology), University of Virginia

Areas of Interest

Anthropology and medicine; anthropology and psychiatry; the politics of memory; religion and society; 19th Century American social history; history of eugenics; social influences of genomics.

Select Publications


  • Kenny, Michael G. and Kirsten Smillie. Stories of Culture and Place: An Introduction to Anthropology, 2nd edition, University of Toronto Press) (2017)
  • Kenny, Michael G. and Kirsten Smillie. Stories of Culture and Place: An Introduction to Anthropology (University of Toronto Press) (2014)
  • Kenny, Michael G. The Perfect Law of Liberty: Elias Smith and the Providential History of America (Smithsonian) (1994)
  • Kenny, Michael G. The Passion of Ansel Bourne: Multiple Personality in American Culture (Smithsonian) (1986)

Peer-Reviewed Articles

  • 'Genomics, Genetic Identity, and the Refiguration of Race,' in P. Farber & H. Cravens (eds.), Race and Science: Challenges to Racism in Contemporary America. Corvallis: Oregon State University Press, 2009: 213-227.
  • ‘A Question of Blood, Race, and Politics,’ Journal of the History of Medicine and Allied Sciences, 61(4): 456-491; 2006
  • ‘A place for memory: The interface between personal and collective history,’Comparative Studies in Society and History, 41(3): 420-437; 1998
  • ‘Toward a racial abyss: Eugenics, Wickliffe Draper, and the origins of the Pioneer Fund,’ Journal of the History of the Behavioral Sciences, 38(3), 259-283; 2002
  • ‘Racial science in social context: John R. Baker on eugenics, race, and the public role of the scientist,’ Isis, 95: 394-419; 2004
  • 'A darker shade of green: Medical botany, homeopathy, and cultural politics in interwar Germany,' Social History of Medicine, 15(3), 481-504; 2004