Elizabeth Turk

Dr Elizabeth Turk


  • Position Fellow Junior Research Fellow
  • Subject areas Anthropology
  • School Humanities and Social Sciences
  • Department Social Anthropology
  • Email eht24@cam.ac.cuk
  • Department link Social Anthropology

Elizabeth is a Research Associate and Affiliated Lecturer in the Department of Social Anthropology.

Elizabeth Turk

Elizabeth earned her doctorate in Social Anthropology from the University of Cambridge (Selwyn College) in 2018. She began research in 2010 as a Fulbright Scholar exploring shamanic healing practices in Mongolia, specifically the connection between spiritual illness and the forecasted mining boom. Elizabeth earned her MA in Sociocultural Anthropology from Columbia University in 2013, where she also held the role of Postdoctoral Research Scholar and Lecturer in 2019-2020. As a Cultural Heritage Fellow, Elizabeth was funded by the American Center for Mongolian Studies and Henry Luce Foundation in 2016 to explore mineral springs and associated health practices in Mongolia.

In addition to teaching at both undergraduate and graduate levels in the Department of Social Anthropology, Elizabeth has been Director of Studies in Social Anthropology at Corpus Christi College. Alongside her current position as Research Associate, she is also a Curatorial Consultant for the National Museum of Qatar.

Elizabeth’s research explores health-related practices and strategies in Mongolia, with particular focus on ‘alternative’ and nature-based therapies. Her doctoral dissertation traced entanglements of body, natural environment and national identity as Mongolians find renewed interest in therapeutic heritage once denigrated as ‘superstition’ by the state. It looks at how Mongolians navigate the multiple authorities on health and wellbeing during a time of aging Soviet medical infrastructure.

Her current work builds on the doctoral research, as part of a project in the Department of Social Anthropology entitled ‘Mongolian Cosmopolitical Heritage: Tracing Divergent Healing Practices Across the Mongolian-Chinese Border’, funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council.

While the project ethnographically explores the politics of linking health and cultural heritage, research scope has shifted slightly in the wake of the pandemic, to focus on how healing practices – ‘traditional’, bio-medical, and the many intersections in between – are mobilized to prevent and treat COVID-19.

Ultimately, this research will illuminate the ways in which public administration and national constructions of culture shape practices that influence health and wellbeing. This will reveal mechanisms by which cultural forms change more generally.

What's on

Professor Helle Porsdam

Humanities Society: Science as a Cultural Human Right

24/05/2022 at 17.45

Join Professor Helle Porsdam for an evening talk which focuses on the right to science – a little known but potentially powerful human right.

Ellie Bladon, PhD student in the Department of Zoology, University of Cambridge

Science Society: Parental care: an evolutionary case of “use it or lose it”

27/05/2022 at 17.45

Phenotypic plasticity enables animals to flexibly adjust their behaviour to their social environment – sometimes through the expression of adaptive traits that have not been exhibited for several generations. The ability to revive these ‘ghosts of adaptations past’ could prove beneficial for populations living in a changing world.

Decorative image.

Working on Your Dissertation

28/05/2022 at 10.00

This workshop will cover several aspects of formatting and proofreading a dissertation.

Kill or Cure poster

Art exhibition: 'Kill or Cure'

28/05/2022 at 10.00

Lethal or life-giving? Wolfson's exciting contemporary art exhibition explores the potential of animals, plants, and substances from the natural world to ‘Kill’ and/or ‘Cure’ (open to the public Saturday and Sundays, 10am - 5pm).

Daniel Phillips playing violin and Victor Wang playing Piano

Music Society Lunchtime Concert: Daniel Phillips & Victor Wang

28/05/2022 at 13.30

Join us live in the Lee Hall for an hour-long lunchtime concert of violin and piano, performed by Daniel Phillips and Victor Wang.