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Margaret Lock Anthropology

Trained as a cultural anthropologist, Margaret Lock’s research focuses on the relationship among culture, medical practices, technological innovation, and the human body. She initially researched the 20th century revival of the indigenous Japanese medical system that continues to proliferate to the present day. She has also carried out ethnographic inquiries into adolescence and old age in Japan. Her comparative research in Japan and North America into midlife aging transformed thinking in the social sciences about the relationship among biology, culture and society. It also influenced recommendations for medical practice. In addition, Lock has carried out extensive comparative research in Japan and North America in connection with recognition of brain death, organ retrieval, and transplantation. Recent research deals the entanglement of aging and dementia; the shift to biomarker detection of amyloid in healthy people, and the impact on families in connection with genetic testing for the APOE gene. Lock’s current project concerns the impact of emerging epigenetic knowledge on re-thinking gene/environment interactions with implications for theories about disease causation.


Elected Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, 2015.

Officer of the Order of Canada, 2010.

Canada Council for the Arts Killam Prize, 2005.

Elected Officier de l'Ordre National du Québec, 2004.

Elected Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada, 1994.

Relevant Publications

M.Lock, "Comprehending Embodiment in the Era of the Epigenome," Current Anthropology vol. 56, pp. 151-177, Apr. 2013.

M. Lock, "Detecting amyloid biomarkers: Embodied risk and Alzheimer prevention," BioSocieties, vol. 8, no. 2, pp. 107-123, May 2013.

M. Lock, "The lure of the epigenome," The Lancet, vol. 381, no. 9881, pp. 1986-1897, Jun. 2013.

M. Lock, "The Epigenome and Nature/Nurture Reunification," Med. Anthropol., vol. 32, no. 4, pp. 291-308, 2013.

M.Lock, "Learning Again to Live with Uncertainty: Postgenomic Knowledge and Genetic Testing," In Rod MacDonald and Louis Maheu eds. The Postgenomic Era and its Social Repercussions, Montreal, McGill Queen’s University Press, Pp. 249-286, 2011.


M. Lock, The Alzheimer Conundrum. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2010.

M. Lock and V. Nguyen, An Anthropology of Biomedicine. Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell, 2010.

P. Atkinson et al, Eds., Handbook of Genetics and Society: Mapping the New Genomic Era. London and New York: Routledge, 2009.

M. Lock and J. Farquhar, Eds., Beyond the Body Proper: Reading the Anthropology of Material Life. Durham, NC: Duke University Press. 2007.

M. Lock, Twice Dead: Organ Transplants and the Reinvention of Death. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2002.



Advisor Humans & the Microbiome


McGill UniversityDepartment of Social Studies in Medicine


PhD (Cultural Anthropology) University of California, Berkeley

MA (Anthropology) University of California, Berkeley

BSc (Biochemistry) Leeds University



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