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Personal profile


Lisa L. Wynn is Professor in the School of Social Sciences (Discipline of Anthropology) at Macquarie University in Sydney, Australia.  She received her PhD in 2003 from Princeton University's Anthropology Department, then subsequently held two postdoctoral research positions at Princeton's Office of Population Research and Center for Health and Wellbeing.  Her research has been supported by grants from the Social Science Research Council, the Australian government's Office of Learning and Teaching, and the Australian Research Council, and she has won both the Vice Chancellor’s Teaching Excellence Award from Macquarie University and a national teaching award from the Australian Office of Learning and Teaching.  She has conducted fieldwork in Egypt since 1998, with a focus on tourism, gender, reproductive health technologies, sexuality, and religion. She also conducts research in Australia on ethics review bureaucracies and on lay understandings of infectious disease.  She has served on the editorial boards of Maternal and Child Health Journal and Contraception, and is Associate Editor of the journal American Ethnologist starting in 2022. She has served as President of the Austalian Anthropological Society (2020) and on the AAS Executive Committee (2018-2021). She is the author of 2 monographs, the co-editor of 3 edited books, and has published several dozen book chapters and journal articles.

See Lisa's Google Scholar profie 

Selected publications:


  • Love, Sex, and Desire in Modern Egypt: Navigating the Margins of Respectability (2018, University of Texas Press).

  • Pyramids and Nightclubs (2007, University of Texas Press). Named Leeds Honor Book of 2008 by the Society for Urban, National, and Transnational/Global Anthropology (SUNTA).

Edited Books: 

  • Sex in the Middle East and North Africa (2022, Vanderbilt University Press).  Co-edited with Angel M. Foster.

  • Abortion Pills, Test Tube Babies, and Sex Toys: Emerging Sexual and Reproductive Health Technologies in the Middle East and North Africa (2017, Vanderbilt University Press). Co-edited with Angel M. Foster.

  • Emergency Contraception: The Story of a Global Reproductive Health Technology (2012, Palgrave Macmillan). Co-edited with Angel M. Foster.  


Book Chapters:

  • Wynn, L.L. (2022). “Defining Transactional Sex in Egypt.”  In Sex in the Middle East and North Africa, L.L. Wynn and Angel M. Foster, eds.  Vanderbilt University Press.

  • Foster, Angel M. and L.L. Wynn (2022). “Sex in the Middle East and North Africa: Complicated legacies and the politics of representation.”  In Sex in the Middle East and North Africa, L.L. Wynn and Angel M. Foster, eds.  Vanderbilt University Press.

  • Wynn, L.L. (2021). “Masculinity under siege: the use of narcotic pain relievers to restore virility.”  In Konstantina Isidoros and Marcia Inhorn, eds., Arab Masculinities: Anthropological Reconceptions in Precarious Times. Bloomington: Indiana University Press

  • Wynn, L.L. (2016). “‘Viagra Soup’: Consumer Fantasies and Masculinity in Portrayals of Erectile Dysfunction Drugs in Cairo, Egypt.” In Wynn and Foster, eds., Abortion Pills, Test Tube Babies, and Sex Toys: Exploring Reproductive and Sexual Technologies in the Middle East and North Africa. Nashville: Vanderbilt University Press, pp.159-171.



  • Wynn, L.L. (2021). “The Pandemic Imaginerie: Infectious Bodies and Military-Police Theater in Australia.”  In Strong, Trnka, and Wynn, eds. Colloquy: “Proximity as an Ethical Problem During Covid-19.” Cultural Anthropology 36(3): 350-359, https://doi.org/10.14506/ca36.3.02.

  • Wynn, L.L. and Mark Israel (2018). “The Fetishes of Consent: Signatures, Paper, and Writing in Research Ethics Review.” American Anthropologist, DOI:10.1111/aman.13148.

  • Wynn, L.L. and Angel M. Foster (2018). “Muftis in the Matrix: Comparing Online English- and Arabic-language Fatwas about Emergency Contraception.” Journal of Middle East Women’s Studies 14(3): 314-332.

  • Wynn, L.L. (2017). “What is wrong with ethics review, the impact on teaching anthropology, and how to fix it: results of an empirical study.” The Australian Journal of Anthropology 28(3): 269–285. 

  • Wynn, L.L. and Saffaa Hassanein (2017). “Hymenoplasty, virginity testing, and the simulacra of female respectability.”  Signs: Journal of Women in Culture and Society 42(4): 893-917.

  • Wynn, L.L. (2016). “’Like a Virgin’: Hymenoplasty and Secret Marriage in Egypt.” Medical Anthropology 35(6): 547-559.


Research interests

Lisa has been conducting fieldwork in Egypt since 1998, with a focus on tourism, gender, reproductive health technologies, sexuality, and religion. She also conducts research in Australia on ethics review bureaucracies. She publishes as L.L. Wynn.

Praise for Wynn's books:

Pyramids and Nightclubs (2007, University of Texas Press)

  • Winner of the Leeds Honor Prize from the American Anthropological Association’s Society for Urban, National, and Transnational/Global Anthropology (SUNTA).
  • Translated into Arabic and published by Dar Cadmus Press (Damascus, Beirut).

Love, Sex, and Desire in Modern Egypt: Navigating the Margins of Respectability  (2018, University of Texas Press): 

  • ‘This is an outstanding ethnography and a gripping read....I have not been so engrossed in an ethnography in a long time. Few ethnographies are page-turners, but in this one, I found myself at once sharing Wynn’s clear concern and sympathy for her interlocutors – I cared about them more and more (or in some cases disliked them more and more) as the book went on – and marking theoretical interventions I found exciting, useful, and new.’ (Professor Sarah Pinto, Tufts University)
  • ‘It is deeply ethnographic, with flowing storytelling, which makes a huge contribution to developing a very pure style of ethnographic writing and anthropological analysis. The text comes across as being able to be picked up by anyone in any field, especially the general public... reminds of some real anthropology classics like William Foote Whytes’ Street Corner Society, Bourgois’ In Search of Respect, Schneider’s American Kinship... Allison’s Nightwork, Vankatesh’s Floating City and as I allude to above, the introduction carries a strong essence of Geertz’s short piece on “running” as his opening fieldsite sequence in Bali. I also feel that these (and the author’s) style of ethnographic sequencing of conversations actually holds stronger than Abu-Lughod’s famous attempt in Veiled Sentiments to find a “new” style of writing the field voices. (Dr Konstantina Isidoros, Oxford University)

Emergency Contraception: The Story of a Global Reproductive Health Technology (2012, Palgrave Macmillan), co-edited with Angel Foster

  • “This is an important, timely, and accessible book that fills a significant gap in the literature on global reproductive health.” (Dr Tracy A. Weitz, Director of the Bixby Center at the University of California, San Francisco)
  • “This project breaks new ground. Other books have looked at how science impacts gender, sexuality, and reproductive issues and how it generally politicizes them. This book sets out purposefully to engage this discussion across all regions of the world. Published materials on these aspects of fertility, sexuality, and medical technology are scarce. While isolated articles have been published -- usually by authors included in this book -- they are in scientific journals and generally narrowly written. This book opens a treasure trove of comparative data across regions, religions, and economic systems. It will contribute to a growing literature that questions old assumptions: that religion determines use of medical technology; that state control is absolute; that developed countries have more rational approaches to health technology use.” (Professor Donna Lee Bowen, Department of Political Science at Brigham Young University)
  • “This book is the first to place emergency contraception in a comprehensively global context. It skillfully demonstrates how the reception of and messaging around this contraceptive technology is shaped by specific sociopolitical contexts. A must-read for those interested in policy on women's health and birth control advocacy.” (Professor Heather Munro Prescott, a historian and author of The Morning After: A History of Emergency Contraception in the United States

Abortion Pills, Test Tube Babies, and Sex Toys: Exploring Reproductive and Sexual Technologies in the Middle East and North Africa (2017, Vanderbilt University Press), co-edited with Angel Foster:

  • "Most fascinating for me was learning about the striking differences in the way each nation regulates sexual and reproductive health technologies. In fact, the region was accepting of reproductive technologies in ways that were quite surprising to me. The widespread agreement among Islamic theologians about the permissibility of using contraception and the acceptance of abortion in cases where the pregnancy threatens a woman’s physical health stands in sharp contrast to America’s evangelical stance—an irony that was not lost on me as our national rhetoric routinely casts the Islamic region as having more oppressive policies and attitudes against women…. [the] various essays present a nuanced portrait of Muslim men and masculinity… again offering a healthy departure from Western stereotypes of Muslim men as distant and controlling." (Prof. Dana Berkowitz, Louisiana State University, reviewing the book in Gender and Society)


Lisa has received multiple teaching awards, including Macquarie University’s Vice Chancellor’s Teaching Excellence Award (2009), the Australian Award for Teaching Excellence (2012) from the Office of Learning and Teaching (OLT, part of the Australian Department of Education; see https://www.education.gov.au/award-recipients), and an OLT National Teaching Fellowship (2012-2014). She teaches the most popular undergraduate elective at Macquarie University, Drugs Across Cultures (ANTH106), which had over 1,900 students enrolled in 2018. She also teaches in the fields of medical anthropology, food studies, and research methods.

Research student supervision

Lisa supervises students working on gender, sexuality, medicine and technology, with a particular interest in supervising research on sexual and reproductive health.  Below is a list of some of the student theses that Lisa has recently supervised. 

  • Anupom Roy: “Biomedicine and chronic illness: negotiating knowledge and health in rural Bangladesh”
  • Caroline Grillot: “The Fringes of Conjugality: On Fantasies, Tactics and Representations of Sino-Vietnamese Encounters in Borderlands”
  • Casimir MacGregor: “Science and Controversy: an Historical Ethnography of Stem Cells, Bioethics and Power in Australia”
  • Edwina James: “Intimate Money: the complex relationship of money and intimacy within personal and sexual relationships”
  • Emily Nagle: “Women in Crisis: The Effects of Ireland's 8th Amendment on Women's Abortion Experiences”
  • Heley Sowey: “Perspectives on Forced Marriage in Australia”
  • Kathryn LaRoche: “Exploring Australian patients’ experiences with medication abortion via telemedicine”
  • Kim Pater: “Language and Appearance as Expressions of Identity Among Sydney Sex Workers”
  • Lara Bell: “Bodies through the Machine: An Anthropological Study of Prostate Cancer and Robotic-Assisted Surgery”
  • Leigh Dayton: “Australia’s Quest for the Bionic Eye: Barriers to Innovation”
  • Lindy McDougall: “The biomagical vulva: a ‘clean slit’
  • Lorenza Griffin: “Cosmetic Surgery: Curating Race and Romance in Cali, Colombia”
  • Siobhan Irving: “Moral diversity on the Straight Path: perspectives on sex education, sexuality and romance among unmarried Muslims in Singapore and Australia”
  • Tayhla Ryder: “Coping with chronicity: Exploring women’s experiences living with autoimmune diseases that fluctuate and flare”

Research engagement

Lisa has collaborated with Cambridge Reproductive Health Consultants on in projects to translate academic research into accessible online information resources for the public.  Recently she co-led (with Professor Angel Foster from the University of Ottawa) a massive project to make evidence- based sexual and reproductive health information and resources available online in 6 languages: English, Spanish, French, Arabic, Turkish and Farsi (see for example www.medicationabortion.com and ec.princeton.edu/Arabic). Several million unique viewers have visited the medication abortion website from 208 countries and territories (Foster, Wynn and Trussell 2014). Funded by a fellowship from Macquarie University, she led the creation of a free online ethics training program for researchers in the humanities and social sciences: www.mq.edu.au/ethics_training.

Community engagement

In her spare time, Lisa is a volunteer wildlife rescuer for Sydney Metropolitan Wildlife Services.  She rescues just about every kind of Australian wildlife except for macropods (i.e. kangaroos and wallabies), with a particular interest rescuing and rehabilitating venomous snakes.  You can follow her wildlife rescues on Instagram: @fierceaussieanimals.


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