Peter H. Stephenson

Peter H. Stephenson
Professor Emeritus



PhD Toronto

Area of expertise

Applied and medical anthropology, aging & society, ethics, refugees

My research focuses on the experience of people who are members of highly vulnerable and/or isolated groups; such as refugees, the very old, migrants and people who are very ill, or in anguish.

How researchers who wish to be of assistance to people in vulnerable groups can work together with them without causing further harm is a basic ethical consideration and has served as the focus for many of my recent research projects.

Just how the results of such research can be used in planning, housing, health services delivery, etc. constitutes the great majority of my work.


  • Applied and medical anthropology
  • Aging & society
  • Ethics
  • Refugees

Current projects

Seniors' experience of medication

I am currently working on two projects that may engage graduate students; one is a study of the ways in which seniors experience medications.

The grant for the preliminary research has just been completed and involved one MA student from UVic. Along with my colleagues at the Centre on Aging, we are creating a larger grant application based on our findings to do health promotion in the broad area of adverse drug reactions among seniors on Vancouver Island.

Parental bereavement

A second project with potential for some student engagement deals with parental bereavement. That work also involves Dr. Lisa Mitchell (UVic, Anthropology) and both graduate student and faculty scholars at McGill (Pediatric Oncology) and Wilfred Laurier (Social Work) along with community partners at Victoria Hospice and Canuck Place Children’s Hospice, in Vancouver.

Selected publications


  • 2010 - Contesting aging and Loss (Co-Editor, with J. Graham) Toronto: University of Toronto Press.
  • 2010 - Zombie Factory: Culture, Stress and Sudden Death, (co-author, with M. Korovkin, M.D.) Sheffield, VT: Green Frigate Books.
  • 1995 - A Persistent Spirit: Towards Understanding Aboriginal Health in British Columbia (Senior Editor) with S. Elliott, L. Foster, and J. Harris. Western Geographical Series, Vol. 31, Victoria: University of Victoria, Western Geographical Press (distributed by UBC Press).

Articles and chapters

  • 2013  - (in press)  MacDonald, M.E. Susan Cadell, Stephenson, P.H., Mitchell, L.M., Moll, S. and K. Kennedy < Excluding Parental Grief: A Critical Discourse Analysis of Bereavement Accommodation in Canadian Labour Standards, for publication in WORK: A Journal of Prevention, Assessment & Rehabilitation.
  • 2012 - Mitchell L. Stephenson, P., Macdonald, M. E. and S. Cadell. “Death and Grief On-Line: virtual memorialization and changing concepts of death and bereavement on the Internet”. Health Sociology Review 21 (4):413-431.
  • 2012 - Beuthin R., Holroyd A., Stephenson P. and B. Vegsund "Metaphors and Medication: Understanding Medication Use by Seniors in Everyday Life", with, Canadian Journal of Nursing Research, Volume 44. Number 3:150-168.  Abstract: .
  • 2012 - Holroyd A., Vegsund B., Stephenson P., and R. Beuthin.  “Medication use in the context of everyday living as understood by seniors” International Journal of Qualitative Studies Health Well-being, 7: 10451 - (May 7).
  • 2012 - “Mold Growth in On-Reserve Homes in Canada: The Need for research, Education, Policy, and funding”. Journal of Environmental Health.  Volume 74. Number 6: 14-21. (With M. Optis, K. Shaw and P. Wild).
  • 2011 - “A Participatory process for the design of housing for a First Nations community” Journal of Housing and the Built Environment. DOI 10.1007/s10901-011-9253-6.  Published online Dec. 20, 2011. (With T. MacTavish, M.-O. Odile, M. Optis, P. Wild and K. Shaw). 
  • 2004 - Health Care, Religion and Ethnic Diversity in Canada, in Paul Bramdat and David Seljak, (Eds)., Religion and Ethnicity in Canada, Pp. 201-221. Pearson Longman: Toronto.
  • 2001 - “Expanding Notions of Culture and Ethics in Health and Medicine to Include Marginalized Groups:  A Critical Review”, Anthropologica, XLLIII:1-15.