Rosie Jones McVey is a social anthropologist with key interests in research relating to minds, mental health, behaviour, ethics and morality.
Perhaps surprisingly, Rosie’s background is in horse training. Rosie’s first career involved retraining ‘problem’ horses, including in live demonstrations around the world, working closely with renowned ‘horse whisperer’ Kelly Marks. This led to travels to learn about horse training in different cultures, which Rosie has written about in her book “Globtetrotting: A Travelogue of Horsemanship in Far Flung Places”. It didn’t take much for Rosie’s interest in equine minds to shift to an interest in the minds of the human riders and owners who each interpret horses so differently.
Rosie completed a PhD at Cambridge University 2014-2018, studying the ethical lives of British horse owners. Set amid a context of ‘revolution’ against traditional training methods, Rosie focussed on how British horse riders strived towards a profound connection with their mounts, critiquing one another, and concerning themselves, with instances of misinformation, disconnection, or misunderstanding. In this way, British horsemanship provided an exemplary case of a much broader contemporary unease surrounding the sorts of knowledge that can legitimately ground ethical lives. The PhD was developed into a book, “Human-horse Relations and The Ethics of Knowing” which was published in 2023. From this research, Rosie has written about the role of animals within ethical life [link here], and the importance of ‘modern’ understandings of mind within contemporary equestrian ethics [link here].
Rosie then worked as a Teaching Associate in the Anthropology Department at Cambridge University for a year, before taking up a Junior Research Fellowship at Christ’s College, Cambridge, to study ethical life within Equine-Assisted Therapies for UK Youth. While the project drew on longstanding interests relating to cultural understandings of minds and behaviours, this research marked a turning point for Rosie in that it motivated a desire to complete engaged research with social justice and health outcomes in mind, for example, Rosie has written about the role of ethics and power in goal setting procedures in youth therapy here.
Rosie now has a Wellcome Trust funded fellowship, to investigate the ‘moral terrain’ of green social prescribing. Green social prescribing is a government initiative to address health inequalities through improving access to nature, and you can read more about the project here.
Rosie would love to hear from anybody working on similar themes!