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The Health, Care and the Body Programme Group aims to analyse changing experiences of health and well-being, sexual identities and body regimes, social and cultural factors that influence the use of scientific knowledge in clinical settings, care and self-help practices as well as the exercise of biomedical power and the patterns of resistance to and acceptance of medical regimes and scientific knowledge and technology.
Health, Care and the Body

This Programme Group aims to analyse:

  • Changing experiences of health and well-being, sexual identities and body regimes
  • Social and cultural factors that influence the use of scientific knowledge in clinical settings, care and self-help practices.
  • The exercise of biomedical power and the patterns of resistance to and acceptance of medical regimes and scientific knowledge and technology.

They address a broad range of topics, including research on AIDS/HIV, the body and food, morality, reproductive health, children, crime, pharmaceuticals, genetics, medical technologies and practice. The research cluster has an interdisciplinary character, including researchers working in the fields of medical anthropology and sociology, postcolonial, gender and sexuality studies, and the social studies of (bio)medical science and technology. The Programme Group is divided in 4 subprograms:

  • Globalization and the science and technologies of health policies and practices

    Focussing on the production, distribution, deployment and consumption of biomedical knowledge and technologies; both in clinical and in everyday settings. This subprogram is conducted in close collaboration with the Centre for Social Science and Global Health (SSGH).

  • Young people's health and well-being

    To develop the research field of child and youth health from an anthropological perspective, focussing on young persons as social actors and their understandings and actions concerning health and well-being.

  • Anthropology of crime and violence

    Focussing on phenomena of crime and violence. Crime and violence are considered products of complex socio-cultural relations and scientific and medical interventions.

  • Postcolonial bodies and subjectivities

    Comparative research is being conducted on embodied experiences, the diversity in the configurations of (dis)abled and ageing bodies and the technologies and practices affording them and in the construction of racial, sexual and gendered identities. Like the history of medicines, research on chronically ill patients, queer and gay research, studies of sexuality in relation to HIV transmission, research on trans-gender and trans-sexuality, research on crime and criminal identification and research on the biomedical production of the family.

Our projects
  • Worlds of Lithium: A Multi-Sited and Transnational Study of Transitions towards Post-Fossil Fuel Societies

    Cristóbal Bonelli’s project is an anthropological study that examines how the strategic replacement of fossil fuels with electric transport powered by lithium-ion batteries is taking place in Chile, the largest lithium producer worldwide, China, the world leader in lithium-ion battery production, and Norway, likely to become the world’s first ‘zero emission’ electric vehicle country. A lot of public attention goes to the promise of electric vehicles, meaning less oil will be needed for road transport. What remains hidden, however, are the disruptive transformations of the landscapes and societies through which lithium travels. It is these transformations that Bonelli will bring into public view with his project. In doing so, he will provide an anthropological early warning to European policymakers concerned with the electrification of transport, thus encouraging a better informed discussion of the sustainability of processes currently powering unequal ‘Worlds of Lithium’.

  • Relocating Care within Europe. Moving the elderly to places where care is more affordable

    Described as ‘grandmother deportation’ or ‘geriatric colonialism’, the relocation of elderly people in need of care to care homes abroad can be seen as an extreme example of the marketization and transnationalization of care. In this multi-sited ethnographic project we study this contested trend by researching care homes in Poland, Czech Republic, Slovakia, and Hungary that cater to local wealthier clients as well as seniors from Western European countries such as Germany or Switzerland. Alongside in-depth ethnographic research of daily life in care homes, we speak to care entrepreneurs, intermediary agents, and families. We research the histories of places and regional migration infrastructires to explore what care relocation does to the people and places involved and when and how histories of contested border regions become relevant.


    Given demographic, political, and social developments, the demand for transnational senior care services will continue to grow across Europe.  However, its sustainability is questionable. In the collaborative research project CareOrg we investigate how the ways in which transnational care is organized affect Central and Eastern European countries (including Ukraine) which have become sending, receiving and transit contexts. How is transnational care shaped, formalized, professionalized, and politicized in and across the different countries? How does it affect migrant care workers, their families, communities, labor markets, and the respective welfare states? Our research foregrounds the under-researched and under-theorized so called meso-level of transnational care organization, which includes intermediary agencies, informal and formal platforms and social media, as well as transnationally shared infrastructures. We are dedicated to address diverse audiences – academic, political, social, educational and cultural, both locally and on an international level and hope to contribute to the development of more sustainable and equal long-term senior care in Europe.

  • VETVALUES: Farm animal value-scapes: Veterinarians and the contrasting values of European livestock production

    VetValues is a comparative ethnographic study of how European livestock farming juggles food security and economic viability with mounting concerns about biodiversity loss and global warming, the development of antimicrobial resistance and zoonotic diseases, and the compromised welfare needs of farm animals. Vogel’s project investigates how these – sometimes conflicting – values are negotiated in everyday animal husbandry. The project focuses on veterinarians. As the European Union affords veterinarians an important role in safeguarding public goods within the livestock sector, these professionals are at the heart of the institutional and regulatory arrangements that shape the politics and governance of human and farm animal life. Through ethnographic research in the Netherlands, Sweden and Italy, the team reveals how the livestock sector’s ‘value-scape’ is shaped by farmers, vets, the animals themselves, and regulatory and economic contexts. Vogel’s project aims to contribute theoretical insights on human-animal relations by learning from differences between livestock sectors and innovations within this industry. The research will also improve our understanding of the dilemmas associated with food transitions.


    When people clean their bodies, clothes, or kitchens, they dirty the water. If wastewater is treated, some pollutants are currently removed, while others are allowed to flow out into rivers and oceans. Such complexities form the starting point of this NWO-funded research project, entitled “Clean: an inquiry into co-existing values-in-tension”. How are different variants of ‘clean’ currently being served, neglected or undermined in households and in wastewater treatment plants in the Netherlands? What helps and what hinders attempts to care for different versions of ‘clean’ at the same time? As we pursue these questions, we aim to draw lessons (1) academically, about co-existing repertoires of valuing and about practically doing and undoing cleanliness; and (2) societally, about more or less accommodating ways of serving different versions of clean; and more particularly: the obstacles that attempts to serve ecological cleanliness hit up against.

  • Technopolitics of Digital Media
    • Project leader: Nafis Hasan
    • Project start date: 1 December 2022

    My research draws on years of multi-sited fieldwork among human actors - citizens, bureaucrats, technology experts, and non-human forms - technologies, institutions and laws and policy, producing digitized forms of public governance in the domains of land management, identity, education and health. Global analyses of how states move to digital platforms emphasize their impacts on citizen-state interface. Going deeper, my research, of which an output will appear in a forthcoming issue of American Ethnologist (2024), shows how digital technologies fracture bureaucracies and scatter data to impact the very architecture of government and produce new forms and obligations of citizenship. I show how the bodies of citizens are enrolled into the labour of repairing their own data, thus pointing to the risks of technology on the poor and marginalized. I theorize a new form of labour, ‘Citizen Labour’, as the condition of the digital present, in which bodies are made to labour to exercise basic civil rights as more and more of life is datafied. The research takes seriously a hybridity between media forms, as a condition of postcolonial technology, in which the frame of thinking about data includes not just networked computing systems but also paper documents and accounting, to find continuities rather than disjunctures. My focus on the excesses of datafication are now being extended to a study of the loss of data and cyber-security responses to protecting data, in multiple realms of life including that of health.

Programme Group Leader

Dr. K. (Kristine) Krause

Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences

Programme group: Anthropology of Health, Care and the Body

Research Staff