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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:

  1. 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).
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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

  • Global Future Health: A Multi-sited Ethnography of an Adaptive Intervention

    The proposed research project is a multi-sited ethnography of an emergent global health intervention to improve nutrition in the first 1000 days of life.

    The intervention links growth during this 1000-day window to chronic and mental illness, human capital, food security, and ecosystem sustainability, positing early life nutrition as the key to meeting the United Nations’ sustainable development goals. The intervention draws numerous disciplines and geographic regions together in a holistic pursuit of a sustainable and healthy collective future. It then unfolds in different settings in diverse and localized ways. The research team will work with first 1000 days experts as well as study deployment sites in the Netherlands, Guatemala, and the Philippines. The innovative anthropological techniques of contrasting and co-laboring will allow us to both analyze the intervention and contribute to its further fine-tuning. Health experts currently recognize that there are social complexities within and differences between the sites involved, but tend to treat these as obstacles to overcome. The innovative force of our research is to consider the adaptive transformations of the intervention as a source of inspiration rather than a hindrance. Where experts currently prioritize the question of how to translate expert knowledge into interventions in the field, we will ask how lessons from the field might be translated back into expert knowledge and, where relevant, made available elsewhere. In the process we will enrich the anthropological repertoire, moving it beyond a choice between criticism or endorsement, turning living with/in difference into both a social ideal and a research style.

    • Period: January 1, 2018 - December 31, 2022
    • Funding: EU ERC
  • Worlds of Lithium: A Multi-Sited and Transnational Study of Transitions towards Post-Fossil Fuel Societies

    Cristóbal Bonelli

    ERC Starting Grant

    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’.

Programme Group Leader

Dr K. (Kristine) Krause

Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences

Programme group: Anthropology of Health, Care and the Body

Research Staff