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Edinburgh Centre for Medical Anthropology: Events


Valuing Health Conference 2018

Edinburgh Centre for Medical Anthropology & Royal Anthropological Institute


Biennial Conference of the Edinburgh Centre for Medical Anthropology

Edinburgh, 4-5 September 2018

Venue: South Hall Complex (18 Holyrood Park Rd, Edinburgh EH16 5AR)

Conference Programme (draft: 23 August)

Staying healthy and recovering from sickness comes at a price. Staying ill means losing time, losing money, losing productivity. Seeing doctors, buying drugs, investing in future health, all cost money. People's willingness to pay can be elicited, benefits need to be maximized while costs need to be minimized. Return of investments in health are measured for individuals and whole populations. Disability-adjusted life years, efficiency savings, the marginal utility of life are all calculated with as much accuracy as possible. Good health is taken as an incalculable value, while the means to achieve it are presented as calculable values. Mathematics, statistics, and economic formulas set the terms for how international, national institutions and private corporations are approaching the health of human beings, of nonhuman beings, and of the environment. Medical anthropologists have long been aware of how health is approached economically and metrically, without usually looking at the details of how numbers are collected and put to use. Many engagements stop at invoking neoliberalism or late capitalism. At the same time, anthropology's toolkit exceeds a narrow focus on economics and can open rich discussions on value beyond money. The Edinburgh Medical Anthropology Centre's biennial conference will assemble new anthropological research how health is valued today. We invite scholars working on the health of humans, of animals, and of habitats are invited to rethink what it means to make value measurable in economic terms. Who is producing numbers, and to what end? What evidence counts, which evidence does not count? What forms of knowledge, belief, or perhaps strategic ignorance, are revealed and hidden by the values put on health? Does the value of health change when kinship and social relations, ritual and religion, affect and emotions, belonging and exclusion, are made to count?

Lunches (South Hall Complex):

4 September: 13:15-14

5 September: 13-13:45

Tea/coffee (South Hall Complex):

4 September, AM: 10:30-10:50

4 September, PM: 15:20-15:40

5 September, AM: 10:20-10:40

5 September, PM: 15:05-15:25

Drinks reception (South Hall Complex):

4 September: 18-20


4 September, 9-9:45, South Hall

Keynote:  Questioning the Value of Growth

Julie Livingston

4 September, 9:45-10:30, South Hall

Keynote: Valuing Health in Conditions of Precarity

Anita Hardon

4 September, 12:30-13:15, South Hall

Plenary dialogue: Valuing Life and Death

Recalibrating the Metrics of Life and Death in the Pursuit of Moral Science

Lesley Sharp

Failing Organs: rethinking (bio)metrics and the value of evidence in contexts of uncertainty

Ciara Kierans

Brain Food:  Mindful Eating and Metrics of Wellbeing

Nancy N. Chen

5 September, 16:30-17:15, South Hall

Keynote: Valuing the Ends of Life

Christopher Davis

5 September, 17:15-18, South Hall

Plenary roundtable: Valuing Health

Livingston, Hardon, Davis, et al.


4 September, 10:50-12:20, South Hall

Valuing the burdens of infectious diseases

CHAIR: Ian Harper

Valuing life in the time of Ebola

Melissa Parker

Creating Zika: Health Statistics, Models, and Epidemic Uncertainty

Rebecca Henderson

The human reservoir and suspicion of health

Jenna Grant

Producing the data: locating value in the local biological

Rosie Sims

Valuing tests over treatment: management of drug-resistant tuberculosis 

Jens Seeberg

4 September, 10:50-12:20, Kirkland

Valuing ageing


(Un)Successful Ageing? Dementias and the Value of Cognitive Health

Cristina Douglas

Valuing life: Normative and moral frames at the end of life with dementia

Natashe Lemos Dekker

Curators of personhood and life: Caring for dementia in the Danish Welfare State

Iben Mundbjerg Gjødsbøl

Better off Dead or Alive?: Twenty-first century American elders experience of worth

Carrie Ryan

4 September, 10:50-12:20, St Trinnean's

Valuing nutrition

CHAIR: Rebecca Marsland

Reframing nutrition transition: a case study from Trinidad

Marisa Wilson

Modernization, Anthropology, and Obesity in Mongolia

Keiko Kanno

Material-Semiotic Indeterminacy: Reworking the Social Determinants of Health

Emily Yates-Doerr

Is food a medicine? Economic challenges in the case of rare metabolic disorder

Anna Chowaniec-Rylke

Eating habits in Mexico: Questioning "scale"

Rodney J Reynolds

4 September, 14-18, South Hall

Valuing different bodies

CHAIR: Anita Hardon

Dying of Whiteness: The Mortal Politics of U.S. White Supremacy in the Age of Trump

Jonathan M. Metzl

Demographic governance, debility and biological citizenship: contesting the value of migrant bodies

Kaveri Qureshi

Labours of Recovery: Addiction, redemption and the entrepreneurial spirit in Puerto Rican therapeutic communities

Caroline M. Parker

The securitisation of migrant and ethnic minority mental health in the UK

Philipa Mladovsky

Banking on Blood: The Science, Market and Traditional Methods of Umbilical Cord Blood Storage in South India

Amishi Panwar

Potentiality, Dignity and Non-Sterility: Negotiating the Value of Life When Pigs Substitute Humans in Experimental Transplantation Research.

Anja Marie Bornø Jensen and Mette Nordahl Svendsen

The Value of Grief: Whose Grieving Matters

Sydney Yeager

4 September, 14-18, Kirkland

Valuing care & carers


Valuing Education in Health: Perspectives on Medical Student Experiences in Surgery

Debbie Aitken & Jan Vermunt

Affective Bio-metrics in Lithuanian Health Care

Rima Praspaliauskiene

Health Professional Value(s): The Branding of Cuban Medical Services

Naomi Schoenfeld

“Expanded doctors”: the ethnography of post-socialist healthcare and new professional self-identification in Polish primary care

Hubert WierciƄski

Working while being on an IV: why doctors pay so little attention to their own health?

Adrianna Beczek

Boredom in Healthcare: Translations of Value in American Primary Care

Michael Esveldt

Value in American Health Care: How Models of Physician Culture Covary with Health Care Utilization Patterns

Emmy Hall Ganos & Elaine Drew

Between Eminence and Evidence? The Value of Exclusive Knowledge in Unani Medicine

Kira Schmidt Stiedenroth

4 September, 14-18, St Trinnean's

Valuing mental health

CHAIR: Alex Edmonds

The Problem of Value(s) in Global Mental Health: Reflections from Post-Earthquake Nepal

Liana E. Chase

Vital Signs: Mental Health, Public Health, and the Health of the State in Cameroon

Elizabeth Durham

The Cost of Crisis: Valuing Evidence, Efficacy, and Expense in Psychiatric Hospitalization

Lauren Cubellis

Taking the (national) waters: state reverence and the spiritual afterlives of Soviet sanatoria in Mongolia

Elizabeth Turk

Measuring Mindfulness: The Ethics of Making Meditation Count

Kitty Wheater

In dialogue with evidence: struggles with value and knowledge production in the UK’s mental health care system

Fiona Wright

Re-imagining therapeutic relationships: mutual-help approaches among mental health activists in times of crisis

Keira Pratt-Boyden

“No Dumping!”: Sensing value in a voluntary mental health service in inner London.

Natassia Brenman

5 September, 9-13, South Hall

Valuing pharmaceuticals

CHAIR: Stefan Ecks

Framing the In/Valuable: Making and Marking Zones of Invaluability in Pharmaceutical Product Development

Trenholme Junghans

The price of a possible recovery: Clinical work, shareholder value, and the hospital as a site for profit extraction

Jonas Kure Buer

Paracetamol, health care workers and entangled regimes of value in Malawi

Laura Sikstrom

Valuing health, valuing family and valuing intravenous (IV) treatment in rural Anhui, China

Meixuan Chen & Christie Cabral

A Moral Anthropology of Study Drugs

Brandon J. Moskun

5 September, 9-13, Kirkland

Valuing noncommunicable conditions

CHAIR: Maya Unnithan

Alternative Logics of Breast Cancer, Risk, and Environment: Eco-social Perspectives and the View from Silent Spring

Mary Anglin

Atmospheric healing? Co-constructing the value of health in the field of anthroposophic cancer care in Germany

Eva Jansen

Living from experience: Studying chronic lung disease in the North of England

Fredrik Nyman

Being an (un)healthy researcher: The assumptions behind the healthy standard

Élaina Gauthier-Mamaril & Laura Wigley

The Power of Disease: Professional Patients and the Commodification of Disease in Egypt

Mustafa Abdalla

Valuing the immeasurable and the struggle to articulate ‘good care’

Megan Clinch

5 September, 9-13, St Trinnean's

Valuing lives with HIV

CHAIR: Karina Kielmann

Experiencing “AIDS in Africa”: Needle-Stick Injuries, Global Health Pedagogies, and the Valuing of Expertise in Botswana

Betsey Brada

The Shifting Value of Community-Based HIV Care in Kenya

Eileen Moyer

Bad Clients and Leaking Viruses: HIV and Moral Neutrality in Northern Uganda

Sarah O’Sullivan

HIV, Human Rights and Cost-Effectiveness

Sara L.M. Davis

Losing value to the bureaucratization of aid

Ayaz Qureshi

Same drugs, new values: From life and health to trust, pleasure, and intimacy

Ryan Whitacre

Pharmaceuticalised HIV prevention: the cost-effectiveness of PrEP in England.

Sara Paparini

The Price of Pleasure, or the Surfeits of Sexuality? Pharmaceutical Circulations, Queer Personhood, and Derivative Subjectivity in Global Biofinance

Kirk Fiereck

5 September, 13:45-16:30, South Hall

Valuing health data


How Health Got Valued: The Cold War Origins of Health Economics

Jonny Bunning

Measuring Health for All: Universal Health Coverage and Global Health Metrics

Marlee Tichenor

Something old, something new: Measuring wealth and health at the intersection between economics and anthropology.

Federica Guglielmo & Eve Worrall

A ‘Digital Phenotype’? Non-Medical Data and the Value of Health

Lukas Engelmann

Measuring the ‘quality’ of life and the ‘health’ of research: Cultural replication and conceptions of value across two domains

Kirsten Bell

Valuing Health in New Ways: Community Health Workers (CHWs), Activism, and New Approaches to Increasing Health Equity

Ryan I. Logan

The Cost of Becoming a Global Health Hero: Medical Education and Transnational Aspirations in Haiti and the United States

Pierre Minn

5 September, 13:45-16:30, Kirkland

Valuing health financing


Speculative Epistemologies and Old/New Forms of Value in Global Health Financing

Susan Erikson

Family Values: On the Making and Fracturing of Insurance Families

Jessica Mulligan

Marketing selves, marketing sickness: Life, stories, data and value in medical crowdfunding campaigns

Nora Kenworthy

Quantifying qualia: risks to wellbeing in U.K. welfare benefits protocols

Kelly Fagan Robinson

The Role of Bonus Payments in Creating Value Among Health Workers in Tanzania’s Results Based Financing Scheme

Sarah Tobin, Michelle Remme, and Farida Hassan

A City of Care? Community Healthcare in Austerity Spain

Janina Kehr

Making death count: Anger, protest and the struggle for public health care in Kenya

Ruth Prince

5 September, 13:45-16:30, St Trinnean's

Valuing sex & reproduction


Abortion care as a cultural politics of ‘value’: ethnographic reflections on selective reproduction in the UK

Ben Kasstan & Maya Unnithan

“Guilty until proven innocent”: the contested use of maternal mortality indicators in global health

Katerini T. Storeng & Dominique Behague

Balancing care and profit: unlicensed health workers in private maternal clinics in India

Isabelle Lange

Quality over quantity: the true cost of counting maternal death in Mexico

Jenna Murray de López

Contested Care: Valuing Transgender Surgical Patients in the US

Eric Plemons

Visualizing global reproduction data

Rachel Irwin

Medicalization Imperatives and Paradoxes: Hymenoplasty Practices in North America

Verena Kozmann

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