Skip to main content

Social Anthropology:


Stefan Ecks

Stefan Ecks
Dr Stefan Ecks
Senior Lecturer; Director PGT
4.28 Chrystal Macmillan Building 15a George Square Edinburgh UK EH8 9LD
+44 (0)131 650 6969
Research Interests
Medical Anthropology, Medical pluralism, Anthropology of Pharmaceuticals, Anthropology of food, Transcultural psychiatry

Guidance and Feedback Hours

  • outside teaching terms: by appointment. On sabbatical leave in Sem. 2, 2019-20

Stefan Ecks co-founded Edinburgh University’s Medical Anthropology programme. He teaches social anthropology and directs PG teaching in the School of Social & Political Sciences. He did ethnographic fieldwork in India, Nepal, and the UK. Recent work explores value in global pharmaceutical markets, changing ideas of mental health in South Asia, poverty and access to health care, as well as multimorbidity. Publications include Eating Drugs: Psychopharmaceutical Pluralism in India (New York, 2013), Living Worth: Value and Values in Global Pharmaceutical Markets (forthcoming), as well as many journal articles on the intersections between health and economics.

PhD Supervision

(completed) Roslyn Malcolm, Horse-assisted autism treatments in the UK and the US (funded by ESRC)

(completed) Bridget Bradley, Hair pulling disorder in the UK and the US (funded by UoE)

(completed) Lilian Kennedy, Alzheimer care in London

(completed) Juan Alberto Claux, Social Psychiatry in Peru

(completed) Carl Denig, The Minor Differences of Narcissism: Narcissistic Personality in Germanophone Europe and North America

(completed) Kimberley Sigmund, Yerbero herbalists in Mexico City

(completed) Cornelia Guell, Chronic Illness at the Margins: Turkish Immigrant Experiences of Type 2 Diabetes in Germany (funded by Wenner-Grenn and ESRC)

(completed) Cristobal Bonelli, Mapuche Healing Cosmologies (funded by the Chilean Government)

(completed) Kate Milosavljevic, Bodies of Memory, States of Health: Disability in Post-conflict Serbia (funded by Wingate Foundation and Edinburgh University)

(completed) Dr (MD) Laszlo Lajtai, Language and Social Inequality in Mauritian Psychiatry

(completed) Tania Porqueddu, Diabetes among South Asians in Edinburgh

Selected publications

2018 "Biocommensurations." Anthropology News (online publication:
2018 (with Bridget Bradley) "Disentangling Family Life and Hair Pulling: Trichotillomania and Relatedness." Medical Anthropology (online publication:
2018 'When the Government Changes, the Card Will Also Change': Questioning Identity in Biometric Smartcards for National Health Insurance (RSBY) in India." Anthropologica 60(2): 190-200.

2017 "The Public and Private Lives of Psychopharmaceuticals in the Global South." In James Davies, The Sedated Society: The Causes and Harms of Our Psychiatric Drugs Epidemic. London: Palgrave Macmillan, pp. 249-269.

2017 (with Roslyn Malcolm & Martyn Pickersgill) "'It Just Opens Up Their World': Autism, Empathy, and the Therapeutic Effects of Equine Interactions." Anthropology & Medicine

2017 "Gas." South Asia: Journal of South Asian Studies

2016 "Ethnographic Critiques of Global Mental Health." Transcultural Psychiatry 53: 804-808.

2015 "'What Is Strange is That We Don't Have More Children Coming to Us': A Habitography of Child Psychiatrists and Scholastic Pressure in Kolkata, India." Social Science & Medicine 125 (in press)

2014 Guest Co-editor (with Michael Oldani), Special Issue of Culture, Medicine & Psychiatry on Humanness and Modern Psychotropy

2014 "'We Always Live in Fear': Anti-depressant Prescriptions by Unlicensed Doctors in India." Special Issue on Psychopharmaceuticals, Culture, Medicine and Psychiatry 38:197-216.

2013 Eating Drugs: Psychopharmaceutical Pluralism in India. New York: New York University Press.

2013 "The Private Market for Anti-TB Drugs in India." In J. Biehl & A. Petryna (Eds.), When People Come First: Critical Studies in Global Health. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.

2010 "A Polyspherology of Psychopharmaceuticals: Globalization, Capitalism, and Psychiatry." In Janis Jenkins (Ed.), Psychopharmacolgy, Imaginary and Self:  Studies in Subjectivity and Globalization. Santa Fe: School for Advanced Research Press.

2010 "Near-Liberalism: Global Corporate Citizenship and Pharmaceutical Marketing in India." In Aihwa Ong & Nancy Chen (Eds.), Asian Biotech: Ethics and Communities of Fate. Durham, NC: Duke University Press.

2010 "Spectacles of Reason: An Ethnography of Calcutta Gastroenterologists."  In J. Edwards, P. Harvey & P. Wade (Eds.), Technologized Images, Technologized Bodies: Anthropological Approaches to a New Politics of Vision. Oxford: Berghahn. 

2009 (with Soumita Basu) "The Unlicensed Lives of Antidepressants in India: Generic Drugs, Unqualified Practitioners, and Floating Prescriptions." Transcultural Psychiatry 46(1): 86-106.

2009 "Welcome Home, Descartes! Rethinking the Anthropology of the Body." Perspectives in Biology & Medicine 52(1): 53-58.

2009 "Three Propositions for an Evidence-based Medical Anthropology." In Matthew Engelke (Ed.), Objects of Evidence. Malden, MA: Wiley-Blackwell.

2008 "Global Pharmaceutical Markets and Corporate Citizenship: The Case of Novartis' Anti-cancer Drug Glivec." BioSocieties 3(2): 165-181.

2008 "Three Propositions for an Evidence-based Medical Anthropology." Special Issue Objects of Evidence, Matthew Engelke (Ed.), Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute, S77-S92.

2008 "B.K. Malinowski"; "E.E. Evans-Pritchard"; "A.R. Radcliffe-Brown." International Encyclopedia of the Social Sciences, 2nd Ed.

2007 (with P.N. Ngang, J. Ntaganira, A. Kalk, S. Wolter) "Perceptions and beliefs about cough and tuberculosis and implications for TB control in rural Rwanda." International Journal of Lung Diseases 11(10): 1108-1113.

2006 (with Angelika Wolf & Johannes Sommerfeld) "Medical Anthropologies in Germany." In F. Saillant & S. Genest (Eds.), Medical Anthropology: Regional Perspectives, Shared Concerns. Oxford: Blackwell.

2005 (edited, with William S. Sax) Special Issue: The Ills of Marginality: New Perspectives on Subaltern Health in South Asia. Anthropology & Medicine 12(3)

2005 "Pharmaceutical Citizenship: Antidepressant Marketing and the Promise of Demarginalization in India." Anthropology & Medicine 12(3): 239-254.

2004 "Bodily Sovereignty as Political Sovereignty: 'Self-care' in Kolkata (India)." Anthropology & Medicine 11(1): 75-89.

2004 (with Robert Frank) "Towards an Ethnography of Indian Homeopathy." Anthropology & Medicine 11(3): 305-324.

Topics interested in supervising

I am interested in supervising research in all areas of medical anthropology, especially topics relating to pharmaceuticals, mental health, and South Asia.

If you are interested in being supervised by Stefan Ecks, please see the links below for more information:

PhD in Social Anthropology; MSc (R) Social Anthropology; MSc (R) Sociology and Anthropology of Health and Illness