Department of Anthropology >
Department of AnthropologyØster Farimagsgade 5 opg. B, Postb1014 København K
CSS - Bygning 16, Opgang i, 16.0.10Phone: +45 353-24451Phone (Reception desk): +45 353-23464E-mail:
Over the last decade or so, my research has gravitated around medicine and health as crucial sites of problematisation, activity and self-formation. I have examined the ways in which different concepts, objects and subjects co-circulate in the stabilization and contestation of certain medical fields, namely traditional/alternative medicine and (more recently) reproductive medicine. My PhD – Modernisation and Its Side Effects – was a comparative examination of the cotemporaneous revivals of traditional herbal medicine in the United Kingdom and Vietnam since the mid-20th century. I show how herbal medicine comes to be mobilised in very different ways in the two national contexts, albeit within frameworks of modernisation/colonisation critique. In particular, I argue that the revival of herbal medicine in the United Kingdom played its part in the emergence of ‘a quackery with a difference’ as regulatory strategies of restricting access to herbal medicine were replaced by strategies aiming to responsibilise and normalise its practice and use. In Vietnam, I show how a national campaign to revive traditional herbal medicine was intimately linked to post-colonial nation-building efforts which were intent on reclaiming a subjugated ‘Vietnamese’ past and hence contributed to the making up of post-colonial Vietnamese subjectivities.
It was through my work within the field of traditional/alternative medicine that I first became interested in issues around the notion of ‘quality of life’, an interest I have carried over to the empirical field in which I currently work: reproductive medicine. I am specifically interested in how notions of quality of life, biological quality and population quality overlap and jar in the development and contestation of selective reproductive technologies – technologies which aim to prevent or promote the birth of certain ‘kinds of living’.
In January 2011, I received a Sapere Aude Young Researcher award from the Danish Council of Independent Research for a three-year project entitled “Exchanging ‘good' life - socio-technical imaginaries in a Chinese sperm bank”. Through this project I will explore how scientists working in a Chinese sperm bank relate their daily work and routines in the laboratory to broader national concerns around reproduction - whether or not to reproduce, who should reproduce, how to reproduce? The ethical and social implications of, for example, China's one-child policy have been widely debated and explored. My research, on the other hand, aims to examine how reproductive scientists reflect on their work in relation to national aspirations, for example, to control population quantity and improve population quality.¿
Medical anthropology, anthropology of science, science and technology studies, traditional medicine, alternative medicine, reproductive technologies, quality of life, life and biological/biomedical research, vitality, ethics of human subjects research, the 'bio-' prefix