Susan Reynolds Whyte

Susan Reynolds Whyte


Inspired by the philosophy of pragmatism and by the methods of ethnography, I do research and research training on contemporary social issues. Overall, I am concerned with attempts by persons and societies to secure well-being, with all the contradictions and uncertainties that entails. My work involves various forms of collaboration with colleagues in Denmark and Africa. For over two decades I have been involved in research capacity strengthening projects with universities in Uganda.

Regionally, I have done fieldwork in Tanzania, Kenya, and most extensively in Uganda.

Member of the researcher group Health and Life Conditions.

Research fields:

  1. Lifeworlds and the pursuit of well-being: long term fieldwork in Uganda on pragmatics and management of uncertainty in situations of everyday life and relations to family/significant others; life course, time and inter-subjectivity
  2. Perceptions of health and illness, managing threats to health: conceptions of body, mind, and person, explanations of misfortune, the relation of illness perceptions to possibilities of treatment (research in Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda)
  3. Health care systems, policy and interventions: research in Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda on composite health systems, pharmaceuticals between the public and private sectors, the gap between policy and practice, management of chronic conditions, concept of ‘social technology’
  4. Globalization: the movements of ideas, discourses and commodities working in two topical areas: disability and global health technologies .
  5. Relations between generations: historical and genealogical generations in light of changing economic, political, epidemiological, demographic conditions.
  6. Changing human security: response to transformative historical events such as the AIDS epidemic and armed conflict in Africa

 I am currently working in several multi-disciplinary projects:

  • Community Innovation for Healthy Aging under Centre for Healthy Aging (Copenhagen University)
  • Children and Medicine in Uganda (Makerere & Copenhagen Universities)
  • Governing Transition: Land and Trust in Northern Uganda  (Gulu, Aarhus,  & Copenhagen Universities)
  • Post-conflict Primary Health Care (Gulu, Southern Denmark, & Copenhagen Universities)
  • Building Stronger Universities (Gulu, Aalborg, Roskilde, Aarhus, & Copenhagen Universities
  • Translating Global Health Technologies (Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft Special Priority Programme  ‘Adaptation and Creativity in Africa’)

Selected publications:

Ingstad, Benedicte & S.R. Whyte, eds. 1995. Disability and Culture. Berkeley, Los Angeles & London: University of California Press.

Whyte, S.R. 1997. Questioning Misfortune: The Pragmatics of Uncertainty in Eastern Uganda. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. (Amaury Talbot Prize 1997)

Whyte, S.R., S. van der Geest & Anita Hardon. 2002. Social Lives of Medicines. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Ingstad, Benedicte & SR Whyte (eds.) 2007. Disability in Local and Global Worlds. Berkeley: University of California Press.

Alber, Erdmute, Sjaak van der Geest, SR Whyte (eds.) 2008. Generations in Africa: Connections and Conflicts. Münster: LIT Verlag.

Whyte, S.R. (ed) 2014. Second Chances: Surviving AIDS in Uganda.. Durham: Duke University Press.

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