Whose global, which health? Unsettling collaboration through careful equivocation

Seminar with assistant professor of Anthropology Emily Yates-Doerr, University of Amsterdam

Venue:              CSS locale 10.0.11. Øster Farimagsgade 5A

Time:                 June, 26. Hours 14:30-16:00

Host:                  Centre for Medical Science and Technology


Abstract: As multi-disciplinary research becomes increasingly common, anthropologists are faced with a problem that has been there throughout the history of the field. The terms we have to talk about what we do are very often the same as the terms used by those with whom we work, and yet we are often doing very different things. I draw on a decade of collaboration with scientists working in highland Guatemala to explore how challenges of equivocation are playing out in research focused on maternal/child health during the “first 1000 days of life.” In the collaborations I describe, epidemiologists undertake ethnography, anthropologists study scientists, and Indigenous translators work in languages they do not speak to help interventions and projects proceed. I detail situations in which methods, interests, and goals come together and diverge to argue for the importance of careful equivocation, a research technique attuned to differences between and with/in entities, unsettling binaries without resulting in sameness or unity. I offer suggestions for how this technique might productively reshape the emerging global health imperative to work together.


Bio: Emily Yates-Doerr is Assistant Professor of Anthropology at the University of Amsterdam. She currently holds a Veni grant from the NWO for the project When Global Health Meets Local Development: A Case Study of the ‘First 1000 Days of Life’ Initiative in Guatemala. Her book, The Weight of the Obesity: Hunger and Global Health in Postwar Guatemala (UC Press, 2015) examines the emergence of the diagnostic category of obesity in the city of Xela. She was previously a postdoctoral fellow on Annemarie Mol’s Eating Bodies project, and before this she was in the anthropology department at New York University.