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The SSGH is a critical hub for researchers from the social science and medical expertises to convene in line with the University of Amsterdam's priority research area of Global Health. To carry out our mission and achieve our vision, we utilise a broad theoretical and methodological approach, which we have laid out below. Below you will also find information about our latest research projects.


To carry out our mission and achieve our vision we utilise a broad theoretical and methodological approach:

  • Multi-site ethnographic studies of the micro-context of particular health phenomena and of the role of culture in health
  • Macro-level studies and analyses of social and economic processes, flows of people, medical technologies, and information, and complex inequalities relating to health
  • Analyses and interventions relating to biopolitics, health finance, ethics, and governance
  • Methodological innovation, development of mixed methods and qualitative methodologies for studying global health issues
  • The development of large international databases of qualitative data relating to global health
  • Historical ethnographies of the origins of existing health-related phenomena
  • Applied problem-solving social science research in clinical and medical research settings
  • Theory-oriented research and theory development as a framework for understanding global health processes

Latest reseach projects 

Our team of expert researchers are continuously working on the most important issues within global health today. Below are some recent grants that have been won in order to pursue these topics.

  • Vital Elements and Postcolonial Moves: Forensics as the Art of Paying Attention in a Mediterranean Harbour Town

    Since 2014, more than 23,000 people have drowned in the Mediterranean. They are usually referred to as border deaths. In her project, M’charek moves the focus away from Europe’s border politics to instead regard the dead bodies in relation to life and sources of livelihood.

    The project begins on the beaches of Zarzis, a coastal town in southern Tunisia, where for more than a decade the bodies of people who crossed the Mediterranean in hopes of reaching Europe have been washing ashore. M’charek’s project asks: How did these bodies end up here? She investigates how the lives of such people are made permanently unlivable. 

    To this end, she is developing the method of 'forensics as the art of paying attention'. By bringing anthropology and forensic science together in this way, M'charek and her team can trace 'vital elements' and the relationships between them. Vital elements are resources that are critical to life and sustenance. Topics discussed include: the extraction of phosphates, fishing for sea sponges, the cultivation of tomatoes, the extraction of water and the disposal of industrial waste.

    Prof. dr. A.A. (Amade) M'charek

    Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences

    Programme group: Anthropology of Health, Care and the Body

  • Ecological Community Engagements: Imagining sustainability and the water-energy-food nexus in urban South African environments (Eco-Imagining)

    Through a transdisciplinary approach, this research aims to emphasize the importance of creative imagination in understanding the water, energy and food security challenges. By working in local, urban contexts, the researchers seek to generate new knowledge about the ways to manoeuvre such precarity.

    By working with local residents and leveraging their understanding of the WEF Nexus, the researchers expect to be able to develop guidelines for partnerships that can help improve the livelihoods, the environment and the general well-being of urban residents in the South African context.

    The UvA Anthropology is working in partnership with University of the Witwatersrand School of Public Health & Global Change Institute, Hannelie Coetzee, universities of Limpopo, Fort Hare, Delft IHE, U Groningen, and the Research Center for Material Culture. NGOs include GenderCC, Ruliv, parastatal Rand Water, plus SA Weather Service and more to deliver the project.

    Prof. dr. E.M. (Eileen) Moyer

    Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences

    Programme group: Moving Matters: People, Goods, Power and Ideas