Medical and psychological anthropology, sleep, global mental health, socio-cultural change in Sub-Saharan Africa, youth and generation, gender and sexuality, development interventions, Foucauldian and neo-Marxist theories
Germany, Uganda, East Africa, Kampala, Gulu
I am a socio-cultural and medical anthropologist who joined the Department ‘Anthropology of Politics and Governance’ as a Senior Research Fellow in October 2020.
Most of my work to date has been situated at the interface between socio-cultural anthropology and African studies, exploring contemporary dynamics on the African continent which are shaped both by local histories and political struggles as well as external interventions and global forms of structural violence. My MA thesis (2008, University of Hamburg) focused on a faith-based organization in Pretoria which attempted to implement participatory forms of social work amidst complex race, gender, and class dynamics in South African society. My PhD dissertation (2014, Göttingen University) analyzed the situation of youth in Gulu, Northern Uganda, in the aftermath of the war between the Lord’s Resistance Army and the Ugandan Government (1986–2006). That research focused on conflicts and negotiations concerning changes in intergenerational and gender relations in the context of wide-ranging efforts to “rebuild” and reimagine post-war Acholi society. My habilitation thesis, which I submitted to Leipzig University in September 2021, examined the recent emergence and popularization of psychotherapy and related discourses, practices and institutions in Uganda. This study analyzed how the rise of “psy” – a framework for interpreting and acting on the self that is based on psychological and psychiatric knowledge and carries particular assumption about mental health, illness, and normality – is linked to broader changes in social relations, imaginations of well-being and suffering, and forms of care.
My new research project – situated at the intersection of psychological anthropology, STS, and the interdisciplinary field of sleep science – is based in Germany and focuses on sleep. I am interested in how knowledge on sleep is produced, applied, and experienced in different settings and by different people.
From 2009 to 2020, I held a position as a ‘Wissenschaftliche Mitarbeiterin’ (lecturer and researcher) at the Institute for Social and Cultural Anthropology of Göttingen University. In 2016/17, I spent the academic year as a research fellow at the Anthropology Department of Washington University in St. Louis, USA, funded by the Volkswagen Foundation. My work has been published in various anthropological and interdisciplinary journals, including Current Anthropology, Ethos, Transcultural Psychiatry, Critique of Anthropology, Culture, Medicine & Psychiatry and the Journal of Modern African Studies.