Special Lecture

Dr. Isabelle Lange, Medical Anthropologist, anthropologist working with an interdisciplinary field of global health professionals at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (LSHTM) in the UK delivered a lecture on "Using layered ethnographic methods in clinical settings: the precarity of health workers in private maternal facilities in Rajasthan" on 15 November 2018 at 3.00 p.m. in the seminar room of the Department.

Bio: Dr. Isabelle Lange is a medical anthropologist working with an interdisciplinary field of global health professionals at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (LSHTM) in the UK. Her research interests fall along two main, sometimes overlapping, lines. First is the anthropology of religious and spiritual belief, and understanding identities of faith that influence, in particular, personal senses of meaning, health and well-being.
The second line largely surrounds maternal health in West and East Africa, employing ethnographic methods to investigate: patients’ perceptions of quality of care, hospital environments, quality improvement, care-seeking behaviors, health policy formation and transfer, and knowledge exchange.
Her current research concerns private sector maternal care in India and Uganda, and international communication around policies and guidelines in various consultation processes.

Abstract: Using layered ethnographic methods in clinical settings: The precarity of health workers in private maternal facilities in Rajasthan
As a result of a number of incentive schemes instituted over the last two decades in India, women are now more likely to deliver their babies in medical centres rather than at home. Not only has the public health sector benefited from these initiatives – originally aimed at meeting MDG targets and reducing maternal mortality – the private sector has as well, even though many of these clinics lie outside of the regulation of the State. Using a layered, ethnographic approach focusing on four small non-corporate private maternity hospitals, I turn a critical lens on what it means to work within a self-regulated system and examine the “creation” of a cadre of healthcare workers.

This paper examines how a space of care and business is generated out of the precarious positions of both women and the health workers who depend on employment there. Clinic owners’ staffing strategies centred around hiring unlicensed labour room staff, trained on the job rather than in accredited institutes, who take care of all aspects of patient care, including deliveries. These staff work without rights or recourse, and, in their tenuous positions, are out of the reach of government policies meant to standardize practices surrounding facility childbirth and staff working conditions: few clinics in our sample received any monitoring visits from governmental bodies. Instead, they were involved in programs belonging to a wave of global actors implementing initiatives to work with the private sector in terms of quality of care and service provision standards. These programs operate at the intersections between the realities of clinic owners, professional associations, and central policy debates.

By exploring these narratives, this paper highlights the tensions between the value placed on profit, care and both patient and staff rights in the health sector, and examines how unlicensed health workers are at once marginalized and at the same time in a position of (re)asserting and re-imagining the standard guidelines surrounding maternal health practices of care seeking. Click here for Full report

Dr. Alison Khan, Visual Anthropologist/ Filmmaker, Senior Lecturer in Film and Digital Media Production Oxford Brookes University delivered a lecture on "Visualising fieldwork: Digital Storytelling" on 29 January 2018 at 3.00 p.m. in the seminar room of the Department.

Dr. Alison Kahn was trained as a museum and visual anthropologist at the universities of London (MA) and Oxford (MPhil, DPhil). She works in both the media industry and in academia, lecturing on storytelling, professional practice and documentary film theory and production in the Film and Digital Media Production department at Oxford Brookes University (OBU). She has worked as a producer, researcher writer for the BBC, PBS and Discovery Channel. She is a senior lecturer at OBU, where she integrate the use of audio-visual artefacts and digital media as tools and products of her research. Her doctoral thesis was a fieldwork study investigating the Vatican's Ethnographic and Missionary Exhibition and Museum, which is now in the Bodleian Library, Oxford. She has also worked in collaboration with the Pitt Rivers Museum, University of Oxford on a documentary about the films of two women collector-filmmakers from the 1920s and 1930s, called Captured by Women, which is open access.
She is currently working on two projects that deal with visual research. A written monograph, The Other Great Exhibition: the Pontifical Missionary and Ethnological Exhibition in 1925; and a web-based i-doc bringing together Naga and Anglo-Indian global diasporas to analyse colonial and post-colonial discourses.

Digital technologies have fundamentally changed research practices in the sciences, social sciences, and humanities. However, long-standing and effective methodologies should not be neglected if our pursuit of knowledge is to be holistic and meaningful. Using case studies to discuss visual approaches to research I will explain some of the current thinking around the praxis of audio-visual methods and techniques in the social sciences, and highlight the ongoing transformations of research practices through Internet technologies.

Dr. Gurdeep Kaur, AIIMS will deliver a lecture on the topic entitle “Nutrition Assessment and planning – using Indian Software- Dietcal” on 20 January 2018 at 3.00 p.m. in the Seminar room of the Department.