School of Social and Political Science

New book publication: The Anthropological Demography of Health

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Kaveri Qureshi, with Philip Kreager from the University of Oxford, and Veronique Petit and Yves Charbit from the Université de Paris, has recently published an edited book, The Anthropological Demography of Health, with Oxford University Press.


The book charts and integrates the growing body of population health research combining ethnography with quantitative methods, and offers a programmatic agenda for future work, based on important conceptual and methodological advances – often informed by working in close collaboration with medical and historical research.

The book shows that anthropological demography has expanded from its initial concern with fertility limitation to encompass a wide range of contemporary global health policy issues, locating these in the context of inequalities. The insights of anthropological demography lie not only in providing knowledge about how cultural and social formations interact with health, but also about the structural constraints and inequalities between sub-populations that prevent health improvement.

The chapters provide a critical understanding of how health problems are manifest, taking into account the multiple perspectives that pertain to different sub-groups in a society. The five parts of the book are (1) the longer view, taking stock of the ambivalent record of Western health interventions, with case studies mapping out the varying approaches and outcomes of health interventions in historical Europe and its colonies, (2) demographic governance, assessing more recent institutional approaches which still promote similar inequalities, ambiguities and dilemmas, (3) demographic translation, where we examine how familiar research and administrative instruments alter, and may indeed misrender health experiences, and point constructively towards critical steps necessary to generate a metalanguage to document and rectify these limitations, (4) compositional and conjunctural demography, where we show how the configurations of local sub-groups and populations shape the choices and conjunctures in which health-seeking and responses occur, and finally (5) reconceptualising reproductive risk, where we return to the issue of reproduction with which anthropological demography began, but with an expanded perspective, now appreciating that if we locate human agency in the sub-groups and network structures in which people face life choices, we see that risks don’t come singly or with simple binary choices.

The book is already being used in postgraduate teaching at the Global Health Policy Unit.

More information can be found here