School of Social and Political Science

Alice Street

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Senior Lecturer

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22 George Square

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Academic profile

Investigating Diagnostic Devices in Global Health

In 2017 I started a European Research Council funded project on diagnostic devices in global health. The DiaDev project, Investigating the Design and Use of Diagnostic Devices in Global Health, explores the emergent role that diagnostic devices are playing in the transformation of global health partnerships and national health systems in low and middle-income countries. Drawing on novel conceptual and methodological tools from social anthropology, it investigates the social, cultural and technical processes involved in developing, deploying and using diagnostic devices in resource-limited settings. The goal is to improve our understanding of relationships between technological innovation and health systems strengthening, with a view to guiding global health policy.

Hospitals in Resource-Limited Settings

Research onhospitals in resource-limited settings explores the ways in which people engage with biomedical technologies in conditions of uncertainty and precariousness. My book, Biomedicine in an Unstable Place: Infrastructure and Personhood in a Papua New Guinean Hospital is published by Duke University Press.

Global Health in Fragile States

Research on global health governance has examined the ways in which managerial technologies travel to places of state absence or fragility. I am interested in the ways in which managerial knowledge practices have increasingly underpinned global health in recent years and the emergence of management as form of a state-building in an era of securitisation. Drawing on ethnographic fieldwork in a government health office it has examined issues of bureaucratic materiality and managerial personhood and expertise.


Research on 'Off the Grid' infrastructures examines the relationships that are built into and sustain physical infrastructures for health in locations that are beyond the reach of centrally planned public infrastructures. I examine “humanitarian goods”, such as rapid diagnostic kits or fortified foods, that are developed through public-private partnerships as technical solutions to fragile health systems. In 2013 I was awarded one of the ESRC’s first grants under its new ‘Transforming Social Science’ scheme for a comparative study of infrastructures for living “off the grid”.

I received my PhD in Social Anthropology from the University of Cambridge in 2008. I held an ESRC Postdoctoral Fellowship and a Nuffield New Career Development Fellowship at the University of Sussex until I moved to Edinburgh in 2013.

Publicly Available Lectures

Rethinking Infrastructure for Global Health

The Nutraceutical Self

Technologies Designed for Sparse Environments

Mobile Laboratories: Integrating Diagnostics with Health Infrastructure

For further information please visit my profile on Academia 

Find more information on our MSc in Medical Anthropology page

Selected Publications

Street, Alice (2018). Deep Diagnostics. In Humanitarian Goods/Little Development Devices, Limn Issue 9. Available at:

Street, Alice (2018). The Testing Revolution: Investigating Diagnostic Devices in Global Health. Somatosphere Diagnostic Stories Series.

Street, Alice. "The hospital and the hospital: Infrastructure, human tissue, labour and the scientific production of relational value." Social studies of science 46.6 (2016): 938-960.

Street, Alice (2014). When Comparison Comes First: Reflections on Medical Anthropology Theory. Medical Anthropology Theory, 1(1): 34-41

Street, Alice (2014). Food as Pharma: Marketing Nutraceuticals to India's Rural Poor. Critical Public Health, 2014.

Street, Alice (2014). Biomedicine in an Unstable Place: Infrastructure and Personhood in a Papua New Guinean Hospital. London, Durham: Duke University Press.

Street, Alice (2014). Introduction: Social Theory after Strathern (co-authored with Jacob Copeman). Theory, Culture and Society Special Issue, edited by Jacob Copeman and Alice Street, Vol 31(2/3): 7-38.

Street, Alice (2012) Seen by the state: bureaucracy, visibility and governmentality in a Papua New Guinean Hospital. The Australian Journal of Anthropology, 23 (1). pp. 1-21. ISSN 1035-8811

Street, Alice and Coleman, Simon (2012) Introduction: Real and imagined spaces. Space and Culture, 15 (1). pp. 4-17. ISSN 1206-3312

Street, Alice (2012) Affective infrastructure: hospital landscapes of hope and failure. Space and Culture, 15 (1). pp. 44-56. ISSN 1206-3312

Street, Alice and Coleman, Simon, eds. (2012) Special Issue: Hospital Heterotopias: ethnographies of biomedical and non-biomedical spaces. Space and Culture, 15 (1). Sage. ISBN 1206-3312

Street, Alice (2011) Artefacts of not-knowing: the medical record, diagnosis and the production of uncertainty in Papua New Guinean Biomedicine. Social Studies of Science, 41 (6). pp. 815-834. ISSN 0306-3127

Pollard, Amy and Street, Alice (2010) Anthropology through development: Putting development theory into practice. Anthropology Matters, 12 (2).

Street, Alice (2010) Belief as Relational Action: Christianity and Cultural Change in Papua New Guinea. Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute, 16 (2). pp. 260-278. ISSN 1359-0987

Cross, Jamie and Street, Alice (2009) Anthropology at the Bottom of the Pyramid. Anthropology Today, 25 (4). pp. 4-9.

Street, Alice (2009) Failed Recipients: Extracting Blood in a Papua New Guinean Hospital. Body and Society, 15 (2). pp. 193-215. ISSN 1357-034X

Research interests

Research interests

Anthropology of Melanesia, Biomedical knowledge(s), practices and technologies, hospital ethnography, State building, International development, Bureaucratic Power, nutraceuticals

Topics interested in supervising

I am interested in supervising students working in the areas of Melanesia, biomedicine, hospital ethnography, management knowledge, bureaucracy, anthropology of the state.

If you are interested in being supervised by Alice Street, please see the links below (open in new windows) for more information:

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Staff Hours and Guidance

I am currently on research leave. Please make an appointment by email.