School of Social and Political Science

Stefan Ecks

Job Title

Senior Lecturer

Stefan Ecks photo

Room number


Building (Address)

18 Buccleuch Place

Street (Address)

Buccleuch Place

City (Address)


Country (Address)


Post code (Address)


Research interests

Research interests

Medical Anthropology, Medical pluralism, Anthropology of Pharmaceuticals, Anthropology of food, Transcultural psychiatry

Topics interested in supervising

I am interested in supervising research in all areas of medical anthropology, especially topics relating to pharmaceuticals, mental health, and South Asia.

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


Stefan Ecks co-founded Edinburgh University’s Medical Anthropology programme. He did ethnographic fieldwork in India, Nepal, Myanmar, and the UK. Recent work focuses on an embodied theory of value, global pharmaceutical markets, changing ideas of depression, poverty and access to healthcare, and relations between multimorbidity and chronic medication use. Publications include Eating Drugs: Psychopharmaceutical Pluralism in India (New York University Press, 2013), Living Worth: Value and Values in Global Pharmaceutical Markets (Duke University Press, 2022), as well as many journal articles on the intersections between health and economics.

PhD Supervision

(completed) Roslyn Malcolm, Horse-assisted autism treatments in the UK and the US (funded by ESRC)

(completed) Bridget Bradley, Hair pulling disorder in the UK and the US (funded by UoE)

(completed) Lilian Kennedy, Alzheimer care in London

(completed) Juan Alberto Claux, Social Psychiatry in Peru

(completed) Carl Denig, The Minor Differences of Narcissism: Narcissistic Personality in Germanophone Europe and North America

(completed) Kimberley Sigmund, Yerbero herbalists in Mexico City

(completed) Cornelia Guell, Chronic Illness at the Margins: Turkish Immigrant Experiences of Type 2 Diabetes in Germany (funded by Wenner-Grenn and ESRC)

(completed) Cristobal Bonelli, Mapuche Healing Cosmologies (funded by the Chilean Government)

(completed) Kate Milosavljevic, Bodies of Memory, States of Health: Disability in Post-conflict Serbia (funded by Wingate Foundation and Edinburgh University)

(completed) Dr (MD) Laszlo Lajtai, Language and Social Inequality in Mauritian Psychiatry

(completed) Tania Porqueddu, Diabetes among South Asians in Edinburgh

Selected publications

2022 Living Worth: Value and Values in Global Pharmaceutical Markets. Durham: Duke University Press.

2021 “Depression, Deprivation, Dysbiosis: Polyiatrogenesis in Chronic Illness.” Culture, Medicine, and Psychiatry.   2021 (with Junko Kitanaka & Harry Wu) The Social in Psychiatries: Depression in Myanmar, China, and Japan. The Lancet.   2021 “’Demand Side’ Health Insurance in India: The Price of Obfuscation.” Medical Anthropology.   2021 “Where Old is Gold Again: Antidepressants in Nepal, 1961-2021.” BioSocieties   2021 “Mental Ills for All: Genealogies of Global Mental Health.” In The Movement for Global Mental Health. Critical Views from South and Southeast Asia, eds. W. Sax & C. Lang. Amsterdam: Amsterdam University Press.   2021 (with Martin Beattie) “Money and the Meaning of Life: Two Kolkata Characters.” Contemporary South Asia.   2021 (with Junko Kitanka) “Depression.” Cambridge Encyclopedia of Anthropology.   2020 “COVID-19, Multimorbidity, Polyiatrogenesis.” Medical Anthroplogy Quarterly.   2020 “A Medical Anthropology of the Global Psyche.” Medical Anthropology Quarterly.   2020 "Coronashock Capitalism: The Unintended Consequences of Radical Biopolitics." Medical Anthropology Quarterly blog.   2020 "We Urgently Need to Understand the Medication Histories of COVID-19 Victims." Somatosphere blog.   2020 "Lockdowns Save, Lockdowns Kill: Valuing Life After Coronashock." Somatosphere blog.…   2019 "Methods in Medical Anthropology: Grounded Theory." International Encyclopedia of Anthropology.  

2018 "Biocommensurations." Anthropology News (online publication:…)

2018 (with Bridget Bradley) "Disentangling Family Life and Hair Pulling: Trichotillomania and Relatedness." Medical Anthropology (online publication:…)

2018 'When the Government Changes, the Card Will Also Change': Questioning Identity in Biometric Smartcards for National Health Insurance (RSBY) in India." Anthropologica 60(2): 190-200.

2017 "The Public and Private Lives of Psychopharmaceuticals in the Global South." In James Davies, The Sedated Society: The Causes and Harms of Our Psychiatric Drugs Epidemic. London: Palgrave Macmillan, pp. 249-269.

2017 (with Roslyn Malcolm & Martyn Pickersgill) "'It Just Opens Up Their World': Autism, Empathy, and the Therapeutic Effects of Equine Interactions." Anthropology & Medicine

2017 "Gas." South Asia: Journal of South Asian Studies

2016 "Ethnographic Critiques of Global Mental Health." Transcultural Psychiatry 53: 804-808.

2015 "'What Is Strange is That We Don't Have More Children Coming to Us': A Habitography of Child Psychiatrists and Scholastic Pressure in Kolkata, India." Social Science & Medicine 125 (in press)

2014 Guest Co-editor (with Michael Oldani), Special Issue of Culture, Medicine & Psychiatry on Humanness and Modern Psychotropy

2014 "'We Always Live in Fear': Anti-depressant Prescriptions by Unlicensed Doctors in India." Special Issue on Psychopharmaceuticals, Culture, Medicine and Psychiatry 38:197-216.

2013 Eating Drugs: Psychopharmaceutical Pluralism in India. New York: New York University Press.

2013 "The Private Market for Anti-TB Drugs in India." In J. Biehl & A. Petryna (Eds.), When People Come First: Critical Studies in Global Health. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.

2010 "A Polyspherology of Psychopharmaceuticals: Globalization, Capitalism, and Psychiatry." In Janis Jenkins (Ed.), Psychopharmacolgy, Imaginary and Self: Studies in Subjectivity and Globalization. Santa Fe: School for Advanced Research Press.

2010 "Near-Liberalism: Global Corporate Citizenship and Pharmaceutical Marketing in India." In Aihwa Ong & Nancy Chen (Eds.), Asian Biotech: Ethics and Communities of Fate. Durham, NC: Duke University Press.

2010 "Spectacles of Reason: An Ethnography of Calcutta Gastroenterologists." In J. Edwards, P. Harvey & P. Wade (Eds.), Technologized Images, Technologized Bodies: Anthropological Approaches to a New Politics of Vision. Oxford: Berghahn.

2009 (with Soumita Basu) "The Unlicensed Lives of Antidepressants in India: Generic Drugs, Unqualified Practitioners, and Floating Prescriptions." Transcultural Psychiatry 46(1): 86-106.

2009 "Welcome Home, Descartes! Rethinking the Anthropology of the Body." Perspectives in Biology & Medicine 52(1): 53-58.

2009 "Three Propositions for an Evidence-based Medical Anthropology." In Matthew Engelke (Ed.), Objects of Evidence. Malden, MA: Wiley-Blackwell.

2008 "Global Pharmaceutical Markets and Corporate Citizenship: The Case of Novartis' Anti-cancer Drug Glivec." BioSocieties 3(2): 165-181.

2008 "Three Propositions for an Evidence-based Medical Anthropology." Special Issue Objects of Evidence, Matthew Engelke (Ed.), Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute, S77-S92.

2008 "B.K. Malinowski"; "E.E. Evans-Pritchard"; "A.R. Radcliffe-Brown." International Encyclopedia of the Social Sciences, 2nd Ed.

2007 (with P.N. Ngang, J. Ntaganira, A. Kalk, S. Wolter) "Perceptions and beliefs about cough and tuberculosis and implications for TB control in rural Rwanda." International Journal of Lung Diseases 11(10): 1108-1113.

2006 (with Angelika Wolf & Johannes Sommerfeld) "Medical Anthropologies in Germany." In F. Saillant & S. Genest (Eds.), Medical Anthropology: Regional Perspectives, Shared Concerns. Oxford: Blackwell.

2005 (edited, with William S. Sax) Special Issue: The Ills of Marginality: New Perspectives on Subaltern Health in South Asia. Anthropology & Medicine 12(3)

2005 "Pharmaceutical Citizenship: Antidepressant Marketing and the Promise of Demarginalization in India." Anthropology & Medicine 12(3): 239-254.

2004 "Bodily Sovereignty as Political Sovereignty: 'Self-care' in Kolkata (India)." Anthropology & Medicine 11(1): 75-89.

2004 (with Robert Frank) "Towards an Ethnography of Indian Homeopathy." Anthropology & Medicine 11(3): 305-324.

Works within