Biosocial Worlds

Anthropology of health environments beyond determinism

Edited by Jens Seeberg, Andreas Roepstorff, and Lotte Meinert


ISBN: 9781787358249

Publication: September 29, 2020

Series: Culture and Health

Biosocial Worlds presents state-of-the-art contributions to anthropological reflections on the porous boundaries between human and non-human life – biosocial worlds. Based on changing understandings of biology and the social, it explores what it means to be human in these worlds. Growing separation of scientific disciplines for more than a century has maintained a separation of the ‘natural’ and the ‘social’ that has created a space for projections between the two. Such projections carry a directional causality and so constitute powerful means to establish discursive authority.

While arguing against the separation of the biological and the social in the study of human and non-human life, it remains important to unfold the consequences of their discursive separation. Based on examples from Botswana, Denmark, Mexico, the Netherlands, Uganda, the UK and USA, the volume explores what has been created in the space between ‘the social’ and ‘the natural’, with a view to rethink ‘the biosocial’. Health topics in the book include diabetes, trauma, cancer, HIV, tuberculosis, prevention of neonatal disease and wider issues of epigenetics. Many of the chapters engage with constructions of health and disease in a wide range of environments, and engage with analysis of the concept of ‘environment’. Anthropological reflection and ethnographic case studies explore how ‘health’ and ‘environment’ are entangled in ways that move their relation beyond interdependence to one of inseparability. The subtitle of this volume captures these insights through the concept of ‘health environment’, seeking to move the engagement of anthropology and biology beyond deterministic projections.  

Jens Seeberg, Andreas Roepstorff and Lotte Meinert are all Professors of Anthropology at Aarhus University.

List of figures

Notes on contributors


Jens Seeberg, Andreas Roepstorff and Lotte Meinert

1. Permeable Bodies and Environmental Delineation

 Margaret Lock

2. Situating Biologies. Studying Differentiation as Material-Semiotic Practice

Jörg Niewöhner

3. Pig–Human Relations in Neonatology: Knowing and Unknowing in a Multi-Species Collaborative

Mette N. Svendsen

4. Anthropology’s End to Biodeterminism: A New Sociobiology

A. David Napier

5. Tribes Without Rulers: Bacteria Life In The Human Holobiont

Allan Young

6. Biosocial Dynamics of Multidrug-Resistant Tuberculosis: A Bacterial Perspective

Jens Seeberg

7. When Sickness Comes in Multiples: Co-morbidity in Botswana

Julie Livingston

8. Legacies of Violence: The Communicability of Spirits and Trauma in Northern Uganda

Lotte Meinert and Susan Reynolds Whyte

9. Extinction and Time amid Climate Change or, What is a Horizon?Adriana Petryna

Afterword: Getting Closer?

Anna Tsing


Format: Paperback

Size: 234 × 156 mm

228 Pages

8 colour illustrations and B&W illustrations

Copyright: © 2020

ISBN: 9781787358249

Publication: September 29, 2020

Series: Culture and Health

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