I moved to the UK in 1995 after having completed a master’s degree in the history of medicine at the University of Innsbruck, Austria and after having gained first experience in lecturing at higher education level. I then completed my studies with a M.Sc. in medical anthropology (Brunel University, London) and a Ph.D. in social anthropology from the University of Cambridge. My research interests have always been on how society, culture and history shape our understanding of how body and mind are related and how this in turn shapes our knowledge of health, illness and disease. I also have an interest in how our knowledge and practices of the management of health and illness are gendered. This has lead me to do research on the rise of autoimmune disorders, the development of gene therapy, and the introduction of the HPV vaccination in Europe.
2006 - currently: lecturer in the sociology and anthropology of medicine, and team leader of the Sociology & Anthropology module, University of East Anglia, Norwich, UK.
2001-2002 Faculty teacher, Faculty of Archaeology and Anthropology, University of Cambridge.
1996-97 lecturer in medical anthropology, Department of Education, Innsbruck University and in anthropology and history, Department of Social History, Innsbruck University, Austria.
1996 Junior Fellow, International Research Centre for Cultural Studies, Vienna
Professional Qualifications and professional memberships
2002 Ph.D. Department of Social Anthropology, University of Cambridge, UK Dissertation ‘Social Performances of an Autoimmune Disorder (SLE): Shifting Knowledge and Practices’ (no corrections)
1996 M.Sc. Medical Anthropology (with distinction), Brunel University of West London, UK
1993 M.A. History, Innsbruck University, Innsbruck, Austria
My research interests are gender and health; sociology of diagnosis; public understanding of medical interventions and medical innovations (HPV vaccination and computerised CBT). I am also interested in how emotions are constructed and acted out within medicine and in medical training.
(2012) The Expert Patient and usage of the Internet. In: The Changing Roles of Doctors, edited by Penny Cavanagh & Sam Leinster, Radcliffe Publishing
(2012) Historical Aspects of Gender in Autoimmunity and the Immune System Discourse. In: Gender and Health. Edited by Tracy Penny Light, University of Waterloo, Canada
(with A.Howe and A. Smajdor) Towards an understanding of resilience and its development in medical training. Medical Education (accepted October 2011)
-2011 (together with A. Smajdor and C. Salter) The Limits of empathy: Problems in medical education and practice. Journal of Medical Ethics 37, 380-383.
-2010 (together with P.Posadzki et.al.) A mixed-method approach to sense of coherence, health behaviors, self-efficacy and optimism: Towards the operationalization of positive health attitudes. Scandinavian Journal of Psychology, 51, 3, 246-252.
-2010 Public Discourses and Policymaking: The HPV Vaccination from the European Perspective. In: Three Shots at Prevention. The HPV Vaccine and the Politics of Medicine´s Simple Solutions. Edited by Keith Wailoo, Julie Livingstone, Steven Epstein and Robert Aronowitz. Baltimore, The John Hopkins Press.
-2007 Complex syndromes, ambivalent diagnosis, and existential uncertainty: The case of Systemic Lupus Erythematosus (SLE). Social Science & Medicine, 65, 7, 1549-1559
2006 Ethnography, Travel Writing and the Self: Reflections on Socially Robust Knowledge and the Authorial Ego. Review Essay: Laurel Richardson & Ernest Lockridge (2004). Travels with Ernest:
Crossing the Literary/Sociological Divide
-2003 Scientific Innovations and the Anthropological Gaze. Anthropology in Action 10, 2-8.
Current Research Projects and Grants
I am involved in qualitative evaluation of computerised CBT interventions; complicated grief in people with learning disabilities (grant pending); and in research on the making of a diagnosis (ESRC grant currently pending).
I am supervising master’s thesis on the lived experience of coping with rehabilitating a partner who has survived a critical illness (Michelle Mantripp); reasons for name change in medium secure psychiatric hospitals (Toral Thomas); a MD on how families cope with having more than one autistic child (Imogen Waterson); Ph.D.s on gender and AIDS prevention in Egypt (Atef Bakhoum); and an ethnographic study on one-to-one care in midwifery (Georgina Sosa).
- 2002 Ph.D. Department of Social Anthropology, University of Cambridge, UK Dissertation ‘Social Performances of an Autoimmune Disorder (SLE): Shifting Knowledge and Practices’
- 1996 M.Sc. Medical Anthropology (with distinction), Brunel University of West London, UK
- 1993 M.A. History, Innsbruck University, Innsbruck, Austria
PMDs and the Moral Specialness of Medicine: An Analysis of the ‘Keepsake Ultrasound’,
in Quantified Lives and Vital Data.
Palgrave Macmillan UK
ISBN 978-1-349-95234-2Full Text UEA Repository
Crosby, C. A Body, Undone. Living on After Great Pain. New York and London: New York University Press. 2016. 232pp. £16 (hbk) ISBN 978–1479833535,
in Sociology of Health & Illness
pp. 647-648Full Text
Hymen reconstruction as pragmatic empowerment? Results of a qualitative study from Tunisia,
in Social Science & Medicine
pp. 54-61Full Text UEA Repository
Common Humanity and Shared Destinies: Looking at the Disability Arts Movement from an Anthropological Perspective,
in Anthropology in Action
pp. 36-43Full Text UEA Repository
The limits of empathy: problems in medical education and practice,
in Journal of Medical Ethics
pp. 380-383Full Text UEA Repository
Migration and health care in the European Union: Perceptions of access to care among migrant parents in Norfolk, England.,UEA Repository
A mixed-method approach to sense of coherence, health behaviors, self-efficacy and optimism: Towards the operationalization of positive health attitudes,
in Scandinavian Journal of Psychology
pp. 246-252Full Text UEA Repository
Public discourses and policy making: The HPV vaccination from the European Perspective,
in Three Shots at Prevention : The HPV Vaccine and the Politics of Medicine's Simple Solutions.
Johns Hopkins University PressUEA Repository
Complex Syndromes, Ambivalent Diagnosis, Existential Uncertainty: The Case of Systemic Lupus Erythematosus (SLE),
in Social Science and Medicine
pp. 1549-1559Full Text UEA Repository
Ethnography, Travel Writing and the Self: Reflections on Socially Robust Knowledge and the Authorial Ego,
in Forum: Qualitative Social Research
Scientific Innovations and the Anthropological Gaze,
in Anthropology in Action
pp. 2-8UEA Repository
Key Research Interests
Participation and decision making of patients in experimental medicine
I am currently researching the impact of gene therapy amongst cancer patients and their attitudes concerning consent to medical experiments. The notion of informed consent will have to be rewritten with the advent of new experimental medicine. This research is designed to illustrate patient’s attitudes towards scientific research in medicine, especially concerning medical scientific trials. The main research question is what leads patients to participate in clinical trials if they know that the outcome of the trial might not beneficial. Questions of altruism are being raised in this context. This research should help medical practitioners, scientists, and patient advocacy groups to come to a better understanding on decision-making progress.
Accountability, responsibility, and uncertainty in biotechnologies:
My doctoral dissertation interrogated the change of knowledge distribution in the medical sciences in a contemporary Western setting. By choosing a case study of an autoimmune disorder (SLE), I traced the genealogy of this autoimmune disorder that have shifted in accordance with developments within bioscientific research of the 20th century. These conceptualisations were not only redefined by developments in bioscientific research, but also through the influence of the public sector (e.g. the Internet and self-help groups). The dissertation deals with the consequences of these developments and shows the impact of public opinion on the ‘hard’ sciences’ as well as on patient’s awareness of science and medicine.
Ethics committees, ‘expert’ knowledge and property rights of patients
My interest is how ethics committees are actually anticipating any kind of risk and thus create a completely new situation of 'forced transparency'. I am not only interested in what lies behind this current trend to make research and clinical trials public, but I also investigate the geneticist’s demand that patients have to become experts of their affliction and their treatment options. The collaboration between geneticists and patients should lead to an acknowledgement of intellectual property rights of the patient. At the moment, the integrity of the patient’s personhood is only guaranteed when it comes to property rights of tissue. The collaboration of patients in their treatment (as exemplified in gene therapy) should thus lead to a new understanding of scientific authorship and intellectual property rights.
The politics of art and science collaborations
The Wellcome Trust Sci/Art programme has given me a research and development grant (‘Topographies of the Possible’) which I am currently holding together with the research group Xperiment!, based in Vienna. This grant enables us to develop strategies to engage with and depict human suffering through artistic lenses. Parts of this grant has been used to develop the installation ‘What is a Body, what is a Person’ that deals with everyday lives of people in vegetative states. The installation has been shown in the exhibition ‘Making Science Public’ at the ZKM in Karlsruhe, which was curated by Bruno Latour and Peter Weibel. We are currently working on how to interpret the notion of ‘informed consent’ from an artistic point of view.
Research Group Membership
Primary Care Group in the School of Medicine, Health Policy and Practice
I am currently lecturing on sociology and anthropology of medicine, qualitative research methodology in health care, and in psycho-social aspects of illness and health, with an emphasis on the phenomenological approach.
External Activities and Indicators of Esteem
- I have been serving as peer reviewer for the Wellcome Trust Science and Society program and I have been a member of the steering committee for the Institute of Advanced Studies in Vienna, Austria.
- 1999-2001 organised the ‘Medical Anthropology Research Group’ in the Department of Social Anthropology, University of Cambridge
- 2005 participation in the exhibition ‘Making Things Public’ at the Centre for Art and Media in Karlsruhe, Germany
I am the lead for the sociology and anthropology domain and the for qualitative research methodology teaching in the MB/BS at the Norwich School of Medicine
- I am advisor to undergraduate MB/BS students; I lead the sociology & anthropology domain in the MB/BS and I have been co-coordinator for the M.Sc. module in psycho-social aspects of health, which is part of the M.Sc. in Health Sciences.