As Ursula Probst will step down at the end of August, it is time to elect the next MAYS coordinator!

This year, we have five candidates:
– Anthony Rizk
– Ben Epstein
– Ilaria Bracaglia
– Paula Morgado
– Raluca Cosmina Budian

Each of the candidates provided us with information about their interests, experience, and goals for MAYS.  Please read through the information they provided below and then please submit your vote for who you would like to be the next MAYS coordinator (a two-year term) and the person who will take the lead in planning the next MAYS Meeting.

The election will close on 26. August 2019.

Anthony Rizk

Short synopsis of your research interests and project

I am from Lebanon and currently a PhD student in the Department of Anthropology and Sociology at the Graduate Institute of Geneva. I first studied medical laboratory sciences, and my research project, in the anthropology of global health and infectious disease, is an ethnography of laboratory medicine focusing on the bio-economies involved in the movement of antimicrobial resistant pathogens between laboratories in the Middle East. I am also part of a project at the Global Health Centre at the Graduate Institute of Geneva working on the political economy and global governance of pathogen and benefit sharing. Before starting a PhD, I studied antimicrobial resistance, war and healthcare in Tripoli and have written on sexuality and gender politics in Lebanon.

Experiences that speak to your eligibility for the role

Coming from a region where medical anthropology is underrepresented, I am very grateful for a network like MAYS. I attended the last MAYS conference in Turin, where I met some wonderful people and benefited from learning from their experiences and sharing mine. I also joined the team that has been updating the MAYS website with information for students on medical anthropology programs worldwide, which will hopefully help connect students to medical anthropologists and relevant programs. In terms of organizational experience, I worked as a research assistant at the American University of Beirut between 2012 and 2016, during which I assisted in organizing and later co-organizing a number of conferences and meetings with epidemiologists and anthropologists. I’ve also been an organizer with several social and political activist organizations, all of which involved a careful attention to the politics and dynamics of organizing meetings and taking into consideration structural issues that affect participation (class, income, disability, gender, etc.) that I hope to pay careful attention, as much as feasibly possible, in organizing MAYS activities and the conference. At the moment at the Graduate Institute, I am working on strengthening coordination between students and faculty with the department seminar series and broadening the spectrum of speakers.

What are your plans for MAYS?

The MAYS network has expanded considerably, and I’ll work on increasing this momentum. One way to increase the participation of young scholars and students from many parts of Europe (not to mention countries bordering Europe/the Mediterranean) is to translate key parts of the MAYS websites and the activity announcements disseminated by MAYS and by continuing the last MAYS conference organizers’ decision to host the next conference outside of the main European cities. In addition to the conference, I can work on increasing MAYS’ activities and visibility by organizing public webinars with medical anthropologists. My proposal for the next MAYS meeting is to focus on organizing discussion-based groups that focus on new directions in medical anthropology, whether applied, methodological or theoretical. Depending on the interests of participants, these can include themes such as translating medical anthropology to new publics, conducting ethnography in the metropoles, what comes after the anthropology of suffering, and theory-building from the subaltern or global south.

Ben Epstein


For my PhD project, I conducted 18 months’ fieldwork using ethnographic participant observation in clinical, laboratory and NGO settings in Japan, examining the mental health response to the tsunami, earthquake, and nuclear disasters of 2011.


I plan to contribute fully to the organisation of the network, academically and socially, building on my history of participation through which I have developed strong relationships in Japan, Europe and the United Kingdom. My recent experience at UCL includes helping organise the Anthropology in London Day Conference, being a postgraduate representative, and organising a writing-retreat for PhD students returning from fieldwork.


I am particularly interested in MAYS’s potential as a resource for academic development in an informal, supportive environment. As well as creating a space for challenging the asymmetries between medicine and anthropology, MAYS 2020 could be held at UCL’s welcoming anthropology department, with several opportunities for funding, such as the Octagon Small Grants Fund. A key output of the event would be to link participants who wish to co-author in a peer-reviewed journal, such as Anthropology and Medicine, which has strong links to UCL. This could be through a workshop designed to demystify the question of collaboration, an important skill for new academics.

Ilaria Bracaglia


My research interests are contexts of violence produced by State institutions, human right issues and critics, methodology about doing research and collecting interviews in this particular field. More precisely, my aim is to inquire the experiences were the agency of “victims” is well expressed in order to avoid to produce a passivating stereotype of victim. Moreover in my research I try to consider the violence continuum instead of looking at isolated traumatic episodes. I am also very interested in the potential therapeutic role of Anthropology and of the anthropologist who do research; so I look also at the eventual applications of our discipline and of ourselves.


I experienced several times how to work in group and how to organize event. In particular I have been member of two groups of research in La Sapienza University during which I learn a lot about coordination in equipe. Moreover Since 2016 I have collaborated to the organization of History Festival at Nuovo Cinema Palazzo in Rome (with the support of Circolo Gianni Bosio – Casa della Memoria e della Storia and Università La Sapienza): my duties have regarded topics proposal, contaxts of the participants, sharing of news and informations about the Festival, coordinating one of the dialogues during the Festival. As well, in 2017 I prepared an educational project for a high schools focusing human rights issues: I indicated topics and the speakers, and I coordinated their expositions to the classes. I understand, speak and write English (C1 certified), French (A1 certified, but I improved until to reach a B level), Spanish (C1 certified). I am able to use web devices.


I would like to improve MAYS ability to realize connections between researchers, and I think that a good idea for next year could be reflect together about the methodology of doing research. Interdisciplinarity, co-research, applied research, militant research, action research, classical perspectives. Sometimes this high number of not so clear definitions could produce confusion in the researcher attitude. And what about the effect on the field and on the people who inhabit it? How to look at the them and how to consider the “informants” in the participant observation?

Paula Morgado


My research interests are diverse and all related to gender issues with:
• Women’s health, especially in Africa;
• Female autonomous migration in West Africa;
• Islamic feminism;
• Historical violence against women, particularly against female servants during «Estado Novo» in Portugal.

Because of these widely dispersed interests, I am currently involved in different projects simultaneously. In the context of Medical Anthropology field, during next year I intend to carry out two different initiatives: one empirical and another theoretical. On the one hand, I plan to conduct a small ethnographic work in Soyo [Angola] about local therapeutic offer available and how this medical diversity is mobilized by the resident population, especially by women. And on the other I want to publish a handbook on Medical Anthropology for undergraduate students.


My PhD research was concerned with migrant women access to reproductive health in Niamey [Republic of Niger]. The nature of empirical data collected during my fieldwork has boosted a very detailed literature review in three particular domains: the history of public reproductive health policies; the historical context of emergence and development of medical pluralism studies on Medical Anthropology field; and the birth and consolidation of woman’s health issues in Social Sciences, with special emphasis on anthropological scientific production. In short, my field research as well as the writing of my thesis gave me a great empirical experience and theoretical knowledge in the field of Medical Anthropology. Moreover, this academic process finished to raise a number of epistemological questions for which I am still searching for answers.


Richness and diversity of topics explored by MAYS are extraordinary and undeniable. Fieldworks have been increasingly concerned in bringing out therapeutic realities overlooked or ignored by public health policies. However, on the other hand, there has been very little epistemological vigilance regarding academic production in Medical Anthropological field. The vast majority of works in this field exhibits a deliberately or involuntarily bias in favour of Positivist paradigm. On the one hand, many studies focus exclusively on institutional care provided by biomedicine regardless the quest and therapeutic trajectories made by patients and their families. And on the other, texts that explore the therapeutic diversity mobilized by patients and families tend to justify their medical pluralism through positivist assumptions. Because few or several elements from therapy management group in their speech reproduce this kind of ideology or authors themselves use positivist premises to analyze and interpret plural therapeutic behaviours. Sometimes, anthropologists attack biomedical paradigm hegemony or preponderance in Medical Anthropology field by resorting to phenomenological justifications. However, besides some arguments provided by phenomenology lack empirical basis, oppositions between phenomenology and positivism tend to crystallize therapeutic diversity between two apparently irreconcilable truths, and thereby contributing to the therapeutic exoticisation of every medical procedure which is not provided by biomedical professionals. Anemic debate concerning epistemological and methodological options used by medical anthropologists has a strong impact in the way empirical data are collected, treated and interpreted, and consequently, in the sort of theoretical body that has been developed in Medical Anthropology field.
The purpose of this criticism is not to argue that studies exclusively focused on biomedical care and/or sustained by positivist arguments less important or legitimate. I just claim for a deeper scientific discussion regarding epistemological and methodological choices made by medical anthropologists because there are not innocuous. Advent and spread of biomedical care at a global scale did not happen by chance or accident. Since its early days, its expansion and development has obeyed to a very precise political agenda. Even today, access to healthcare in biomedical facilities depends fundamentally on the will of national and supranational political institutions which rarely make the delivery of equitable and quality health care services their first priority. Glocal dynamics cannot be ignored in Medical Anthropological field, especially by authors who prefer to analyze just health care provided by biomedicine or use positivist assumptions to interpreted therapeutic behaviour.

For me it seems fundamental that a deeper discussion concerning positivist bias present in the majority of scientific production in Medical Anthropology fields and other related disciplines should be started in MAYS midst. We need urgently to develop analytical tools that will help us to understand how local and global economic, political, social and cultural forces are at stake and reconfigured through therapy management group or therapist-patient interaction. Consequently, I would like to see these epistemological and methodological issues being discussed as next MAYS meeting theme. A greater epistemological vigilance in this disciplinary area will only bring benefits for future research.

Raluca Cosmina Budian


My research interests are focused on social exclusion, poverty and how it affects the situation of health vulnerability. My doctoral thesis consists of the study of the homeless and the models of care, however, after two years we have realized that the health consequences of this situation is in the background. Therefore, it is essential to enter this field to offer an improvement in the response. I would like to carry out this research related to the health of the homeless in a post doctoral project since I will defend my thesis this September.


In recent years I have been able to collaborate in the organization of several events and congresses at the University of Salamanca, from the Congress of Americanists (ICA) in 2018 to the Homelessness Forum in the same year for the students of the university. I have little medical anthropology training, however, I believe that the multidisciplinarity of my training and experience can bring news to MAYS.


Through MAYS I intend to contribute in addition to my experience, my energy and enthusiasm for embarking on such an important project.


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