The Sovereign Metrics of Global Health

Vincanne Adams
Date and Time: 
Wednesday, April 9, 2014 - 5:30pm

Department of Anthropology
Main Quad - Building 50
Room 51A (Colloquium Room)


The recent shift from International Health Development to Global Health Sciences in the now fifty-year-old infrastructure of transnational health aid is not a simple substitution of new bottles for old wine. It has involved complex transformations in the practices of audit, funding, and intervention in the effort to improve health outcomes on a global scale. One of the most important features of this shift has been the growing reliance on specifi c kinds of quantitative metrics that make use of evidence-based measures, experimental research platforms, and cost-effectiveness rubrics for even the most intractable problems and most promising interventions. How do we make sense of this? This lecture offers preliminary insights and reminds us that, ethnography pushes us to see the remainder, or residuals, of these trends that appear as stories of single lives saved and struggles won.


Vincanne Adams is Professor of Anthropology, History and Social Medicine at UCSF. Her research and writing on Global Health spans a 30 year history of work in this area, beginning with her research and publications in Nepal (Doctors for Democracy), on Global Reproductive Health (Sex in Development) and on safe motherhood projects in Tibet and blood donation in China (see articles), numerous articles in Global Health edited collections, and a new book (in progress) called Metrics of the Global Sovereign. She is the co-editor of the Duke University Book Series Critical Global Health: Evidence, Effi cacy, Ethnography, and is on the Editorial Board for UC Press book series Global Poverty.