NEWS: Upload your complete paper before 1 June.

Thank you for being part of NEEDS 2019. The full paper upload is now open and you are expected to submit your full paper (if your panel conveners require the presenters’ full papers), following the below guidelines, before the deadline of 1 June 2019, at 17:00 CET.

The Full paper can be uploaded as a Word document (.docx only!) and will need to follow these guidelines:

  1. paper’s title in font size 14 Times New Romans bold 
  2. authors and affiliation and body of text Times New Romans 12 
  3. space all text 1.5 
  4. use normal margins 
  5. the title(s) uses Sentence capitalisation only (as in this example: The title of the Uppsala paper: The subtitle of the paper on New Orleans
  6. no use of all caps for author’s names, surnames or titles 
  7. in-text citation and referencing follow the author-date system, Chicago or Harvard, no footnote system or numerical system 
  8. a complete final list of references in alphabetical order, referencing follows Chicago or Harvard. 

Upload instructions
Begin by going to the online system where you previously created a personal account to submit your abstract. In the “Edit submission” box, you will be asked to provide the user name and password you previously created for the account. 
Once you have logged in, you should see the information on your abstract, along with a button titled “Upload full paper”. Just click the button, follow the directions on the next page, and upload your paper as Word document (.docx only), correctly formatted according to the guidelines mentioned above.

If you have any questions, please send an email, including your abstract ID (#13230), to

Best regards
Scientific Committee, NEEDS 2019

NEWS: Updated programme and panel slots/times

Check for updates to the programme at the Venue and conference programme page. The schedule of panels with times of sessions is now visible. The line-up of papers will be downloadbale via the printable book of abstracts next week.

We are happy to announce that a number of travel bursaries will be available to PhD students and junior scholars. Information and application link will be accessible at the end of April.

Panel 18 – Health and bodies in emergencies and uncertain times

Conveners: Claudia Merli (Department of Cultural Anthropology and Ethnology, Uppsala University) and Mats Målqvist (International Maternal and Child Health (IMCH), Uppsala University Hospital)

Abstract: Clashing definitions of health and perspectives on bodies often meet during times of uncertainty and emergency. In the Anthropocene era the fragility and vulnerability of individuals, groups and environments can be magnified and often extended in conjunction to health and humanitarian interventions that can turn into new forms of governance. Local epistemologies of the relation between individual, community and environment may be silenced or marginalised vis-à-vis hegemonic categorisations that approach ‘nature’ and ‘society’ as domains that are or need to be kept separated. This panel invites contributions that critically assess and debate health and bodies from a wide range of perspectives, including medical anthropology, anthropology of health, global health, public health, medicine, forensic anthropology, science and technology studies, and others. Topics for papers in this panel can address:

  • Epidemics and pandemics
  • Chronic health crises
  • Neglected Tropical Diseases
  • Treatment of human remains in epidemics
  • Disaster Victim Identification and forensic identification
  • Community engagement in times of crisis
  • Psychosocial support among displaced populations
  • Natural hazards and health

Long Abstract: The operative and accepted definition of health by international organisations is the one proposed by the WHO, in which ‘Health is a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity’ (Preamble WHO 1948 and 1978 Alma Ata). It affirms an all-encompassing ideal state of well-being as a stable, positive and whole attainment. Critical approaches to the study of health and health interventions, especially in the global south, privilege the examination of local material and social conditions as well as global political and economic dynamics, problematizing this universal definition of health not only because idealistic, but also as often associated with often short-term action-driven approaches that can lead to unintended or undesirable consequences (see Hanna and Kleinman 2013; Kim et al. 2013). Critical perspectives on health put forward instead a definition that emphasises individuals as well as populations’ control and access to material and non-material resources, including healthcare, in specific socio-cultural contexts (Baer, Singer, and Susser 2003), and take into consideration in the design of health interventions that work long-term those structural barriers that limit or prevent this access (Kim et al. 2013).

In the Anthropocene we witness the progressive ecological fragility of different ecological and urban contexts (cities, mountains, etc.) and vulnerability of individuals, households, and populations (Baer and Singer 2009). At the same time we are called to challenge the vulnerability paradigm that has informed much of contemporary response to disasters (Gaillard 2018). A critical approach to global warming and climate change takes into account also the health consequences produced in fragile environments, which can rapidly transform from a locally delimited health crisis into a global health scare.

Epidemics are increasingly framed as humanitarian emergencies or catastrophes, opening up to new forms of intervention and domination in sudden calamities and chronic states of uncertainty, by NGOs and other humanitarian organisations operating from different moral frameworks (for example utilitarianism, liberal cosmopolitanism, capabilities approach, etc.) (see Nguyen 2009; Redfield 2010; Suri et al. 2013). We want to explore how these interventions operate from an uncritical definition of the body developed within the Western biomedical epistemology, which does not take into consideration the theoretical articulation between the individual body, the social body, and the body politic (cf. Scheper-Hughes and Lock 1987).

One of the aspects characterising the aftermath of environmental crises as well as health epidemics concerns the treatment and potential dehumanization of dead bodies and human remains. A biomedical approach to death as a state detached from human life may cause severe conflict to contextual nursing practices and cultural perceptions of life and afterlife (Richards 2016). This approach often gains prerogative in crisis situations, e.g. Ebola outbreaks or in the aftermath of environmental disasters.

We invite colleagues to critically reflect on how an uncritical biomedical approach reproduces a perspective on ‘nature’ and ‘society’ as untroubled versus troubling separate domains in the context of health interventions during uncertain times.


Baer, Hans, and Merrill Singer. 2016. Global warming and the political ecology of health: Emerging crises and systemic solutions. London: Routledge.

Baer, Hans A., Merrill Singer, and Ida Susser. 2003. Medical anthropology and the world system. Greenwood Publishing Group.

Gaillard, J.C. 2018. Disaster studies inside out. Disasters doi:10.1111/disa.12323

Hanna, Bridget, and Arthur Kleinman. 2013. “Unpacking Global Health: Theory and critique.” In P. Famer, J. Y. Kim, A. Kleinman and M. Basilico (eds), Reimagining Global Health, pp. 15-32. Berkeley: University of California Press.

Kim, Jim Yong, Michael Porter, Joseph Rhatigan, Rebecca Weintraub, Matthew Basilico, and Paul Farmer. 2013. “Scaling up effective delivery models worldwide.” In P. Famer, J. Y. Kim, A. Kleinman and M. Basilico (eds), Reimagining Global Health, pp. 184-211. Berkeley: University of California Press.

Nguyen, Vinh-Kim. 2009. Government-by-exception: Enrolment and experimentality in mass HIV treatment programmes in Africa.Social Theory & Health, 7(3): 196–217.

Redfield, Peter. 2010. “The verge of crisis: Doctors without Borders in Uganda.” In. D. Fassin and M. Pandolfi (eds), Contemporary states of emergency: The politics of military and humanitarian interventions, pp. 173–195. New York: Zone Books.

Richards, Paul. 2016. Ebola: How a people’s science helped end an epidemic. Chicago: ZED Books.

Scheper-Hughes, Nancy, and Margaret Lock. 1987. The mindful body: A prolegomenon to future work in Medical Anthropology. Medical Anthropology Quarterly(1): 6–41.

Suri, Arjun, Jonathan Weigel, Luke Messac, Marguerite T. Basilico, Matthew Basilico, Bridget Hanna, Salmaan Keshavjee, and Arthur Kleinman. 2013. “Values and Global Health.” In P. Famer, J. Y Kim, A. Kleinman and M. Basilico (eds), Reimagining Global Health, pp. 245-286. Berkeley: University of California Press.

WHO (World Health Organization). 1948. Preamble to the Constitution of WHO as adopted by the International Health Conference, New York, 19 June­─22 July 1946; signed on 22 July 1946 by the representatives of 61 States (Official Records of WHO, no. 2, p. 100) and entered into force on 7 April 1948.

Panel 17 – Matters of scale in the making, understanding​ and analysing water-related disasters and crises

Conveners: Susann Baez Ullberg (Department of Cultural Anthropology and Ethnology, Uppsala University) and Maria Rusca (Department of Earth Sciences, Uppsala University), Giuliano Di Baldassarre (Department of Earth Sciences, Uppsala University)

Abstract: Scholars are often confronted with diverse modes and practices of scale making in studying water-related disasters and crises, no matter if these are conceptualised as events, processes or both. Social actors rely upon different scales to organize, interpret, orient, and act in their worlds: these are not given but made in multiple modes. In analysing such practices, scholars also employ scale as an organising methodological concept. We want to consider how these scaling practices are enacted in at least three dimensions of application: spatial, temporal, and demographic. We invite papers that engage with scale conceptually, empirically and methodologically.

Long Abstract:  This session aims at exploring the ways in which water-related disasters and crises are discursively and materially produced via different scaling practices. By bringing together different scientific perspectives we want to examine the differences and similarities in how we engage with and analyse these enactments and what the ontological, epistemological and methodological premises are. Scholars are often confronted with diverse modes and practices of scale making in studying disasters and crises, no matter if they are conceptualised as events, processes or both. Social actors rely upon different scales to organize, interpret, orient, and act in their worlds: these are not given but made in multiple modes (Carr & Lempert, 2016; Colligne, 1999). In analysing such practices, scholars also employ scale as an organising methodological concept. We want to consider how these scaling practices are enacted in at least three dimensions of application: spatial, temporal and demographic. As a geographical construction, water related disaster and the politics of scale are evidenced when questions of risk, vulnerability, and resilience are framed by local and global experts according to a normative division into ‘local’, ‘regional’, ‘national’, ‘transnational’ and ‘global’, or scales are contested and renegotiated in the production of uneven disaster waterscapes (Colligne, 1999; Marston, 2014; Swyngendouw, 2003).

The temporal dimensions account for both tempo and timing, from anticipating future risks and mitigating slow onset water-related disaster, to operating during emergencies and engaging in the often-ignored long-term temporal aspects of the production of vulnerabilities and hazards and post-disaster recovery. Finally, the demographic dimension, which relates to both time and space, plays out the tension between individual and collective needs in addressing floods and dorughts. Even when operating on a relatively local scale, international emergency operations tend to focus on ‘population’ overlooking local political and social dynamics that create social differentiation of aid and ignoring individual coping capacities. By avoiding taking for granted global forces and local places; short-term events and long-term processes; or collective needs and individual capacities, this session questions the stability of the concept of scale and scaling practices. It focuses on scaling itself as the object of discussing disasters and crises as to avoid ‘scale blindness’ (Bird-David, 2017).

We invite panellists who can, through their theoretical and empirical work, contribute to the above debates, by examining topics that may include, but are not limited to, the following questions: How are scales of water-related disaster and crises management set and by whom? Through what scaling practices are floods and droughts materially and discursively produced and managed? What does it mean and to whom to say that a crisis is transnational, national, regional or local? What are the scalar factors driving disaster risk accumulation and uneven exposure to hydrological risks? In which ways do different actors change and navigate their contexts of action and endow their concerns with different levels of significance? What are the material and political channels that enable or hinder scaling processes? What methodologies are productive to investigate the role of scaling practices in the production and uneven distribution of water-related disasters? How do scholars themselves engage in processes of scaling while assembling and navigating their fields of research? How do we ‘scale-up’ disaster and crises studies to influence scaling practices?


Bird-David, 2017. “Before nation: Scale-blind anthropology and foragers’ worlds of relatives.” Current Anthropology 58(2): 209–226.

Carr, E. Summerson, and Michael Lempert. 2016. Scale: discourse and dimensions of social life. Oakland, California: University of California Press.

Collinge, C.J., 1999. ‘Self-organization of society by scale’, Environment & Planning D: Society & Space, 17 (5), 557-574.

Leitner, H. 2004. The politics of scale and networks of spatial connectivity: Transnational interurban networks and the rescaling of political governance in Europe. In Sheppard, E. and McMaster, R.B. (Eds), Scale and geographic inquiry, pp. 236-255. Malden, MA: Blackwell Publishing Ltd.

Marston, A.J. 2014. The scale of informality: Community-run water systems in peri-urban Cochabamba, Bolivia. Water Alternatives 7(1): 72-88

Swyngedouw, E. and Heynen, N.C., 2003. Urban political ecology, justice and the politics of scale. Antipode, 35(5), pp.898-918.