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Cultural and Social Anthropology

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Translating Global Health Technologies

Funding: DFG - Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft

Duration: 2011 - 2018

Project lead: Prof. Dr. Uli Beisel, Prof. Dr. Richard Rottenburg (Martin-Luther-Universität Halle-Wittenberg)

Research associates: Dr. René Umlauf (Martin-Luther-Universität Halle-Wittenberg), Arlena Liggins (Universität Bayreuth)


The project focuses on the translation of global health technologies into new contexts. Trajectories of technologies are analysed as a bidirectional process affecting the users and simultaneously altering the technologies and their capacities on their way to become institutionalized. The concept of translation helps us to contest and overcome conventional notions of technology transfer and social engineering. In this phase of the project (phase III, 2015 - 2018) we are focusing on accounting procedures and testing practices underlying and emerging out of processes of organisational learning. This will allow us to better capture the complex interplay between the use of technologies (e.g. rapid diagnostic tests) and medical data production (information and communication technologies). Focusing on interstitial spaces makes it possible not only to compare different types of organisational learning, but also to link these back to our research results of the last phases (phase I and II, 2011 - 2015). The merging of accounting studies with approaches of the sociology of testing generates new insights into the (analytical) differentiation between “good” and “bad” translations. This will significantly contribute to the priority program’s overarching aim: clarify the role of technologies in the production of order and disorder in Africa.

Subproject of SPP 1448: Adaption und Kreativität in Afrika - Technologien und Bedeutungen in der Produktion von Ordnung und Unordnung

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