Medical Anthropology II. Biosocialities and Citizenship

Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Anthropology, University of Copenhagen

Biosociality, biovalue, biological citizenship, biocapital… These are some of the many new concepts that have emerged out of recent anthropological studies of the life sciences. How can it be that biology – that most ‘reductionist’, ‘determinist’ and ‘positivist’ of disciplines – has made such a comeback in medical anthropology?

In this Master level course we will examine how anthropologists have begun engaging with the ‘new’ biology, namely genetics, reproductive medicine, neuroscience, stem cell science, etc. It was Paul Rabinow who, in reflecting on developments in genetics in 1992, suggested that a new form of sociality was emerging: “in biosociality nature will be remade through technique and will finally become artificial, just as culture becomes natural”. Since then, anthropologists have been engaging with biology, carrying out empirical studies into how new reproductive technologies, forms of genetic testing or experimental stem cell therapies are giving rise to new relationalities, socialities, identities and citizenship claims.

The course will take students through this new bio-field with a focus on empirical studies, while critically examining its core concepts of ‘biosociality’, ‘biological citizenship’ and ‘biopolitics’. We will also critically examine whether, and if so how, such a focus on/fascination with ‘frontier technologies’ has come at the cost of other urgent health-related concerns.

Duration: 7 weeks, Fall semester (not every year)

Language: English

Credits/ECTS: 7.5 ECTS


  • EU – 6,000 DKK (approximately 805 Euros)
  • Non EU – 1,275 Euros

Application deadline: 1 June

Contact: Ayo Wahlberg ( / (


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