Alumni Senior Fellow

Prof. Dr Susan Erikson

Alumni Fellows

Käte Hamburger Kolleg / Centre for Global Cooperation Research
Schifferstraße 44
47059 Duisburg

Tel:  +49 (0)203 379-5230
Fax: +49 (0)203 379-5276
E-mail: erikson@spam


Prof. Susan Erikson joined the Käte Hamburger Kolleg / Centre for Global Cooperation Research as a Senior Fellow. She conducted her research in Research Unit 3 “Global Governance Revisited” from October 2014 to February 2015.

Research Project at the Centre

Cultures of Governance: Statistics as Apparatus for Global Governance

My current research is the study of statistics as a bureaucratic technology of global governance. I conduct anthropological research in Sierra Leone, where I lived and worked for two years as an international development worker (a non-academic post) before the 1991-2002 war. As an academic, I am interested in how globalization restructures interactions between statistics, global capital, and governance. My research explores statistics as a global knowledge technology of power- and decision-making.

Global governance relies on statistics to provide presumed coherence, commensurability, and efficiency in international development, humanitarian, and global health projects. I use ethnographic methods and analyses to discover what is happening in postconflict Sierra Leone relative to the production and circulation of statistics for development, humanitarian and commercial projects. In much of my research and teaching as well as in many of my invited presentations I take up the politics of development and policy inscriptions to show how international rules and regulations continue to maintain the longstanding extant advantages of already wealthy people and countries.

Research Interests

  • Medical Anthropology
  • Global Health
  • Health Futures
  • Political Economy
  • Knowledge Economy
  • Governance
  • International Affairs

Current Projects

  • Following the Money: Global Investment Mechanisms and Global Health Futures
  • How Statistics 'Travel' to Inform Humanitarianism, Commerce, and Venture Capitalism in Sierra Leone, Funded by Social Science and Humanities Council of Canada (2012-2015)
  • Studying the Numbers: The Production of Statistics for Development and Commerce in Sierra Leone, Funded by Simon Fraser University and the Social Science and Humanities Council of Canada (2011-2013)


Since 2013 Simon Fraser University, Canada
Faculty of Health Sciences
Tenured Associate Professor
2007-2012 Simon Fraser University
Faculty of Health Sciences
Assistant Professor
2003-2006 University of Denver
Korbel School of International Studies
(Founding Director) Global Health Affairs Program
Fall 2006 University of Osnabrück, Germany
Maternal Health Research Centre
DAAD Fellow
2002-2003 University of Denver
Korbel School of International Studies
Senior Research Fellow
2003 Wenner-Gren Foundation for Anthropological Research, New York
Richard Carley Hunt Postdoctoral Fellowship for Research and Writing
Postdoctoral Fellow
Summer 2002 National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH)
NEH Institute
Postdoctoral Fellow

Selected Publications

Erikson, Susan L. (forthcoming 2015): Secrets from Whom? Following the Money in Global Health, Current Anthropology

Sargent, Carolyn and Susan L. Erikson (2014): Hospitals as Sites of Cultural Confrontation and Integration, in John R Bowen et. al (eds.): European States and Their Muslim Citizens: The Impact of Institutions on Perceptions and Boundaries, Cambridge, England: Cambridge University Press, 29–53

Erikson, Susan L. and Claire Wendland (2014): Exclusionary Practice: Medical Schools and Global Health Clinical Electives, Student BMJ. 5 June

Kiggins, Elizabeth and Susan L. Erikson (2013): 'No Food in the House': Policy Ambiguity, Inaction, and Food Insecurity, Community Development Journal 48(4): 623–38

Erikson, Susan L. (2012): Global Health Business: The Production and Performativity of Statistics in Sierra Leone and Germany, Medical Anthropology, Special issue: Enumeration, Identity, and Health, 32(4): 367–84  [Winner 2013 SMA CGH Rudolf Virchow Award]

Erikson, Susan L. (2012): Social Embodiments: Prenatal Risk in Postsocialist Germany.  Anthropologica 54(1): 83–94

Calvert, John, Nicole Berry, Kitty Corbett, Susan Erikson, Robert Hogg, Angela Kaida, Kelley Lee, John O'Neil, Karen Palmer, Malcolm Steinberg, and Tim Takaro (2012): Response to Canadian Foreign Aid for Global Health: Human Security Opportunity Lost, Canadian Foreign Policy Journal 18(2): 242–3

Erikson, Susan L. (2011): Global Ethnography: Problems of Theory and Method, in Carole C. H. Browner and Carolyn F. Sargent (eds.): Globalization, Reproduction, and the State, Durham: Duke University Press, 23–37 [Winner 2012 SMA Basker Prize and 2012 CAR Most Notable Collection Award]

Erikson, Susan L. (2008): Getting Political: Fighting for Global Health, The Lancet 371(9620): 1229–30

Erikson, Susan L. (2007): Global Health: Diagnoses and Prescriptions, Foreign Affairs  86(3): 168–9

Erikson, Susan L. (2007): Fetal Views: Histories and Habits of Prenatal Technology in Germany,  Journal of Medical Humanities 28: 187–212.

Erikson, Susan L. (2005): "Now It Is Completely the Other Way Around": Political Economies of Fertility in Re-Unified Germany,  in Carrie Douglass (ed.): Barren States: The Population Implosion in Europe, London: Berg Press, 49–71 [Winner SMA CAR 2006 Most Notable Collection Award]

Teaching Responsibilities

  • Global Health and International Affairs
  • Globalization and Health
  • Medical Anthropology and Global Health
  • Political Economy of Global Health

Seminars and Conferences

  • 'The End of Biodeterminism? New Directions for Medical Anthropology', University of Aarhus, Aarhus, Denmark, Oct 1-3, 2014
  • 'The Death of the Secret?', Wenner-Gren Symposium, Tivoli Palácio de Seteais, Sintra, Portugal, Mar 14-20, 2014
  • 'Extractive Industry: Mining Big Data across Digital and Statistical Divides: Perspectives from Sierra Leone', Panel: Big Data in Big Biomedicine: Minings and Meanings for Healthcare, Annual American Anthropological Association Meetings, Chicago, IL, US, Nov 19-24, 2013
  • 'Global Health Exploitations: Corporate 'Piggybacking' and Promotion of Maternal Health Imaging Technologies', Global Health Science and Technology Workshop, Maastricht University, Maastricht, The Netherlands, Nov 12-13, 2013
  • 'Studying "Poor" Numbers in Global Health: Challenges to Statistical Authority and the Epistemic Difference Ethnography Makes, Panel: Situating Medical Anthropology between the Ivory Tower and Activism, Germany Anthropology Association Annual Meeting, University of Mainz, Germany, Oct 2-5, 2013
  • Invited Comments for Panel: 'Biomedicine and Standard Practice. Rethinking Bureaucratic Authority Conference', University of Colorado, Boulder, CO, US, Sept 27-29, 2013
  • 'The Work the Record Does', Invited Plenary Panel: Unsettling the Record: Bodies, Canadian Anthropology Society Annual Meeting, University of Victoria, Victoria, BC, CA, May 2013
  • 'Reproductive Medicine and Its Economies of Credibility, Invited Keynote Address, Bodies, Politics, Subjectivities Conference, University of California-Los Angeles, Los Angeles, CA, US, April 2013
  • IUGR, Public Health Indicators, and Obstetrical Credibility in Germany. Grand Rounds, Medical School, OBGYN, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI, US, Sept. 2012
  • '(Dis)Counting Evidence: Statistical Innocence and Global Health Good', Institute for Research on Women and Gender, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI, US, Sept. 2012
  • 'Technology Travels: Normative Orders of Global Public Health Medicine, Translations of Travelling Legal, Organizational, and Technological Models in Africa Contexts', Volkswagon Foundation, Saly, Sénégal, Dec. 2011
  • 'Indicators as Techno-Bureaucratic Apparatus: IUGR in a Global Political Economy of Public Health Credibility', A World of Indicators: Knowledge Technologies of Regulation, Domination, Experimentation and Critique in an Interconnected World, Max Planck Institute, Halle, Germany, Oct. 2011


  • American Anthropological Association
  • Canadian Anthropology Society
  • Society for Medical Anthropology
  • Council on Anthropology and Reproduction
  • Ciritical Anthropoloigy of Global Health Interest Group
  • Cascadia Seminar Leadership Group
  • Faculty of Health Sciences Awards Committee, Chair
  • Faculty of Health Sciences, Global Health Group
  • Faculty of Health Sciences, Social Inequities Group
  • Faculty od Health Sciences, Study of Corporations' Impact of Health Group


  • 2013 Rudolf Virchow Award: Anthropology of Global Health Group of the Society for Medical Anthropology, American Anthropological Association, "For work combining a critical anthropology focus with rich ethnographic data, and best reflect, extend, and/or advance critical perspectives in medical anthropology"
  • 2012 Graduate Teaching and Mentorship Excellence Award; Faculty of Health Sciences, Simon Fraser University, Burnaby, BC, Canada
  • 2012 Ellen Basker Memorial Prize (Contributing Author); Society for Medical Anthropology, American Anthropological Association, "For work judged to be the most courageous, significant, and potentially influential scholarship in gender and health", Reproduction, Globalization, and the State, 2011, eds., Carole Browner and Carolyn Sargent
  • 2012 Most Notable Recent Collection Book Award (Contributing Author); Council on Anthropology and Reproduction, Society for Medical Anthropology, American Anthropological Association, Reproduction, Globalization, and the State, 2011, eds., Carole Browner and Carolyn Sargent
  • 2006 William T. Driscoll Master Educator Award (Nomination); University of Denver, Denver, CO, US
  • 2006 Most Notable Recent Collection Book Award (Contributing Author); Council on Anthropology and Reproduction, Society for Medical Anthropology, American Anthropological Association,. Barren States: The Population "Implosion" in Europe, 2005, edited by Carrie B. Douglass
  • 2004 Best Professor; Joseph Korbel School of International Studies, University of Denver, Denver, CO, US
  • 2003 Best Class: Political Economy of Global Health Joseph Korbel School of International Studies, University of Denver, Denver, CO, US
  • 2003 Best Adjunct Professor; Joseph Korbel School of International Studies, University of Denver, Denver, CO, US
  • 2001 1st Place Graduate Student Paper Award Council on Anthropology and Reproduction, Society for Medical Anthropology, American Anthropological Association. German Prenatal Diagnostic Technology Use a Decade after die Wende

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