Mapping Morality in Global Health

26 June 2018 - 27 June 2018

SG1 and SG2, Alison Richard Building

Registration for this conference is now open. Fees are £40 (full price) or £20 (student/unwaged); one-day registration is also available. Fees include lunches and refreshments. Registration closes on Tuesday 19 June. 



Freya Jephcott (Cambridge Infectious Diseases, University of Cambridge)

Ferdinand Moyi Okwaro (Department of Social Anthropology, University of Oslo)

Wenzel Geissler (Department of Social Anthropology, University of Oslo)

Sophie Hermanns (Department of Politics and International Studies, University of Cambridge)

Jenny Thornton (Department of Politics and International Studies, University of Cambridge)



Contemporary discussions about global health are rife with accusations, assumptions and assertions of morality, immorality and the irrelevance of both. New tensions and debates regarding morality in global health have arisen from a long history of colonial and mission medicine, post-colonial internationalism, and ever-changing formulations of equity and provision. Some of these discussions see classical moral reasoning re-examined, for example, the rise of ‘effective altruism’ and its challenges to the role of the emotive and political. Others resent the reliance on big data and pragmatism that shapes utilitarian approaches to global health. The quieter assertions of amorality around pursuits of medical science and the angry indictments levelled at the economic models of pharmaceutical complexes rely on moralising language, too.

This conference will provide a forum to vocalize, exorcise and ignite ideas of morality in global health. By bringing together scholars from disciplines such as anthropology, history, economics, epidemiology, political science, literature and theology, we hope to chart the forms and places of morality in global health.




Supported by the Centre for Research in the Arts, Social Sciences and Humanities (CRASSH), the Galton Institute, the Institute of Medical Ethics, SciDev.Net, and the University of Oslo.


Administrative assistance:


Unfortunately, we are unable to arrange or book accommodation for registrants. The following websites may be of help:

Please note that this programme is still provisional. 

Day 1 - Tuesday 26 June

8.30 - 9.00


9.00 - 9.15

Welcome and Introduction 

Freya Jephcott (University of Cambridge)

9.15 - 9.45

Opening Keynote

Peter Redfield (University of North Carolina)

'How Fungible is Human Life?'

9.45 - 11.00

Session 1: Quantification

Emily Yates-Doerr (University of Amsterdam / Oregon State University)

'Strategic reductionism: Complexity, inequality, and the challenge of doing good science in global health'


Speaker TBC

11.00 - 11.20


11.20 - 13.00

Session 2: Efficacy 

Sophie Hermanns (The German Society for International Cooperation)

'Running the numbers on doing good: politics of evidence and mass deworming for children'


Elizabeth F. Hall (University of Toronto)

'Opening a can of worms: replication, reduction and the production of evidence in global health'


Margaret Sleebom-Faulkner (University of Sussex)

'Non-Invasive Prenatal Testing (NIPT) and effective altruism - an exploration of national morality in the context of globalisation'

13.00 - 13.45


13.45 - 15.20

Session 3: Collaboration 

Ferdinand Moyi Okwaro (University of Oslo)

'Scientific lives, ethos and morality in transnational medical research collaborations in Africa'


Emmanuelle Roth (University of Cambridge)

'"The truth is sometimes better left unsaid"': (im)moralities of post-Ebola viral research in Guinea'


Noemi Tousignant (University College London)

'New Scales of the Moral: The Postcolonial Global and Health Research at the WHO in the 1970s'

15.20 - 15.40


15.40 - 17.15

Session 4: Collaboration (contd.)

Angeliki Kerasidou (University of Oxford)

'The role of trust in global health research collaborations'


Tennie Videler (University of Cambridge)

'Pictures of Ageing in Uganda: An Exploration of Aspects of Morality in an International Interdisciplinary Project' 


Jenny Thornton (University of Cambridge)

'Ownership, authorship and challenging dependency in Rwandan health research partnerships'

Day Two - Wednesday 27 June

9.00 - 10.40

Session 5: Sovereignty

John Manton (London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine)

'“The smaller part of the country is in Government hands”: global health, national planning, and territorial turmoil in the postcolonial 1960s and 1970s'


John Harrington (Cardiff University)

'Sovereignty, Discipline and the Nation State in Global Health Governance'


Raphael Oidtmann (University of Mannheim)

'Between Morality and Security: Explaining the UN Security Council’s Response to the 2014 Ebola Outbreak'

10.40 - 11.00


11.00 - 12.10

Session 6: Humanitarianism

Sophie Roborgh (University of Cambridge)

'Local medical humanitarianism: the merits of a social movement theory approach'


Iain Wilkinson (University of Kent)

'The Sociology of Humanitarianism and Humanitarian Sociology'

12.10 - 13.00


13.00 - 14.40

Session 7: Other Paradigms

Dora Vargha (University of Exeter) 

'The Cold War morality of public health: a socialist viewpoint'


Ruth Jane Prince (University of Oslo) 

'Universal Health Coverage: Social justice, technical pragmatism, or neoliberal cooptation?'


James Wintrup (University of Cambridge)

Title TBC

14.40 - 15.00


15.00 - 16.40

Session 8: Proximity

Guillaume Lachenal (Université Paris Diderot)

'When global health does not care too much: The “Ebola” epidemic of Ngoyla (Cameroon, 1997-1998) and the moral issue of global health casualness'


Freya Jephcott (University of Cambridge)

'Abstractions of urgency in outbreak responses'


P. Wenzel Geissler (University of Oslo)

'Global health’s smooth surface: medicine, beauty and morality'

16.40 - 17.20

Closing Keynote

Claire Wendland (University of Wisconsin-Madison) 

'Moral concerns and patriarchal bargains in the fight for maternal health'

17.20 - 17.30

Conclusion of the Conference