Wageningen University: Prof. dr. Anita Hardon appointed as Professor and chair of the Knowledge, Technology and Innovation group

Prof. A.P. (Anita) Hardon was professor of Anthropology of Care and Health and the Faculty of Social and behavioural Science at the University of Amsterdam. Trained as a medical biologist and anthropologist, Anita was involved in ambitious multi-level, multi-sited, and often interdisciplinary studies on pharmaceuticals, immunization, new reproductive technologies, and AIDS medicines. Her research has generated important ethnographic insights on the appropriation of these technologies in diverse social-cultural settings, their efficacy in everyday life, the role of social movements in their design, and the dynamics of care. The latest multi-sited ethnography, Chemical Youth, was awarded an ERC Advanced Grant (2012).

Rather than inquiring about the specific causes of problems or why people fail to do what professionals want them to do, her research focuses on what people successfully do in their locally-based mutual care practices to pursue their aspirations for health, happiness, and well-being. How are self-care techniques productive in terms of situated life goals? How are they enabled or constrained by specific institutional arrangements?

Throughout her career, she communicated her research findings to patient advocates, policymakers, and global health researchers and practitioners. A 2021 contribution to the British Medical Journal (Mol & Hardon 2021) argued that researchers from different disciplines need to attune to each other’s perspectives and parameters to tackle the diverse aspects of the current pandemic in a science-based way.

Anita: “Our interconnected, globalized world faces a daunting future. As we are confronted by the cascading challenges of climate change, biodiversity loss, the COVID-19 pandemic, rising inequality, disinformation and popular discontent, the evidence is mounting that mitigation measures in one area often create or intensify problems in others.”

“As chair of the KTI group,” she says, “I hope to consolidate understandings and frameworks from ongoing studies and design new interdisciplinary and multidisciplinary research on these complex global challenges to generate insights across disciplinary silos and domains of societal transformation, recognizing that mitigation efforts in one domain can have (unintended) consequences in other areas.”

Prof. Anita Hardon will succeed Prof. dr. ir. Cees Leeuwis who will proceed as a Personal Professor within the Knowledge, Technology and Innovation group at the department of Social Sciences.

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