profile picture Janina Kehr

Univ.-Prof. Mag. Dr. Janina Kehr

Professor of Medical Anthropology and Global Health
Deputy Head of Department
Member of the Institutional Review Board of the Faculty of Social Sciences
Head of Research Group Health Matters

Contact Details

Department of Social and Cultural Anthropology
Universitätsstraße 7 (NIG), A-1010 Vienna
Room: B0418

T: +43 1 42 77 49529

Office Hours

Office hours after previous registration via e-mail to

Currently held either in person or online per Zoom. 


Current Courses: u:find

Past Courses: u:find

Research Focus Areas

  • Political anthropology of health and illness
  • Global infectious diseases, biopolitics and planetary health
  • Hospital spaces and places
  • Healthcare and the economy
  • Biomedicalization, pharmaceutical consumption and the environment

Short Biography

Janina Kehr is Professor of Medical Anthropology and Global Health at the Institute for Social and Cultural Anthropology at the University of Vienna. She studied ethnology and political science at the University of Göttingen and the University of California Santa Cruz. In 2012 she did her doctorate with a co-tutelle de thèse at the Ecole des hautes études en sciences sociales Paris and the Humboldt University Berlin. Between 2011 and 2017 she was assistant and senior assistant in the interdisciplinary context of medical humanities at the chair for medical history at the University of Zurich. Before she came to Vienna, she researched and taught between 2017 and 2020 as an SNSF Ambizione Research Fellow at the Institute for Social Anthropology at the University of Bern.

She works and publishes on time politics, moral economies and the environmental impact of biomedicine and public health. She is currently working on a book on Medicine in Times of Austerity in Spain, which will focus on public health infrastructures and care practices at the intersection of debt economies, government bureaucracy and everyday experiences.

"In a globalized world where people and pathogens are deeply entangled, medicine and care are central aspects of everyday life, whose challenges for individuals and societies I investigate in their wider relations to politics, the economy and the environment."


Courrent Projecs/Dissertations/or similar

Less is More: De-Prescribing Pharmaceuticals for Patient Safety and Sustainable Public

Today, the right to health is often enacted as a right to access pharmaceuticals. This pharmaceuticalization of public health creates both opportunities for relief and new risks for patient safety and sustainability such as overmedicalization, waning effectiveness, and iatrogenic harm. In health policy making, a “less is more” approach of de-prescribing has become part of quaternary prevention with optimization of services at its core. Existing policies focus on guidelines for providers and indirect user regulation. Yet, little is known about provider and user experience or circulation pathways–pharmaceuticals’ “cultural efficacy”–that could inform a more context-sensitive, evidence-based policy approach. Our project uses antibiotics and benzodiazepines as similar-but-contrasting cases and an integrated anthropology-public health approach to investigate their prescription, circulation, and use. We will develop an ethnographically grounded, expert-validated policy blueprint with an implementation model for de-prescribing at the macro (policy), meso (institutions), and micro (provider/patient) level to explore as-yet invisible social arenas, close the data gap, and mitigate unwanted side-effects. With its population density and diversity, health service availability, and robust drug policy program, Vienna is the ideal location for an ambitious study to generate an innovative de-prescribing model for sustainable public health outcomes that can be adapted to other local contexts.

Selected Publications

  • 2023 “Health for all? Pasts, presents and futures of aspirations for universal healthcare” & Jacinta Victoria Syombua Muinde and Ruth J. Prince. Social Science & Medicine 319 (2023) 115660
  • 2022 “The moral economy of universal public healthcare. On healthcare activism in austerity Spain” Social Science & Medicine 319 (2023) 115363
  • 2021 “Spectacular Infrastructure: Madrid’s Pandemic Hospital between Public Spectacle and Speculation” Somatosphere. Science, Medicine and Anthropology
  • 2021 “The Hospital Multiple. Introduction” & Fanny, C. Somatosphere. Science, Medicine and Anthropology
  • 2021 “Spectres de la tuberculose: Une maladie du passé au temps présent“ Presses Universitaires de Rennes
    • Moulin, Anne Marie. 2022. “Le spectre de la médecine du futur”. médecine/sciences 38, no. 3 (1 March 2022): 313–15.
    • Linte, Guillaume. 2022. “Janina Kehr, Spectres de la tuberculose. Une maladie du passé au temps présent”. Histoire, médecine et santé, no. 19 (12 January 2022): 195–98.
  • 2020 “For a more-than-human public health” BioSocieties 15 (2020) S. 650-663
  • 2020 “Santé globale et humanités médicales critiques: Enseigner l’histoire et l’anthropologie de la santé aux étudiant.e.s en médecine” & Vagneron, F., Humanités Médicales: Des sciences sociales aux transformations de la medicine. Céline, L., Thoreau, F. & Alexis, Z. (Hrsg.). (2020) S. 143-148
  • 2020 “Toward the Otherwise: Medicine, Anthropology, Politics” Zeitschrift für Ethnologie 145 (2020) S. 25-44
  • 2020 “Valuation Struggles: Rethinking the Economy in Times of Crisis: A Conversation with Susana Narotzky, Patrícia Matos, and Antonio Maria Pusceddu” & Gerhild, P. & Corinne, S., Tsantsa: Revue de la Société Suisse d'Ethnologie 25 (2020) S. 175-186
  • 2019 “Transfigurations of Health and the Moral Economy of Medicine: Subjectivities, Materialities, Values” Meillan-Kehr, J., van Eeuwijk, P. & Dilger, H., Zeitschrift für Ethnologie 143 (2019) S. 1-20
  • 2019 “’It’s also the System’: Republican Dilemmas in French Tuberculosis Prevention” Anthropological Approaches to Tuberculosis. Ian, H. & Helen, M. (Hrsg.). London: Routledge, S. 88-105
  • 2019 “Se plaindre des soins dans l’Espagne de l’austérité” Mouvements 16 (2019)
  • 2018 “Colonial Hauntings: Migrant Care in a French Hospital” Medical Anthropology 37, no. 8 (17 November 2018): 659–73.

Find the full list of Janina Kehr's publications in u:cris