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Dr Griet Scheldeman

Formerly at Lancaster University

Griet Scheldeman



may have killed the cat. More likely
the cat was just unlucky
(A. Reid )

  • PhD in Social Anthropology, 2006 - St Andrews University, Scotland
  • MLitt in Social Anthropology,1999 - St Andrews University, Scotland
  • Master in Social and Cultural Anthropology,1994 - University of Leuven (KUL), Belgium
  • MA in Modern History,1992 - University of Leuven (KUL), Belgium

Research Interests

anthropology of health and illness, phenomenological anthropology, embodiment, human-technology interface.

ecological anthropology, perception, environment, landscape aesthetics, processes/practices of making and seeing.

PhD research

For my doctoral research I carried out two years of comparative ethnographic fieldwork amongst health care staff and adolescent patients in paediatric diabetes centres across Scotland, Europe and the US. The thesis describes the ways diabetes is lived and practised by young people, their health carers and insulin pumps. I explore the dynamics of diabetes care on two levels. First, I consider the interaction between health carers and patients. Comparative data show how culturally and socially informed approaches towards adolescence, health and illness shape both care practices and patients' experiences, resulting in different medical outcomes. The dynamics in this care environment change as a third actor enters the scene: the insulin pump. I investigate the balancing act between adolescents and their pumps, examining how a device for insulin injection can double as a tool to attain a desired identity and freedom. More broadly, the work portrays how a uniform technological device is embedded in specific cultural and social contexts, by describing the evolving relations between different elements of the care framework: health carers — adolescents — pumps.

Current research

Exploratory fieldwork with artists, to investigate the aesthetics of landscape as a creative engagement with surroundings, thus questioning the commonly held view that any aesthetic engagement necessarily implies an extent of disengagement; This research is informed by the larger dilemma of a phenomenologically inspired anthropology –seemingly destined to look at and write about rather than being with/in.

Selected Publications

Chapters in Books

Primed for well-being: young people, diabetes and insulin pumps. In Culture and well-being. Anthropological approaches to freedom and political ethics, ed. A. Corsin-Jimenez. London: Pluto Press, 2008.

Technokids? Insulin pumps incorporated in young people's lives. In Technologized images, technologized bodies. Anthropological approaches to a new politics of vision, eds J. Edwards, P. Harvey and P. Wade. Berghahn Books. Forthcoming 2008.


Nergård, J-I. Den levende erfaring. En studie i samisk kunnskapstradisjon. Oslo: Cappelen Akademisk Forlag, 2006.


Ways of Seeing: from Antarctica to Lego land
'Landscapes beyond land: The ecology of perception and the aesthetics of landscape' seminar, Collège de France, Paris. March 2007.

Sweet Sixteen? Performing diabetes with insulin pumps. Wellbeing, embodiment and incorporation
Departmental seminar, Department of Anthropology, University of Aberdeen. March 2007.

Life on line: a phenomenological approach to adolescents' life with diabetes
Centre for the Anthropological Study of Knowledge and Ethics, Department of Social Anthropology, St Andrews University. May 2006.

Making worlds – making ourselves: creativity as 'doing' imagination
Association of Social Anthropologists (ASA) conference 'Creativity and Cultural Improvisation', University of Aberdeen. April 2005.

Closer to being normal? Young people's lives with insulin pumps
European Association of Social Anthropologists (EASA) Conference 'Face to face', University of Vienna, Austria. September 2004.

Well-being, health and quality of life: insulin pump usage among adolescent diabetics
Symposium 'Well-being: anthropological perspectives' University of Manchester. September 2004.

Insulin pumps incorporated in young people's bodies and lives: existential dynamics of a medical device
'Making sense of health, illness and disease' Conference at St Catherine's College, Oxford. July 2004.

Technokids? Insulin pumps incorporated in young people's lives
Association of Social Anthropologists (ASA) Conference 'Anthropology and Science', University of Manchester. July 2003.

Insulin pump therapy in adolescents in Scotland: the lure of freedom
'Diabetes research perspectives' Conference at the Institute for Health Research, University of Bradford. September 2003.

Poster: Insulin pump therapy in adolescents in Scotland: investigating health beliefs of patients and health professionals
International Society for Paediatric and Adolescent Diabetes (ISPAD) Congress, St Malo, France. September 2003.

Insulin pumps: an anthropological viewpoint
'Gathering Pace' Medical Insulin Pump Conference at Birmingham. October 2002.

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