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School of Geography

Commensurability and friction in health networks

Uganda’s Parliament House in Kampala, officially opened in 1962, projected a modern vision of government at the country’s independence (Credit: Kerry Holden).
Uganda’s Parliament House in Kampala, officially opened in 1962, projected a modern vision of government at the country’s independence (Credit: Kerry Holden).

Commensurability and friction in health networks explores the production, politics and governance of vital systems at multiple scales. Working with a range of non-governmental organisations (e.g. INASP in the UK and the Ugandan National Health Research Organisation), Kerry Holden’s ESRC Future Research Leader-funded research examined the uses of evidence in the Ugandan parliament. Raising questions about how knowledge practices shape political culture and promote democracy, the research reveals how civil servants and institutions achieve commensurability through the everyday enactment and performance of evidence techniques. Sydney Calkin’s research on reproductive health considers how emergent activist networks and forms of technology are changing abortion access patterns, moving abortion care beyond conventional forms of state control, and cultivating alternative transnational structures for safe but clandestine abortion. Through ongoing collaborations (e.g. Yale University), Simon Reid-Henry’s interdisciplinary investigations into vital geographies and ‘counter-vitalities’ examine how human lives are valued and devalued. Working across sub-disciplines, this research demonstrates how health itself becomes a powerful discursive domain and exposes how tensions in enacting and securing vital systems birth new logics, values, and power relations within “global health.”