Dr. Marlee Tichenor
Medical Anthropologist of Global Health Policy and Metrics
I am a medical anthropologist and qualitative researcher specializing in the politics of evidence and data in global health policy and intervention. My doctoral research at UC Berkeley and UC San Francisco was a multi-sited ethnographic study of pharmaceutical interventions, antimalarial resistance research, and community-based approaches to the fight against malaria in Senegal. My second project, at the Usher Institute at the University of Edinburgh with the Global Health Governance Programme with Professor Devi Sridhar, investigated the development of metrics at the World Bank for measuring success in global health projects, as well as their influence on the global agenda of, and national strategies for, universal health coverage. My most recent research, as a part of Professor Sotiria Grek's METRO project in the Social Policy Department at the University of Edinburgh, interrogated the way statistical capacity development became its own goal in the global push for the Sustainable Development Goals, and how official statistics are situated as, and have become, a new contentious terrain for a growing community of international organisations to stake claims over sustainable futures.
Malarial Proximities: Ordering Illness and Global Health Discourses in Senegal
My book project, Malarial Proximities, ethnographically explores questions of causality, etiology, responsibility, and accountability on multiple scales of the health fight against malaria in Senegal and at production sites of global health governance. As a concept, “malarial proximities” refers to the near-misses, approximations, and proxies of malarial evidence across difference and distance, as well as the ecological, conceptual, and institutional entanglements that a certain vision of malaria produces. Determining and reifying the proximities that matter in designing and implementing health interventions against malaria is the process by which malaria is defined and given solutions are justified. I argue that this proximity-making is crucial to the global health fight against malaria in particular, as well as to global health ventures in general, in three major ways. First, global malaria governance erases the complex, everyday proximities of malaria through the regulation of treatment, prevention, and diagnosis practices. Next, it depends on the proximities created, through advocacy, between the produced suffering, economically-rational individual who is the target of health interventions and global health development donors. Finally, it relies on the production of a proximate malaria through market and data modeling practices. Malaria is far more than a parasitic disease that can be known in the ways the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and other global health organizations attempt to address it. Malarial parasites are dependent on the environmental milieu of both mosquito and human host, and malaria case and mortality rates are caught in the social, economic, and political conditions of populations.
Bandola-Gill J, Grek S, & Tichenor M. 2022. Governing the Sustainable Development Goals: Quantification in Global Social Policy. Springer/ Palgrave Macmillan: Sustainable Development Goals Series.
Tichenor M, Merry SE, Grek S, & Bandola-Gill J. 2022. Global Public Policy in a Quantified World: Sustainable Development Goals as Epistemic Infrastructures. Policy & Society, puac015.
Interrogating the World Bank's role in global health knowledge production, governance, and finance
Tichenor M, Winters J, Storeng K, et al. 2021. Interrogating the World Bank's role in global health knowledge production, governance, and finance. Globalization and Health 17 (110).
Tichenor, M. 2020. Metrics. In The Cambridge Encyclopedia of Anthropology. F. Stein, S. Lazar, M. Candea, H. Diemberger, J. Robbins, A. Sanchez & R. Stasch, eds.
Tichenor M & Sridhar D. 2020. Metric Partnerships: Global Burden of Disease Estimates within the World Bank, the World Health Organisation and the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation. Wellcome Open Research 4: 35.
Tichenor M & Sridhar D. 2017. Universal health coverage, health systems strengthening, and the World Bank. British Medical Journal 358: j3347.
Tichenor M. 2017. Data Performativity, Performing Health Work: Malaria and Labor in Senegal. Medical Anthropology 36(5): 436-448.
Tichenor M. 2016. The Power of Data: Global Health Citizenship and the Senegalese Data Retention Strike. In Metrics: What Counts in Global Health. Vincanne Adams, ed. Pp. 106- 124. Durham: Duke University Press.
Teaching and Supervision
In the 2022-2023, I will convene two courses in the Department of Anthropology at Durham University. The first is "Anthropology of Data and Quantification," a third year interdisciplinary course on the social science of the ramifications of quantification. The second is "Critical Perspectives in Data Science," a mandatory postgraduate course for the Master of Data Science.
I have eight years of experience teaching undergraduate and postgraduate courses in anthropology, public health, and research methodologies. Please click through to see a selection of syllabi from these courses.
I have experience supervising undergraduate and postgraduate (both masters and doctoral students) in anthropology, African studies, and public health. I am open to and interested in supervising undergraduate and postgraduate students in medical anthropology, public health, social policy, and science and technology studies. Please feel free to email me at the address below.
Sept 2021 - Present
Lecturer (Visiting Assistant Professor)
As a lecturer in Social/Health Anthropology at Durham University, I convene and help on medical anthropology and social anthropology courses, as well as conduct anthropological research and supervise students' research.
Jan 2020 - Sept 2021
As part of the METRO project in the Social Policy Department at the University of Edinburgh, I interrogated the debates about and infrastructures maintained around statistical capacity in the context of the Sustainable Development Goals.
Jan 2017 - Dec 2019
As a Research Fellow with the Global Health Governance Programme in the Usher Institute at the University of Edinburgh, I investigated the World Bank's interventions into universal health coverage and their role in the rise of global health metrics.
Aug 2016 - Dec 2016
As a lecturer in the Department of Anthropology at the University of California, Berkeley, I designed, organized, and taught the upper division undergraduate course, "Anthropology 189: Race, Racialization, and the Production of the Other."