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Susanna Trnka

Medical Anthropologist 


BA (University of California at Berkeley), PhD (Princeton University)

Professor of Anthropology, University of Auckland (New Zealand)

I am a social/cultural and medical anthropologist based in Aotearoa/New Zealand. My primary interest is in the politics of the body. I have conducted research in the Czech Republic, Aotearoa/NZ, and Fiji on patient subjectivity; crises and states of emergency; state-citizen relations; and embodiment. Since 2023, I have been the Editor-in-Chief of American Ethnologist; you can read about my vision for the journal here.

I am currently finishing up a research project investigating how young New Zealanders use digital technology to re-envision what it is to be healthy. Based on interviews with more than 200 New Zealand youth, I examine how health is expanding to include not only physical and mental health, but our intimate relationships and emotions, our sense of “balance,” our capacity to accept loneliness, the number of miles we have run, swum, or bicycled, whether or not we choose to wear lipstick, to the point of almost encompassing life itself.

I have also published extensively on state-citizen relations during the Covid pandemic. Focusing on Aotearoa/NZ, I have traced the phenomenology of living under lockdown and other moments of “crisis,” as well as examined how citizens partake in constituting states of emergency.

My most recent book, focusing on the Czech Republic, is a phenomenological, ethnographic examination of our ways of seeing, experiencing, and moving through the world and the kinds of persons we become, a process I refer to as traversing.

about me
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