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Dr. B. (Branwyn) Poleykett

Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences
Programme group: Anthropology of Health, Care and the Body

Visiting address
  • Nieuwe Achtergracht 166
Postal address
  • Postbus 15509
    1001 NA Amsterdam
Contact details
  • Research Profile

    I am an Assistant Professor in the Health, Care and the Body research group. I am a critical medical anthropologist and my work centers on the practice of public, global and planetary health, drawing on long term ethnographic research in Dakar, Senegal.

    My monograph Lines of Sight: Public Health in a Senegalese Image World (under review) brings together visual and medical anthropology to examine how health authorities, filmmakers, Sufi urban artists, and environmental activists created publics around depictions of the body. Analyzing vernacular images for their didactic efficacy, and public health interventions for their auratic potentiality, Lines of Sight examines the immersion of public health communication in local image worlds and media ecologies. Through a series of communicative cases (health literacy, suasive speech, mass protest, dramaturgical scenarios, and the representation of the unseen), Lines of Sight asks how the calibration of communitas embedded in Senegalese images can help us to imagine and practice a different kind of public health.

    Since 2018 my research has focused on everyday eating and the politics of diet in urban Senegal. My work on the impact of the emergence of chronic disease on how people procure, prepare and share food has been published in Critical Public HealthBody and Society, Food and Culture, and Somatosphere.

    While conducting research on living with chronic disease I often heard my interlocuters say that modern bodies could be healed through a reimagining of the urban diet and a return to “traditional” foodways. This led me to refocus my work on the complex promise of one crop: millet. Considered in Senegal a potential alternative to imported rice, millets and other “ancient grains” are increasingly imagined in a range of global contexts as a panacea for the interlocking ecological, economic and nutritional challenges facing the global food system.

    In 2023 I conducted fieldwork with my collaborator Aminata Diallo to investigate the role of millet in mitigating the impact of an inflationary food price crisis. While often hidden from sight, “traditional” millets play a vital role in urban social reproduction, helping urban households to ride out moments of acute food insecurity. This ongoing work forms the basis of my second monograph which will examine the urban food crisis from the perspective of Dakarois involved in the buying, selling, transformation, cooking and eating of food.

    I strive to make the findings of my research accessible and impactful. In collaboration with the Senegalese NGO Enda Santé I have initiated a new project Knowledge Ecologies for Food Transformation (KEF). The KEF project aims to generate new knowledge about community based nutrition and to generate new approaches to epistemic justice and reciprocal transformation in research collaborations.

  • Teaching

    I coordinate an undergraduate Theme Course, the Anthropology of Health, Care and the Body. I also co-teach the course Theorising Practice, Practicing Theory on the Medical Anthropology and Sociology Masters Programme.


  • Publications


    • Poleykett, B., Sall, N., Ndow, F., & Young, P. (2024). Coproducing “Planetary” Eating Futures from Dakar: Dietary Diffusionism and the (Geo)politics of Nutrition Transition. Gastronomica, 24(2), 58-67.



    • Heney, V., & Poleykett, B. (2022). The impossibility of engaged research: Complicity and accountability between researchers, ‘publics’ and institutions. Sociology of Health and Illness, 54(S1), 179-194. Advance online publication.
    • Poleykett, B. (2022). A broom to the head: ‘Cleaning Day’ and the aesthetics of emergence in Dakar. Urban Studies, 59(2), 381-396. Advance online publication. [details]
    • Poleykett, B. (2022). Collective eating and the management of chronic disease in Dakar: translating and enacting dietary advice. Critical public health, 32(4), 462-471. Advance online publication.


    • Lynteris , C., & Poleykett, B. (2018). The anthropology of epidemic control: technologies and materialities. Medical Anthropology, 37(6), 433-441.
    • Poleykett, B. (2018). Ethnohistory and the Dead: Cultures of Colonial Epidemiology. Medical Anthropology, 37(6), 472-485.
    • Poleykett, B. (2018). Made in Denmark: scientific mobilities and the place of pedagogy in Global Health. Global public health, 13(3), 276-287.
    • Poleykett, B. (2018). Public culture and the spectacle of epidemic disease in Rabat and Casablanca. In Plague and the City (pp. 159-172). Routledge.


    • Poleykett, B. (2017). Pasteurian tropical medicine and colonial scientific vision. Subjectivity, 10(2).



    • Poleykett, B. (2015). Molecular and municipal politics: Research and regulation in Dakar. In Para-States and Medical Science: Making African Global Health (pp. 237-256). Duke University Press.



    • Poleykett, B. (2019). Une expérience ambiguë? Catégorisations de la sexualité rétribuée et lutte contre le sida au Sénégal. In Se Mobiliser Contre le Sida en Afrique : Sous la sante globale, les luttes associatives Paris, L’Harmattan Harmattan.


    This list of publications is extracted from the UvA-Current Research Information System. Questions? Ask the library or the Pure staff of your faculty / institute. Log in to Pure to edit your publications. Log in to Personal Page Publication Selection tool to manage the visibility of your publications on this list.
  • Ancillary activities
    No ancillary activities