Ayo Wahlberg

Ayo Wahlberg

Head of Department

Member of:

Primary fields of research

Member of the researcher groups "Health and Life Conditions" and "Techne".

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The Making of Quality of Life - More people than ever before are living with disease. Funded by the European Research Council (ERC-2014-STG-639275), the VITAL project (2015-2021) empirically investigated and analysed the making of ‘quality of life’ through five concrete ethnographic studies of: genetic counselling, patient education programmes, clinical trials and patient associations. VITAL studies have focused on how knowledge about living with disease is assembled and mobilised, on the one hand, and how chronic living is negotiated and practiced on the other.

Selected publications:

Selective reproduction - Over the last decades, selective reproductive technologies (SRTs) have come to be routinised throughout the world. Such technologies are used to prevent or promote the birth of certain 'kinds of children' (e.g. a child with a 'serious disease', a healthy child, a boy) through the selective fertilisation of gametes, implantation of embryos or abortion of foetuses. Funded by the Danish Council for Independent Research (grant no. 10–094341), over a 7 year period (2007-2014) I carried out episodic fieldwork at China's (and the world's) largest fertility clinic and sperm bank. Listen to an interview here.

Selected publications:

Traditional and Alternative Medicine (TM/CAM) - My PhD – Modernisation and Its Side Effects – was a comparative examination of the cotemporaneous revivals of traditional herbal medicine in Vietnam and the United Kingdom since the mid-20th century. I show how herbal medicine came to be mobilised in very different ways in the two national contexts, albeit within frameworks of modernisation/colonisation critique. Listen to an interview here.

Selected publications:

Current research

In December 2014 I received a Starting Grant from the European Research Council for a five-year project entitled “The Vitality of Disease - Quality of Life in the Making".


My teaching is currently focused on the anthropology of global health, global development and theory of science. I always work to ensure that my own research from Asia and Europe is integrated into my teaching, while at the same time also promoting teaching-based research through class projects and collective problem formulations in the courses I teach.


I currently supervise in the following thematics/areas:

China, Vietnam, United Kingdom, Denmark, medical anthropology, anthropology of science, science and technology studies, traditional medicine, alternative medicine, reproductive technologies, quality of life, life and biological/biomedical research, clinical trials, vitality, ethics of human subjects research, the social study of (bio)medicine

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