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About Dr Emma Varley

My research consists of multi-sited and multi-paradigmatic exploration of Muslim women’s reproductive and maternal health in northern Pakistan.
My prior and current fieldwork involves investigation of the wide constellation of socio-economic, political, and also cosmological risks that women and their therapeutic providers assert influence maternal health outcomes in the Gilgit-Baltistan region. A second component of my research analyzes the ways Shia-Sunni hostilities and issues of sectarian identity and affiliation shape the distribution of health development projects and influence northern Pakistani women’s access to health services and their maternal health outcomes.
Recent publications analyze the cultural construction and politics of childbirth and health service provision during conflict, the implications of Islamic conservatism for Family Planning provision and social marketing, sorcery as an ethno-etiological category that underlies and is used to explain women’s health vulnerabilities, and the impacts of the 2004 tsunami for Thai health service providers' psychosocial well-being.
My current ethnographic research explores and theorizes South Asian health institutions and their place in local social and cultural worlds, medical corruption, mismanagement, and neglect, medical ethics and bioethics in a global perspective, and Safe Motherhood health health policy, programs, and services as forms of therapeutic governance.

Research Interests

Medical Anthropology, Socio-Cultural Anthropology, Qualitative Research Methods, Reproductive and Maternal Health, Violence and Conflict, Islam, and Northern Pakistan

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Honors and Awards

  • Killam Post-Doctoral Fellow, Dalhousie University (2008-2010)
  • SSHRC Doctoral Fellow, University of Toronto (2002-2006)


  • ANTH 391: Medical Anthropology (2010, 2011)
  • ANTH 320: Qualitative Research Methods (2010, 2011)
  • ANTH 243: Anthropology of Violence and Conflict (2011)

Contact Information

Health Services Academy
Opposite National Institute of Health (NIH)
Chak Shahzad, Islamabad
Phone: 051-9255590-4
Fax: 051-9255591


Medical Anthropology (7)

Qualitative Research Methods (2)

2010 Floods (Pakistan) (4)

Islam (2)

Disaster Studies (1)

Magic & Sorcery (1)