Eirik Saethre, Faculty, Department of Anthropology, University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa

Eirik Saethre

Associate Professor
Office: Saunders 306
Telephone: 1 (808) 956-3995
Email: saethre@hawaii.edu

UH Award Winner

Chancellor's Citation for Meritorious Teaching (2012)

College of Social Sciences Award for Excellence in Teaching (2019)


My research investigates inequality, suffering, and identity. I focus on the ways in which social, economic, and political struggles contextualize medical knowledge and action. I have examined these themes in Australia, South Africa, and Serbia. My current trajectory began with my doctoral research in Australia, where I studied the complex meanings of health, sickness, and treatment in a remote Aboriginal community. My work explores how Aboriginal people wield illness and affliction to assert the vitality of Indigeneity and transform stigma into a source of power.


  • PhD, Anthropology, Australian National University, 2004
  • MA, Philosophy and Social Anthropology, University of St. Andrews, 1994


  • ANTH 152: Culture and Humanity
  • ANTH 301: Culture and Health
  • ANTH 426: The Anthropology of Sexuality
  • ANTH 427: Food, Health, and Society
  • ANTH 428: Anthropology of the Body
  • ANTH 467: Biomedicine and Culture
  • ANTH 611: Contemporary Anthropological Theory
  • ANTH 667: Biomedicine and Culture


My post-doctoral research examines the experiences of female clinical trial volunteers in Johannesburg’s townships. I argue that the trial’s ambiguous nature encouraged participants to assert a newfound agency in their relationships with medical researchers and male sexual partners. Consequently, women portrayed the HIV prevention trial as a source of moral and physical salvation. My most recent project investigates the lives of Ashkali refugees residing in Belgrade’s informal Romani settlements. Accustomed to being stigmatized as dirty Gypsies, Ashkali inhabit a constrained terrain in which violent marginalization is, in their words, boring. Following families as they survive by scavenging trash, this research reconceptualizes the relationship between segregation and suffering.