Public Event – Cal Biruk

Cooking Data: Culture and Politics in an African Research World


Oberlin anthropologist Cal Biruk comes to Scripps to explore the social worlds, transactions, and politics that emerge in and around research projects collecting health data in Malawi, and their implications for how we understand numbers and enumeration in global health and beyond.

Cal Biruk is Associate Professor of Anthropology at Oberlin College. Cal is the author of Cooking Data: Culture and Politics in an African Research World (Duke U Press, 2018) and numerous articles in venues such as Medical Anthropology Quarterly, Medicine Anthropology Theory, Journal of Modern African Studies, Critical Public Health and Critical African Studies. Cal’s research and teaching interests are at the intersection of medical anthropology, critical data studies and queer studies. Her second book project, Fake Gays: Metrics, Ethics and Authenticity in African Aid Economies, draws on long term ethnographic work with an LGBT-rights NGO in Malawi to capture the relations and transactions that constitute diverse political, identity, and economic projects that play out within aid geographies in the global South. Fake Gays melds insights from queer theory and critical data studies to show how numbers and quantification become unlikely resources in queer projects on the ground.

This program is made possible by the Department of Anthropology in partnership with the Scripps College Humanities Institute.