Escalating issue of clinical waste

Anna Harris awarded ERC Consolidator Grant

Anna Harris has been awarded an ERC Consolidator Grant of €2 million for her project ‘The Upcycled Clinic: A global ethnography of material creativity in contemporary medicine’. The project addresses the escalating issue of clinical waste.

Upcycling materials

Hospitals in particular have become sites of disposability in recent years. Attempts to address this can be top-down and technocratic, often still reliant on a mode of further production. The Upcycled Clinic takes a different route into the problem. It focuses on creative practices already happening in the clinic, involving making the most of existing materials. Anna’s team will conduct fieldwork across five carefully selected clinical sites around the world where such improvisations are highlighted due to different constraints, including Antarctica, Ghana, the Netherlands, the U.S and U.K. Her team will do fieldwork and interviews to find out more about the conditions which cultivate and curtail creative material engagement in the clinic.

The proposal was informed by Anna’s own work as a doctor in hospitals, her many years doing ethnography in medical places and her personal interests in mending, repairing and upcycling. The project will open up her own field, the social study of medicine, with new methodologies, developing novel ways of reusing and sharing research material in ethnography that adopts sensory methods and rethinks data waste.

Contributions from the rich case of the clinic will also help address long-standing questions regarding creativity, resilience and innovation in the workplace. Practically, the study promises to articulate conditions under which healthcare can leverage creativity and pay better attention to local solutions to wastefulness and shortage.


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