In The Media


The Independent, 2021
“We have seen stigmatising language being used which blames young people for not ‘doing the right thing’,” said medical anthropologist Dr Ben Kasstan of Bristol University. “But they have been receiving mixed government messages from the start of the pandemic, creating the perception that they are not a priority for protection, and public health is now paying the price for that.”


Metro, 2021
Dr Ben Kasstan, a medical anthropologist at the University of Bristol, said the data raised urgent questions about the delivery of the vaccination programme in ethnic and religious minority communities and lessons learned. He said: ‘Putting issues in accessibility aside, policymakers need to look at how long-running issues of trust and social exclusion may be being directed towards the coronavirus vaccine programme, and thinking intersectionally across race, religion, and socioeconomic status will be essential as we move forward.”


New Statesman, 2021
Dr Ben Kasstan, a medical anthropologist at the University of Bristol, told the New Statesman: “The survey data does not tell us why concerns are more prevalent in these groups. It is important to examine whether concerns directed at coronavirus vaccines reflect broader issues of inequality that shape engagement with statutory and healthcare services.”


BBC Africa, 2021
Le Dr Ben Kasstan, anthropologue médical à l’université de Bristol, voit une autre incitation forte sous la forme de règles de voyage spécifiques pour les personnes vaccinées. “Nous voyons déjà des pays comme la France admettre des personnes entièrement vaccinées sans qu’aucun test Covid-19 ne soit nécessaire”, déclare le Dr Kasstan. “Pour la grande majorité des gens, ce sera une excellente forme d’incitation pour voyager pour le travail, les vacances ou pour voir des amis et de la famille dans différents pays.” Au bout du compte, le plus grand test de l’efficacité de ces incitations prendra la forme d’une augmentation des taux de vaccination. Jusqu’à présent, le jury ne s’est pas encore prononcé.


Minority report(ing) on vaccinations: who are the priorities and the dilemma of protection
LSE Religion & Global Society

Against a backdrop of disproportionate morbidity and mortality from COVID-19, the need to prioritise and protect ethnic and religious minorities as part of the UK’s new vaccine programme has been the focus of recent media, public health and government attention. My question is whois considered a ‘priority’ and how can public health bodies engage productively and sensitively with ethnic and religious minorities.


Having ‘faith’ in vaccination
Berkley Centre for Religion, Peace & World Affairs, Georgetown University

I argue that the endorsement of vaccines by religious authorities does not really reflect the full and diverse reality of vaccine decision-making among ethnic and religious minorities.


Angry at ultra-Orthodox Jews for ‘defying’ coronavirus rules? It’s more complicated than that
Haaretz 2020

Researching the Haredi community’s relations with the public health system, it’s clear both the state and religious leaders bear responsibility for the tragic breakdown in preparing ultra-Orthodox Jews for a pandemic like COVID-19


Covid-19 in comparison: Loo roll and losing loved ones in Israel and England
Discover Society 2020

I briefly compare Israeli and UK public health responses to the Coronavirus pandemic and point to the economic, political and social contexts in which they play out. I want to draw attention to what might be shaping public health responses and welfare at a time of extreme social panic.


Church, State and Hospital: Haredi Encounters With Healthcare Services
TLV1Podcast 2019

How does healthcare serve as a borderland between ‘church and state’? Dr Ben Kasstan discusses his new book Making Bodies Kosher: The Politics of Reproduction Among Haredi Jews in England with Gilad Halpern and guest co-host Dina Kraft.


A ‘Right to be Queer’: Centring LGBT+ Youth in Debates over Inclusive Relationships & Sex Education
London School of Economics: Religion & Global Society 2019
London School of Economics: British Politics & Policy 2019

In recent months, proposed reforms to Relationships & Sex Education (RSE) in England have been a source of intense political controversy. In particular, there has been strong opposition to the inclusion of LGBT+ identities within any new curriculum, particularly among communities of faith and those operating faith-based schools. In this article, Ben Kasstan and Peter Dunne discuss the importance of ‘having faith’ in inclusive RSE, and consider how this complex debate may develop with the arrival of Boris Johnson, and his Cabinet, in Government.


Making ‘Vaccines work’ for everybody
University of Sussex 2019

Protecting child health is the aspiration of parents, healthcare professionals, and anthropologists like me. Working together to understand how concerns can be addressed is the most sustainable and effective way to show that vaccines can work for everybody.


Vast Majority of Abortions in High-Income Countries happen before 13th Week of Pregnancy
Newsweek 2019

Ben Kasstan, a research fellow in anthropology at Britain’s University of Sussex, told Newsweek, “The important point [of the study] is that the broad shift towards medical abortion being performed before 13 weeks’ gestation does not mean that abortion legislation should be limited to 13 weeks’ gestation.”


Northern Ireland and The Referendum, podcast featuring Ben Kasstan
At the end of May 2018 the Republic of Ireland held a referendum to appeal a law which up until that time, had effectively made abortion illegal. Voters chose by a clear majority to change this law and repeal the 8th amendment. But why does abortion continue to be such a controversial subject? By looking at how issues around the referendum affect the people of Northern Ireland this episode of the Glass Bead Game podcast is an enquiry into what abortion laws mean and how different groups navigate their way around them.


Politicians must explain why Women in Northern Ireland should be treated Unfairly
The Independent 2018

Northern Ireland’s restrictive abortion laws must now be brought into line with the rest of the UK. Politicians opposing abortion law reform have a responsibility to explain why women in Northern Ireland, who are UK citizens, should be treated unfairly, and why they should have to seek care in England, Scotland or possibly Ireland.


This is a Chance to Vote Yes for Change
Evening Standard 2018

Almost 130,000 Londoners were born in the Republic of Ireland and many of these will be crossing the Irish Sea on May 25 to vote in the country’s abortion care referendum. Voters will feel anxious about the intensely polarising “pro-choice” or “pro-life” debates but public health services are mandated to address inequalities. This means giving women access to specific healthcare services so they can participate in society on as much a level playing field as possible. May 25 is an opportunity to vote together for Yes.


Vulva La Resistance: Dublin’s Sixth March For Choice
Huffington Post 2017

Ireland’s abortion laws are among the strictest in Europe. Article 40.3.3, inserted into the Irish Constitution by its Eighth Amendment, formalises in law the equal right to life of a woman and the embryo or fetus she carries. This law is born from the union between ‘church and state’ in Ireland.

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