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.

Policy & Knowledge Exchange

2021 Cited in WHO Implementation Support Guidance, The role of community health workers in COVID-19 vaccination.

2021 Acknowledgement UK Parliament POST Rapid Response, Covid-19 vaccine coverage and targeted interventions to improve vaccination uptake.

2020 Submission of evidence on the implications of the COVID-19 crisis for social and statutory connections with ‘isolated’ groups. APPG on Social Integration. Acknowledged in 2020 Report ‘Social Connection in the COVID-19 Crisis

2020 Submission of evidence on the disproportionate impact of COVID-19, and the UK government response, on ethnic minorities in the UK. Women & Equalities Commission, UK Government

2019 Submission of evidence on vaccine uptake and confidence. APPG on Vaccinations for All. Acknowledged in 2021 Report ‘Improving Vaccine Uptake

2019 Submission of evidence on access to contraception. APPG on Sexual and Reproductive Health

2018 Submission of evidence on the teaching of relationships and sex education in faith schools in England. UK Department of Education

2018 Irish voters repealed the Eighth: Now it’s time to ensure access to abortion care in law and in practice. Reproductive Health Matters, Commentary

2018 Sanitizing public health language: A response to the CDC language controversy (with M. Gregg and J. Kasstan). PLOS Public Health Perspectives, Commentary

2017 Submission of research evidence on prenatal sex selective abortion in India and the UK. APPG on Population, Development, and Reproductive Health (hearings on abortion in the UK and developing world). Acknowledged in 2018 Report ‘Who Decides? We Trust Women: Abortion in the Developing World & UK



Making Bodies Kosher
The Politics of Reproduction among Haredi Jews in England

Berghahn Books 2019

This is an analysis of the ways in which Haredi Jews negotiate healthcare services using theoretical perspectives in political philosophy. It will allow readers to understand how reproductive care issues affect this growing minority population.

Making Bodies Kosher is available as an Open Access download, thanks to the Wellcome Trust.

“A successful juxtaposition of the history of medicine, Jewish Studies and medical anthropology, Making Bodies Kosher re-assesses sweeping categorisations of ethno- religious minorities and their complex relationships to public health interventions and health care.” Social History of Medicine

“This somewhat prophetic text is timely for the various online syllabi medical anthropologists are preparing for teaching amid the COVID-19 pandemic.”
Medical Anthropology Quarterly

“In this novel ethnography, Ben Kasstan advances an illuminating perspective on public healthcare as a borderland for religious minority groups in England. The book offers an important theoretical resource for others who are uncomfortable with the ‘hard-to-reach’ descriptor, particularly those of us who are working with economically marginalised minority populations or in the context of hard-hitting gender inequalities.”  Medicine Anthropology Theory

Peer-Reviewed Articles

“If a Rabbi Did Say ‘You Have to Vaccinate,’ We Wouldn’t”: Unveiling the Secular Logics of Religious Exemption and Opposition to Vaccination

Social Science & Medicine 2021

“A Free People, Controlled Only By God”: Circulating and Converting Criticism of Vaccination in Jerusalem

Culture, Medicine & Psychiatry 2021

SARS-CoV-2 Seroprevalence in a Strictly-Orthodox Jewish Community in the UK: A Retrospective Cohort Study

Lancet Regional Health – Europe 2021
Co-authored with Kate Gaskell et al.

Vaccines and Vitriol: An Anthropological Commentary on Vaccine Hesitancy, Decision-Making and Interventionism among Religious Minorities

Anthropology & Medicine 2020

“I Didn’t Know How to be With My Husband”: State-Religion Struggles over Sex Education in Israel and England

Anthropology & Education Quarterly 2020
Co-authored with Lea Taragin-Zeller

Arbitrating Abortion: Sex-Selection and Care Work among Abortion Providers in England

Medical Anthropology 2020
Co-authored with Maya Unnithan

Sniff and Tell: The Feasibility of using Bio-Detection Dogs as a Mobile Diagnostic Intervention for Asymptomatic Malaria 

Journal of Biosocial Science 2019

Co-authored with Kate Hampshire et al.

Reproductive Rebellions in Britain and the Republic of Ireland: Contemporary and Past Abortion Activism and Alternative Sites of Care

Feminist Encounters 2018
Co-authored with Sarah Crook

Positioning Oneself and being Positioned in the ‘Community’: An Essay on Jewish Ethnography as a ‘Jew-ish’ Ethnographer

2016 Scripta Instituti Donneriani Aboensis: special issue on Jewish Studies in the Nordic Countries Today

Tokens of Trauma: The Aging Experience of Shoah Survivors in a Jewish Support Center

2015 Anthropology & Aging

The Taste of Trauma: Reflections of Ageing Shoah Survivors on Food and how they (re)inscribe it with Meaning

2015 Scripta Instituti Donneriani Aboensis: Special issue on Religion and Food

Discovery and Validation of Urinary Metabotypes for the Diagnosis of Hepatocellular Carcinoma in West Africans

2014 Hepatology
Co-authored with Nimzing Ladep et al.

Book Chapters

Haredi (Material) Cultures of Health at the ‘Hard to Reach’ Margins of the State

Bloomsbury 2017
Edited by Timothy Carroll, David Jeevendrampillai, Aaron Parkhurst and Julie Shackelford

‘Some of the best contributions have to do with health, identity, and religious beliefs under conditions of globalisation … Kasstan’s fascinating exploration of the Haredi Jewish community exposes its negotiation and contestation of the treatment and transportation of the sick and of human bodies’ – Journal of Anthropological Research

Book Reviews

Review | Anti/Vax: Reframing the Vaccination Controversy, by Bernice Hausman
Sociology of Health & Illness 2020

Review | Chronic Illness in a Pakistani Labour Diaspora, by Kaveri Qureshi
Sociology of Health & Illness 2019

Review | Testing Fate: Tay Sachs Disease and the Right to be Responsible, by Shelley Z. Reuter
Medical Anthropology Quarterly 2017

Review | Ethnographies of Breastfeeding: Cultural Contexts and Confrontations, edited by Tanya Cassidy and Abdullahi El Tom
Somatosphere 2015

Review | Improvising Medicine: An African Oncology Ward in an Emerging Cancer Epidemic, by Julie Livingston
BMJ Medical Humanities 2014