Kaja Skoftedalen


PhD Candidate, Centre for International Health



The PhD project is titled Caring in Context: Exploring Landscapes of Care, trust and social healing in Southeastern Tanzania. It explores the cultural and social dynamics of care and how trust and mistrust enfold in women’s health-seeking encounters. I intend to explore what is perceived as good health and good care and how women and their families use complementary care practices to shape the health of women and their children. Through an anthropological approach with long-term fieldwork and engagement with adult women and men of all ages, I will seek to learn about maternal health in a broad sense, that is, how it is interconnected with multiple aspects of everyday life, such as moral economies, kinship, class, and gender. By approaching biomedical healthcare offered at health facilities, the everyday healthcare practices within families, and healthcare provided by certified and uncertified ‘traditional healers’, I will study the links between maternal health, care, spirituality, and trust/mistrust. Seeing medical pluralism as a social phenomenon that is a feature of every medical system, this project seeks to understand the role of trust in how people manoeuvre different yet highly interconnected medical systems.

This PhD project is based on 14 months of long-term anthropological fieldwork in 2023 and 2024. The fieldwork used an ethnographic approach involving participant observation, unstructured interviews, spontaneous focus groups, and semi-structured in-depth interviews.

My PhD is part of the interdisciplinary NFR project Reporting in context: An interdisciplinary initiative to strengthen maternal health services and surveillance in Ethiopia and Tanzania (MATRISET), headed by Astrid Blystad. The MATRISET project is a collaboration between the University of Bergen, the University of Dar es Salaam, the Muhimbili University of Health and Applied Sciences, Addis Ababa University, and the University of Sussex.



  • Spring 2021: SANT260 (Bachelor's essay)


  • Autumn 2020: guest lecturer in SANT150
  • Autumn 2018: mini lecture in SANT105

Teaching assistant

  • Autumn 2021: SANT150
  • Autumn 2020: SANT150
  • Spring 2020: SANT102 and SANT215
  • Autumn 2019: SANT104 and SANT100
  • Spring 2019: SANT103 and SANT215
  • Autumn 2018: SANT100 and SANT105