Dr Melania Calestani


I am an anthropologist with postdoctoral experience in health services research and social sciences. My main teaching and research interests are in qualitative/ethnographic research methods and medical anthropology. I am a Fellow of the Higher Education Academy and the department lead for research. 

I teach on undergraduate/postgraduate degrees in Midwifery and on the Doctor of Education Programme. I am module leader for Social and Political Context of Birth 2 (2nd year Midwifery) and Knowledge and Practice in Educational Settings (Doctor of Education programme). I also lead the Ways of Knowing thread, which is integrated into all modules to ensure the assimilation of research knowledge and its application to clinical practice. I have been supervising PhD students and Master students (mainly MRes in Clin Research and MSc in Global Health at St George's University) researching different topics. 

I mainly carried out fieldwork in Andean Bolivia and in the UK. In Bolivia, I looked at ethnomedical beliefs and access to different forms of health care according to religious affiliation/ethnicity. In the UK, I carried out ethnographic research on processes of decision-making in the NHS, both from the perspective of patients and healthcare professionals.

Academic responsibilities

Senior Lecturer (Department Lead for Research) Medical Anthropologist


  • PgCert, Learning and Teaching in Higher Education, Kingston University
  • PhD, Anthropology, Goldsmiths (University of London)
  • MRes, Anthropology, Goldsmiths (University of London)
  • MSc, Anthropology and Ecology of Development, UCL (University of London)
  • MSc (3 years + 1) , Geography, University of Genoa (Italy)

Teaching and learning

I teach on undergraduate/postgraduate degrees in Midwifery and on the EdD (Doctor of Education) programme. 


Module leader:

-Social and Political Context of Birth 2 (2nd year Midwifery).

-Ways of Knowing Threat (1st, 2nd and 3rd year Midwifery). 

-Knowledge and Practice in Educational Settings (Doctor of Education Programme).

Contribute to:

-Social and Political Context of Birth 1 (1st year Midwifery). 

-Social and Political Context of Birth 3 (3rd year Midwifery).

Qualifications and expertise

  • Fellow of the Higher Education Academy
  • PgCert, Learning and Teaching in Higher Education, Kingston University

Undergraduate courses taught

Postgraduate courses taught


My work in Bolivia for my PhD (2009) in anthropology has focused on individual and collective definitions of 'the good life', exploring religious and medical pluralism among Aymara people. In the UK, I carried out research on processes of decision-making and patient-centred care in the NHS. Most recently, I have conducted critical ethnographic research on spiritual care in hospitals, examining how practices of prayer can be transgressive, affecting power relations and experiences of inclusion/exclusion. My research interests also include critical understandings of race and ethnicity, health inequalities and perspectives from critical medical anthropology. 

Recent Research Grants

2021 - 2022 Women and birthing people's Experiences of Induction of Labour (CAHSCR First Grant Scheme, Collaborators: Dr Kirstie Coxon and Dr Chao Wang)


2017 Jim Lewis Prize for the most innovative article in the journal European Urban and Regional Studies: Gregson, N., Crang, M., Botticello, J., Calestani, M. and Krzywoszynska, A. "Doing the 'dirty work' of the green economy: Resource recovery and migrant labour in the EU" in  European Urban and Regional Studies 23.4 (2016): 541-555.

2010 Ashby Prize for the most innovative article in the journal Environment and Planning A: Gregson, N., Watkins, H. and Calestani, M. ‘Inextinguishable Fibres: Demolition and the Vital Materialism of Asbestos' in Environment and Planning A, 2010, Volume 42 (5), pages: 1065-1083.

2009 Best dissertation award granted by the International Society for Quality-of-Life Studies (ISQOLS)  https://isqols.org/dissertationaward PhD Thesis with fieldwork in Bolivia 

Research student supervision

Main supervision

Other supervision


Number of items: 46.


Montesi, Laura, Calestani, Melania and Ortega Zavala, Nadia (2023) Experiencias y significación de la pandemia de Covid-19 en población indígena en situación de vulnerabilidad estructural : un estudio cualitativo en el estado de Oaxaca. Región y sociedad, ISSN (online) 2448-4849 (In Press)

Clark, Teresa, Lewko, Agnieszka and Calestani, Melania (2023) The circular paradox of including people with severe brain injuries and reduced decisional capacity in research : a feasibility study exploring randomised research, consent-based recruitment biases, and the resultant health inequities. Physiotherapy Theory and Practice, ISSN (print) 0959-3985 (Epub Ahead of Print)

Calestani, Melania, Roderick, Paul, Tonkin-Crine, Sarah, Pruthi, Rishi, Ravanan, Rommel and Leydon, Geraldine M. (2023) Managing uncertainty in multidisciplinary renal team meetings : decision-making processes and complex challenges in kidney transplant listing. Health, Risk & Society, ISSN (print) 1369-8575 (Epub Ahead of Print)

Calestani, Melania (2023) Toxic legacies and health inequalities of the Anthropocene : perspectives from the margins. Medicine Anthropology Theory, 10(2), ISSN (online) 2405-691X

Robinson, Anna, Coxon, Kirstie, McRae, Jackie and Calestani, Melania (2022) Family carers’ experiences of dysphagia after a stroke : an exploratory study of spouses living in a large metropolitan city. International Journal of Language and Communication Disorders, ISSN (print) 1368-2822 (Epub Ahead of Print)

Goodman, Anthony and Calestani, Melania (2022) Supporting girls and young women victims of sexual harassment in schools : "me and you and everyone we know". Safer Communities, 21(1), pp. 1-18. ISSN (print) 1757-8043

Artaraz, Kepa, Calestani, Melania and Trueba, Mei (2021) Introduction. Vivir bien / Buen vivir and post-neoliberal development paths in Latin America : scope, strategies and the realities of implementation. Latin American Perspectives, 48(3), pp. 4-16. ISSN (print) 0094-582X

Drennan, Vari M, Calestani, Melania, Taylor, Francesca, Halter, Mary and Levenson, Ros (2020) Perceived impact on efficiency and safety of experienced American physician assistants / associates in acute hospital care in England : findings from a multi-site case organisational study. JRSM Open, 11(10), ISSN (online) 2054-2704

Taylor, Francesca, Drennan, Vari M, Halter, Mary and Calestani, Melania (2020) Integration and retention of American physician assistants/associates working in English hospitals : a qualitative study. Health Policy, 124(5), pp. 525-530. ISSN (print) 0168-8510

Calestani, Melania [Reviewer] (2019) Book Review of : 'The quest for the good life in precarious times : ethnographic perspectives in the domestic moral economy' edited by Chris Gregory and Jon Altman. The Asia Pacific Journal of Anthropology, 20(1), pp. 105-107. ISSN (print) 1444-2213

Jax, Kurt, Calestani, Melania, Chan, Kai M.A., Eser, Uta, Keune, Hans, Muraca, Barbara, O'Brien, Liz, Potthast, Thomas, Voget-Kleschin, Lieske and Wittmer, Heidi (2018) Caring for nature matters : a relational approach for understanding nature's contributions to human well-being. Current Opinion in Environmental Sustainability, 35, pp. 22-29. ISSN (print) 1877-3435

Drennan, Vari, Ross, Fiona, Calestani, Melania, Saunders, Mary and West, Peter (2018) Learning from an early pilot of the Dutch Buurtzorg model of district nursing in England. Primary Health Care, 28(6), pp. 23-25. ISSN (print) 0264-5033

Pruthi, Rishi, Tonkin-Crine, Sarah, Calestani, Melania, Leydon, Geraldine, Eyles, Caroline, Oniscu, Gabriel C., Tomson, Charles, Bradley, Andrew, Forsythe, John L., Bradley, Clare, Cairns, John, Dudley, Christopher, Watson, Christopher, Draper, Heather, Johnson, Rachel, Metcalfe, Wendy, Fogarty, Damian, Ravanan, Rommel and Roderick, Paul J. (2018) Variation in practice patterns for listing patients for renal transplantation in the United Kingdom : a national survey. Transplantation, 102(6), pp. 961-968. ISSN (print) 0041-1337

Drennan, Vari M, Calestani, Melania, Ross, Fiona, Saunders, Mary and West, Peter (2018) Tackling the workforce crisis in district nursing : can the Dutch Buurtzorg model offer a solution and a better patient experience? A mixed methods case study. BMJ Open, 8(6), e021931. ISSN (online) 2044-6055

Tonkin-Crine, Sarah, Pruthi, Rishi, Taylor, Dominic M., Leydon, Geraldine M., Calestani, Melania, Oniscu, Gabriel C., Bradley, J. Andrew, Tomson, Charles R., Bradley, Claire, Dudley, Christopher, Watson, Christopher J.E., Draper, Heather, Johnson, Rachel J., Metcalfe, Wendy, Fogarty, Damian G., Ravanan, Rommel and Roderick, Paul (2018) Assessing consensus between UK renal clinicians on listing for kidney transplantation : a modified Delphi Study. Transplantation Direct, 4(5), e343. ISSN (online) 2373-8731

Calestani, Melania [Reviewer] (2017) Book Review of: 'Gender, globalisation, and health in a Latin America context' by Jasmine Gideon. Bulletin of Latin American Research, 36(2), pp. 266-267. ISSN (print) 0261-3050

Gregson, Nicky, Crang, Mike, Botticello, Julie, Calestani, Melania and Krzywoszynska, Anna (2016) Doing the 'dirty work' of the green economy: resource recovery and migrant labour in the EU. European Urban and Regional Studies, 23(4), pp. 541-555. ISSN (print) 0969-7764

Artaraz, Kepa and Calestani, Melania (2015) Suma qamana in Bolivia: indigenous understandings of well-being and their contribution to a post-neoliberal paradigm. Latin American Perspectives, 42(5), pp. 216-233. ISSN (print) 0094-582X

Calestani, Melania, Tonkin-Crine, Sarah, Pruthi, Rishi, Leydon, Geraldine, Ravanan, Rommel, Bradley, J. Andrew, Tomson, Charles R., Forsythe, John L., Oniscu, Gabriel C., Bradley, Clare, Cairns, John, Dudley, Christopher, Watson, Christopher, Draper, Heather, Johnson, Rachel J., Metcalfe, Wendy, Fogarty, Damian G. and Roderick, Paul (2014) Patient attitudes towards kidney transplant listing : qualitative findings from the ATTOM study. Nephrology Dialysis Transplantation, 29(11), pp. 2144-2150. ISSN (print) 0931-0509

Calestani, Melania (2013) Book Review: Evo Morales and the Movimiento al Socialismo in Bolivia - edited by Pearce, Adrian J. Bulletin of Latin American Research, 32(4), pp. 512-513. ISSN (print) 0261-3050

Artaraz, Kepa and Calestani, Melania (2013) Vivir bien, entre utopía y realidad [Living well, between utopia and reality]. Tabula Rasa, 18, pp. 105-123. ISSN (online) 1794-2489

Pope, Catherine, Halford, Susan, Turnbull, Joanne, Prichard, Jane S., Calestani, Melania and May, Carl (2013) Using computer decision support systems in NHS emergency and urgent care: ethnographic study using normalisation process theory. BMC Health Services Research, 13(111), pp. 1-13. ISSN (online) 1472-6963

Gregson, Nicky, Watkins, Helen and Calestani, Melania (2013) Political markets: recycling, economization and marketization. Economy and Society, 42(1), pp. 1-25. ISSN (print) 0308-5147

Calestani, Melania (2012) Being 'an authentic alteño': young people in a Bolivian Andean city. Journal of Youth Studies, 15(4), pp. 541-555. ISSN (print) 1367-6261

Gregson, Nicky, Watkins, Helen and Calestani, Melania (2010) Inextinguishable fibres: demolition and the vital materialism of asbestos. Environment and Planning A, 42(5), pp. 1065-1083. ISSN (print) 0308-518X

Calestani, Melania (2009) 'Suerte' (Luck): spirituality and well-being in El Alto, Bolivia. Applied Research in Quality of Life, 4(1), pp. 47-75. ISSN (print) 1871-2584

Calestani, Melania (2009) An anthropology of 'The Good Life' in the Bolivian Plateau. Social Indicators Research, 90(1), pp. 141-153. ISSN (print) 0303-8300

Calestani, Melania (2009) Book Review: Sian Lazar, El Alto, Rebel City: Self and Citizenship in Andean Bolivia. London: Duke University Press, 2008. Critique of Anthropology, 29(4), pp. 471-472. ISSN (print) 0308-275X

Calestani, Melania (2009) Book review: Alberto Corsín Jiménez (ed.), Culture and Well-being: Anthropological Approaches to Freedom and Political Ethics. London: Pluto Press, 2008. Critique of Anthropology, 29(1), pp. 125-126. ISSN (print) 0308-275X

Calestani, Melania, Kyriakakis, Ioannis and Tassi, Nico (2007) Three narratives of anthropological engagement. Anthropology Matters, 9(2), ISSN (print) 1758-6453


Montesi, Laura and Calestani, Melania, eds. (2021) Managing chronicity in unequal states : ethnographic perspectives on caring. London, U.K. : UCL Press. 275p. (Embodying Inequalities: Perspectives from Medical Anthropology) ISBN 9781800080287

Artaraz, Kepa , Calestani, Melania and Trueba, Mei, eds. (2021) Vivir bien/Buen vivir and post-neoliberal development paths in Latin America : scope, strategies, and the realities of implementation. SAGE Publications. (Latin American Perspectives, 48(3)) ISSN (print) 0094-582X

Reimer-Kirkham, Sheryl, Sharma, Sonya, Brown, Rachel and Calestani, Melania (2020) Prayer as transgression? The social relations of prayer in healthcare settings. Montreal, Quebec : McGill-Queen's University Press. 240p. (Advancing Studies in Religion, 9) ISBN 9780228001645

Madge, Nicola, Hemming, Peter J., Stenson, Kevin, Allum, Nick [Contributor], Calestani, Melania [Contributor], Goodman, Anthony [Contributor], King, Katherine [Contributor], Kingston, Sarah [Contributor] and Webster, Colin [Contributor] (2013) Youth on religion : the development, negotiation and impact of faith and non-faith identity. London, U.K. : Routledge. 240p. ISBN 9780415696708

Calestani, Melania (2013) An anthropological journey into well-being: insights from Bolivia. Dordrecht, Netherlands : Springer Netherlands. 96p. (SpringerBriefs in Well-Being and Quality of Life Research) ISSN (print) 2211-7644 ISBN 9789400756687

Book Section

Gamlin, Jennie, Gibbon, Sahra and Calestani, Melania (2021) The biopolitics of COVID-19 in the UK : racism, nationalism and the afterlife of colonialism. In: Manderson, Lenore , Burke, Nancy J. and Wahlberg, Ayo, (eds.) Viral Loads : anthropologies of urgency in the time of COVID-19. London, U.K. : UCL Press. pp. 108-127. ISBN 9781800080256

Calestani, Melania and Montesi, Laura (2020) The ethno-racial basis of chronic diseases : rethinking race and ethnicity from a critical epidemiological perspective. In: Gamlin, Jennie , Gibbon, Sahra , Sesia, Paola and Berrio, Lina, (eds.) Critical medical anthropology : perspectives in and from Latin America. London, U.K. : UCL Press. pp. 170-192. (Embodying inequalities : perspectives from medical anthropology) ISBN 9781787355828

Calestani, Melania (2018) Mario Lodi’s educational approach : is this relevant for anthropology in the twenty-first century? In: Paganopoulos, Michelangelo, (ed.) In-between fiction and non-fiction: reflections on the poetics of ethnography in literature and film. Newcastle, U.K. : Cambridge Scholars. pp. 130-143. ISBN 9781527508330

Calestani, Melania (2014) Spirituality, luck and well-being. In: Michalos, Alex C., (ed.) Encyclopedia of quality of life and well-being research. Dordrecht, Netherlands : Springer Reference. pp. 6285-6289. ISBN 9789400707528

Calestani, Melania (2012) Wellbeing in El Alto, Bolivia. In: Atkinson, Sarah , Fuller, Sarah and Painter, Joe, (eds.) Wellbeing and place. Farnham, U.K. : Ashgate. pp. 171-183. ISSN (print) 9781409420606

Calestani, Melania, White, Nereda, Hendricks, Auntie Joan and Scemons, Donna (2012) Religions of native peoples and nursing. In: Fowler, Marsha D. , Reimer-Kirkham, Sheryl , Sawatzky, Richard and Johnston-Taylor, Elizabeth, (eds.) Religion, religious ethics, and nursing. New York, U.S.A. : Springer. pp. 267-294. ISBN 9780826106636

Conference or Workshop Item

Buckley, Aga, Calestani, Melania and Curtis, Katherine (2023) When Heidegger meets Freire. In: JSWEC 2023: Social Work Education, Research and Practice in Turbulent Times; 15-16 Jun 2023, Glasgow, U.K..


Drennan, VM, Calestani, M and Littlejohns, P (2017) South London Community Education Provider Networks : evaluation report. (Project Report) London, U.K. : Faculty of Health, Social Care and Education, Kingston University and St George's, University of London. 12 p. ISBN 9780995741300 (Unpublished)

Pope, Catherine, Turnbull, Joanne, Halford, Susan, Prichard, Jane, Calestani, Melania, Salisbury, Chris, May, Carl, Barrett, Christine and Lattimer, Valerie (2011) Ethnography and survey analysis of a computer decision support system in urgent out-of-hours, single point of access and emergency (999) care. (Project Report) London, U.K. : National Institute for Health Research. 188 p.

Sound Recording

Scott, Alex [Interviewer], Artaraz, Kepa [Interviewee] and Calestani, Melania [Interviewee] (2021) Post-neoliberal development paths in Latin America. (podcast). SAGE Publications. (60 min) (Sage Political Science & International Relations)


Calestani, Melania (2009) An anthropology of well-being: Local perspectives and cultural constructions in the Bolivian Altiplano. (PhD thesis), Goldsmiths College, University of London, .

This list was generated on Sun Sep 24 07:18:47 2023 BST.

Social media

Academia LinkedIn