Thandeka Dlamini-Simelane

SMU-George W. Bush Institute Postdoctoral Fellow



Thandeka is a critical medical anthropologist from Eswatini. Her PhD with a focus on critical global health was attained from the University of Amsterdam, the Netherlands. She studies globally derived public health programs and entities, how they travel across space and time, what happens during the process of travel (adaptation and implementation) and the imprints these leave on locales (which is the public healthcare system). She considers herself an activist anthropologist for health justice, focusing on harm that occurs if healthcare is implemented without consideration of the local contexts (socio-cultural) of disease and partnership with the patient in the therapeutic journey. At a local scale, she is particularly interested in providing insights and training to health providers regarding the importance of the involvement of indigenous/underprivileged societies in the therapy management group. She is increasingly partnering with transnational structures that are watchdogs and proponents for universal health access to ensure under-served populations access to quality healthcare.


Coming from the global South in a country that is extremely under-resourced, and anthropology training is not offered in-country. Being aware of the valuable insight that medical anthropology offers, she is on a quest to ensure that in the future medical anthropology training is available in-country; health workers apply medical anthropology competence as they provide care and citizens benefit from a humanistic centered healthcare system.

She is currently a post doc researcher at Southern Methodist University, Dallas Texas. She works in a collaborative project between the Department of History and Centre for Presidential History (George W. Bush), that is documenting the oral history of PEPFAR from inception to date. This opportunity offers her an opportunity to understand how aid is decided and how it travels from the White House in paper form to pragmatic form in various parts of the world and how it shapes the experiences in host countries, both in the health system, that of the health workers and the patients.