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Ben is a medical anthropologist and Vice Chancellor's Fellow based in the Centre for Health, Law & Society and the Law School. Ben's research explores how public health causes the state and minorities to encounter each other, and different ideas of protection to be negotiated. Critiquing the multiple meanings of protection has enabled Ben to offer theoretical and applied contributions to global public health policy and scholarship – specifically regarding sexual, reproductive and child health (vaccines). His research has been published in discipline leading journals, including Social Science & Medicine, Medical Anthropology Quarterly, and The Lancet (Europe). Since 2019 Ben has served as an Associate Editor at Anthropology & Medicine Journal, and recently joined the Editorial Board of Humanities & Social Sciences Communications (Nature).
The specific global public health issues that Ben examines include sexuality education, abortion care and advocacy, quality maternity care, contraception, childhood vaccinations, public health relations with minority groups, and innovative health interventions (malaria). The fieldsites that Ben has worked in include England, Ireland, Jerusalem, Lesotho, Nigeria and The Gambia.
As Vice Chancellor's Fellow at Bristol, Ben is examining how sexuality education is raising claims of a clash between different rights and ideas of health protection (e.g. sexual and reproductive rights, religious rights, parental rights, and rights to knowledge). This issue has become increasingly apparent amidst proposed changes to the teaching of sexual and relationships education (RSE), and Ben is exploring how new requirements around the teaching of RSE is being navigated among self-protective religious minority groups in Britain.
Previously Ben was appointed at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem (2019-20) where he was critiquing claims of 'religious opposition' to vaccination amidst international measles outbreaks. Ben's clear contribution to the social study of vaccination has been investigating public claims of 'religious beliefs' or 'religious opposition' to vaccination, and illustrating how parents in religious minorities actually make decisions about childhood vaccines. His research has been cited in WHO COVID-19 implementation guidance and acknowledged in parliamentary reports, and he has been commissioned to conduct expert reviews of vaccine policy for the UK Parliamentary Office of Science & Technology.
At the University of Sussex (2017-19), Ben worked as part of an interdisciplinary project on son preference leading to sex-selective abortion. Ben's PhD was funded by the Wellcome Trust (2013-2016) and completed at Durham's Department of Anthropology. The research explored healthcare as a unique borderland where religious minorities and the UK state negotiate each other's positions, with areas of biomedicine raising concerns around integration, assimilation and self-protection for Haredi Jews. The book was recently published by Berghahn Books as an open access monograph, Making Bodies Kosher.
Ben is committed to using research evidence to inform public debates, policy and advocacy. He has recently discussed issues around COVID-19 in Ha'aretz and the BBC World Service, and abortion legislation in Newsweek. He has submitted research evidence to the Women & Equalities Committee, APPG on Vaccinations for All, APPG on Population, Development & Reproductive Health, APPG on Sexual & Reproductive Health, and the APPG on Social Integration.
Affiliate, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem
1 Oct 2020 → 31 Oct 2022
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- LAW Centre for Health Law and Society
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Kasstan, B., 17 Jan 2022, In: Medical Anthropology Quarterly. 20 p.
Research output: Contribution to journal › Article (Academic Journal) › peer-reviewOpen AccessFile
‘I don’t know anybody who said, “oh great, let’s get measles”’: a qualitative study of responses to childhood vaccinations (MMRV) among Orthodox Jews in Jerusalem following the 2018-19 measles outbreaksKasstan, B., 5 Jan 2022, In: medRxiv.
Research output: Contribution to journal › Article (Academic Journal)
Localising Vaccination Services: Qualitative Insights on an Orthodox Jewish Collaboration with Public health during the UK coronavirus Vaccine ProgrammeKasstan, B., Mounier-Jack, S., Letley, L., Gaskell, K. M., Roberts, C. H., Stone, N., Lal, S., Eggo, R. M., Marks, M. & Chantler, T., 15 Sep 2021, (medRxiv).
Research output: Working paper › PreprintOpen Access