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Short Biographic Notes Annemiek (J.M.) Richters

Annemiek Richters (1945) studied medicine at the Free University of Amsterdam. As a medical student she did electives in Lebanon, Sri Lanka and Indonesia. After her final MD exams (1973) she first worked in general practices in the Netherlands, then specialized in Tropical Medicine and worked as a physician in the Netherlands and Barbados (West Indies) in different fields of medicine (general practice, surgery, pediatrics, gynecology/obstetrics, first aid medicine, mother and child care). Her experiences in health care practices at home and abroad convinced her that complementary knowledge was necessary in order to be able to understand patients in their socio-cultural contexts. She finished doctoral studies in cultural anthropology (1983), sociology (1986) and philosophy (1989) (all with honors) at the University of Amsterdam. During those studies she was appointed at the Faculty of Social and Cultural Studies of the University of Amsterdam as respectively lecturer in applied sociology (Health and Development Program), critical and theoretical anthropology, and medical anthropology (Women, Culture and Health Program).

These studies and lectureships were interrupted by medical work in various settings in the Netherlands, by medical anthropological fieldwork in Barbados, Kenya and Malawi, and by post-doctoral studies (1985-1987) at the University of California (San Francisco/Berkeley campus), and Harvard University (Boston/Cambridge), respectively at the Women, Health & Healing Program and the Departments of Social Medicine and Cultural Anthropology.

From 1986-1991 she taught medical philosophy and worked on a research project `women, culture and depression' for the Department of Philosophy and Medical Ethics of the Faculty of Medicine of the Free University of Amsterdam. In the same period she also prepared her Ph.D. thesis ‘The medical anthropologist as narrator and translator - With Hermes on a journey in the land of the idols’ (published in Dutch). This thesis was presented to the Faculty on 6 December 6 1991 and accepted with honors.

From 1993-1995 she was research fellow at the Women and Autonomy Centre (VENA) of the Faculty of Social and Cultural Sciences of Leiden University. Her assignment `women and violence' resulted in March 1994 in her book ‘Women, culture and violence: A development, health and human rights issue’.

In May 1993 she did a pilot study of psycho-social needs in Kakuma Refugee Camp, Kenya for IPSER (International Institute for Psycho-Social and Socio-Ecological Research). At the request of Doctors without Borders (MSF), she developed, coordinated and supervised a mental health program for the victims of war in Sarajevo, Bosnia-Herzegovina (March-November 1994).

From July 1995 to November 2000 she worked part-time as professor of `women and health care’ at the Leiden University Medical Center (LUMC). November 2000 this position was changed into a (part-time) professorship in `culture, health and illness’ at the same Center. She retired in February 2010 but is now affiliated as a researcher and lecturer with the LUMC, Department of Public Health and Primary Care and with the Amsterdam Institute for Social Science Research (AISSR) of the University of Amsterdam.

She was a member of the Netherlands Development Assistance Research Council (RAWOO) for a period of six years. In 1998 she worked as consultant for the Netherlands Institute for Southern Africa in the project `Reclaiming humanity: Breaking through gender violence in conflict torn societies' and in 1999 and 2000 for the World Health Organization (Copenhagen) in a research project on the public health aspects of violence against women in Tajikistan. Complementary to this work, she did a few consultancies for the Swiss Development Cooperation (SDC) regarding a follow-up project on violence against women in Tajikistan.

Annemiek Richters published extensively in national and international scientific journals on a wide range of topics, ranging from essays on Habermas and critical theory, voodoo-death in the Netherlands to sexual violence in socio-cultural context. She has been on the editorial board of several scientific journals, and has acted as guest-lecturer and keynote speaker on many occasions. She has been a member of a number of organizations, advisory boards, etc., which focus on issues in the field of medicine, society, gender, and violence.

Some of the issues that were the focus of her work since the nineties were: `gender, culture, violence, trauma, health and healing', `the quality of reproductive health care for black, migrant and refugee women in the Netherlands', `the cultural comparison of medicine and women's body politics in the context of globalization', ‘gender, violence, trauma and human rights’. Her PhD students work(ed) on these and related topics. Ten students completed their PhD projects successfully and six more are working towards completing their projects.

In 2008 she was research fellow at the Netherlands Institute for Advanced Studies in the Humanities and Social Sciences (NIAS) for a period of five months. She has been affiliated as researcher with the Amsterdam Institute for Social (science) Research (AISSR) of the University of Amsterdam from 2005 onwards as a member of the research cluster health, care and the body, and as lecturer with the Amsterdam Master of Medical Anthropology. In both institutes many international students participate.

In 2008 she received the Corrie Hermann Award from the Dutch Association of Women Doctors for her academic and activist work, promoting gender and ethnicity-related equity in health care. In 2010 she received a Royal Award (Officer in the Order of Oranje Nassau) for her work in the field of health care and education, in particular for women, and in the area of development cooperation, in particular the care for victims of war.

She was Dutch consultant for the SANPAD (South African Netherlands Research Programme on Alternatives in Development) project: Assessing the limits and strengths of psychosocial assistance offered to forced migrants in Southern Africa (2007-2012), and is consultant for the SANPAD project Life orientation sexuality programs and normative gender narratives, practices and power relations (2010-2014).

Since 2004 she has been involved in sociotherapy programs in Rwanda as consultant and researcher, which resulted in various publications on these programs. In the context of her Rwanda work she visited the DRC various times, resulting in an appointment as a member of the board of the Institute of Higher Education in Mental Health (Institution de l’Education Supérieur en Santé Mental (ISSM), Goma, Congo. The next few years she will concentrate on research and capacity building in the context of the new program nationwide Community-based sociotherapy in Post-Gacaca Rwanda, which after a few months of preparation will officially start 1 January 2014.