AG Medical Anthropology

Selim, Nasima


Nasima Selim is a PhD candidate at the Institute of Social and Cultural Anthropology, Freie Universität Berlin. Since 2011 she works as Senior Lecturer at the James P Grant School of Public Health, BRAC University Bangladesh. Nasima studied medicine and public health in Bangladesh (SSMC and BRAC University) between 2000-2006, interdisciplinary social sciences in India (Centre for Studies in Social Sciences, CSSSCAL) between 2007-2008 and completed a Master’s in Medical Anthropology (AMMA) at the University of Amsterdam in 2010. Dr Selim worked as Assistant Registrar in Pabna Mental Hospital, National Institute of Mental Health Project and as Senior Medical Officer at Monon Psychiatric Hospital before joining BRAC University as a research associate in 2007.

Dr. Selim teaches anthropological approaches to public health, qualitative research methods, mental health leadership and scientific writing at BRAC University and mixed method at the Institute of Public Health, University of Heidelberg. She was co-investigator in three completed mixed-method, multi-country research projects: (1) “Health Professional Education Situation Analysis of Bangladesh” (2012); (2) „Violence against marginalized women in Bangladesh“ (2010); and, (3) „Globalization as a social determinant of health: Influences on patterns of food consumption among young people in Asian Universities“(2009). Nasima Selim’s master’s dissertation based on a focused ethnography in Amsterdam titled, “Doing Body, Doing Mind, Doing Self: Vipassana Meditation in Everyday Life”. Her current doctoral project is an ethnography of Sufi healing practices in Berlin.

Dr. Selim is a student member of the EASA network (European Association of Social Anthropologists) as well as the AG Medical Anthropology. She is a lifetime member of the Public Health Association of Bangladesh and an associate member of the Bangladesh Psychiatric Association.


Research Interests

Self-care and well-being practices; religious/spiritual healing; complementary and alternative medicine; anthropological approaches to public health; mental health; mixed methods


Research Area(s)

Western Europe (Germany, the Netherlands); South Asia (Bangladesh)



Monographs and Edited Volumes

2010. Ed. together with Sjaak van der Geest and Shahaduz Zaman: “Daily Health Concerns in Kakabo: Anthropological Explorations in a Bangladeshi Village”. Dhaka: James P Grant School of Public Health, BRAC University.


Journal Articles (peer-reviewed)

2014. Together with Tanvir Hasan, Tisa Muhaddes, Suborna Camellia and Sabina Faiz Rashid: “Prevalence and Experiences of Intimate Partner Violence against Women with Disabilities in Bangladesh: Results of an Explanatory Sequential Mixed Method Study”. In: Journal of Interpersonal Violence 29(17): 3105–3126.

2013. Together with Shahaduz Zaman and Taufique Joarder: “Mcdonaldization without a McDonald’s: Globalization and Food Culture as Social Determinants of Health in Urban Bangladesh”. In: Food, Culture and Society: An international journal of multidisciplinary research 16 (4): 551-568.

2012. Together with Sabina Faiz Rashid. Editorial. “Community health concerns: Qualitative research in rural Bangladesh.” BRAC University Journal Special Issue.

2011a. Together with Anne Mann, Annemarie Mol, Priya Satalkar, Amalinda Savirani, Malini Sur and Emily Yates-Doerr: “Mixing methods, tasting fingers: Notes on an
ethnographic experiment”. In: HAU Journal of Ethnographic Theory 1 (1): 221-243.

2011b. Together with Sophie Goudet, Paula Griffiths and Barry Bogin: ”Impact of flooding on Feeding Practices of Infants and Young Children in Dhaka, Bangladesh Slums: What are the Coping Strategies?” In: Maternal & Child Nutrition, 7 (2):198-214.

2010a. “An extraordinary truth? The Adam suicide notes from Bangladesh”. In: Mental Health, Religion & Culture 13 (3): 223-244.

2010b. “Cultural dimensions of depressive episode: A qualitative study in two villages of Matlab”. In: Journal of Population, Health & Nutrition 28 (1): 95-106.

2008. Together with Priya Satalkar: “Perceptions of mental illness in a Bangladeshi village”. BRAC University Journal 5 (1): 45-55. Available at:


Chapters in Edited Books

2015. “Sufi body practices and therapeutic politics in Berlin”. In: Klinkhammer, Gritt and Eva Tolksdorf (eds.): Somatisierung des Religiösen. Interdisziplinäre Perspektiven auf den rezenten religiösen Heilungs- und Therapiemarkt. [Somatisation of Religions. Interdisciplinary Perspectives of the recent religious healing and therapy marketplace.] University Bremen: Veröffentlichungen des Instituts für Religionswissenschaft und -pädagogik, Band 7. (In Print)

2014. “What does sitting have to do with the self? Body techniques, personhood and well-being in Vipassana meditation”. In: Van der Geest, Sjaak, Gerrits, Trudie and Julia Challinor (eds.): Medical Anthropology: Essays and Reflections from an Amsterdam Graduate Programme. Health, Culture and Society: Studies in Medical Anthropology and Sociology Series. Diemen: AMB Publishers, 265-282.

2011. “Friendship (and healing) in the ‘intersubjectivity of silence’: A case illustration”. In: Tankink, Marian and Marianne Vysma (Eds.): Roads and Boundaries: Travels in search of (re-)connection. Diemen, the Netherlands: AMB Publishers, 195-206.


2014. Book Review of: “Patients and Agents: Mental Illness, Modernity and Islam in Sylhet, Bangladesh” by Alyson Callan. New York and Oxford: Berghahn Books, 2012. In:
Medicine Anthropology Theory 1 (1): 213 – 214.

[Master’s thesis]
2011. “Doing body, doing mind, doing self: Vipassana meditation in everyday life’. Germany: Lambert Publishers. MSc thesis, Amsterdam Master’s in Medical Anthropology (AMMA), University of Amsterdam, the Netherlands.


Conference Presentations (since 2017)

2013 “Healing the city”: Sufi healing at Berlin’s Fernsehturm.
Original paper presented at the Workshop titled, “Prayer, Architecture, History” at the
Zentrum Moderner Orient (ZMO), Berlin, Germany. Organized by Charles Hirschkind and
Birgit Meyers, Research Initiative “New Directions for the Study of Prayer” under the
auspices of the Social Science Research Council (SSRC), New York, November 4-5.

2013. Beyond Dhikr and Whirling Dance: Innovative Body Practices among Sufi Groups in Berlin [Jenseits von Dhikr und Drehtanz: Innovative Körperpraktiken in Sufi-Gruppen in Berlin. Original poster presented at the Conference on “Somatization of the Religious” [Somatisierung des Religiösen Religionswissenschaftliche und –soziologische Perspektiven auf den rezenten religiösen Heilungs- und Therapiemarkt] at Hannover im Schloss Herrenhausen. Organised by Gritt Klinkhammer and Eva Tolksdorf, Religious Studies, Bremen University, Germany, October 23-25.

2011. Negotiation of Cultures in Public Health: Critical Reflections on an Applied Discipline. Cultural Transformations: Development Initiatives and Social Movements, the 2nd Inter Asian Cultural Studies Conference at BRAC University. December 18.

2009a. Delusion, Heresy or Resistance? Mass Suicide and a Minority Religion in Bangladesh. ‘Delusion, Heresy or Resistance? Mass Suicide and a “Minority” Religion in Bangladesh’, an initial draft of the paper was presented on June 26, 2009 at the Workshop-cum-Seminar on ‘Minority Cultures’, organized by the Centre for Studies in Social Sciences, Calcutta (CSSSC), 25-26 June, a Program of the CSSSC-Papiya Ghosh Memorial Fund supported by Tata Social Welfare Trust.

2009b. Ekattorer Debdas (Debdas of 1971): The ‘unusual’ protest and plight of a ‘living martyr’ of the Liberation War. Second International Conference on Genocide, Truth & Justice. Dhaka: Liberation War Museu, July 30-31, 2009.