Research project

Research prize 2021
for his career in social medicine and anthropology devoted to the fight against epidemics and access to treatment

A doctor of medicine and anthropology, in 2001 he defended a thesis entitled “”Epidemics, interzones and bio-social change: retroviruses and the biologies of globalization in west africa ” directed by Margaret Lock. Vinh Kim NGUYEN has built his career between academia and the medical profession. Since 2013, Vinh Kim has been a professor in the department of social and preventive medicine at the University of Montreal. Between 2013 and 2015 he was a research lecturer in the Department of anthropology at the Universiteit van Amsterdam. Currently, Vinh Kim Ngueyn is professor in the Department of anthropology and sociology of development at the Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies, professor in the School of Public Health and Faculty of Medicine at the Université de Montréal, Research Chair at the Collège d’études mondiales (Paris) and visiting professor in the Department of Social Sciences, Health and Medicine at King’s College.

Vinh Kim Nguyen’s work has left its mark on the anthropological discipline through its theoretical inventiveness. Following in the footsteps of Michel Foucault, he proposed a number of notions to account for the new forms taken by biopolitics in a context of globalization, crisis of the welfare state and epidemiological shock. Through the history of international medical intervention in Africa, he proposes to read the emergence of a new form of political power: therapeutic sovereignty, based both on a logic of sorting (to determine which patients should be treated in a situation of shortage) and of exception (epidemiological emergency justifying the circumvention of national sovereignties and the rights they guaranteed). The originality of his approach also lies in a critical engagement with the biomedical sciences, enabling the integration of biology and molecular epidemiology as tools for understanding the biosocial transformations of the contemporary world and renewing the theoretical framework of the anthropology of globalization. In 2007, he was awarded the Prix Aurore by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada.

The French Red Cross Foundation has decided to award the Honorary Prize to Vinh Kim Nguyen for his entire career and research career devoted to the anthropology of epidemics and humanitarian medical interventions. Her work is distinguished by its originality and quality. Her academic work is combined with a commitment to the rights and access to treatment of people living with HIV in the North and South.

Recent publications

Lock, M., and V.K. Nguyen. An Anthropology of Biomedicine. Wiley-Blackwell, 2011.

Nguyen, V.K. “Antiretroviral Globalism, Biopolitics, and Therapeutic Citizenship.” In Global Assemblages, edited by Aihwa Ong and Stephen J. Collier, 124–44. Blackwell Publishing Ltd, 2008.

Nguyen, V.K., C.Y. Ako, P. Niamba, A. Sylla, and I. Tiendrébéogo. “Adherence as Therapeutic Citizenship: Impact of the History of Access to Antiretroviral Drugs on Adherence to Treatment.” AIDS 21 (2007): S31–S35.

Nguyen, V.K., N. Bajos, F. Dubois-Arber, J. O’Malley, and C.M. Pirkle. “Remedicalizing an Epidemic: From HIV Treatment as Prevention to HIV Treatment Is Prevention.” AIDS 25, no. 3 (2011): 291.

Nguyen, V.K. “Government-by-Exception: Enrolment and Experimentality in Mass HIV Treatment Programmes in Africa.” Social Theory & Health 7, no. 3 (2009): 196–217.

Nguyen, V.K. “Uses and Pleasures: Sexual Modernity, HIV/AIDS, and Confessional Technologies in a West African Metropolis.” Sex in Development: Science, Sexuality, and Morality in Global Perspective, 2005,245–68.


The French Red Cross Foundation’s Research Prizes are designed to promote scientific work that has already been completed, or innovative lines of thought devoted to humanitarian and social issues, in both the North and South. Open to all disciplines of the human and social sciences and to all nationalities, they reward scientific excellence and human commitment, promoting scientific knowledge, ethical reflection and social innovation to advance action in the service of the most vulnerable.