Jacinta Victoria Syombua Muinde

Image of Jacinta Victoria Syombua Muinde
Norwegian version of this page
Phone +47 22850522
Mobile phone +47 97354171
Visiting address Gullhaug torg 1 0484 OSLO Norway
Postal address Postboks 1091 Blindern 0317 Oslo

Academic Interests

Thematic: Medical Anthropology; Economic Anthropology; History and Anthropology; Development and Humanitarianism; Global and Public Health; Social Protection and Welfare; State and Citizenship; Kinship; Care; Gender; Moral and Political Economy. 

Regional: Kenya; East Africa. 


Jacinta Victoria Syombua Muinde's research focuses on moral and political economies of health, social protection and welfare, development, humanitarianism and critical global health, with a focus on East Africa. She has keen interest in medical anthropology, the anthropology of the state and citizenship, the anthropology of gender, kinship and  care, in economic anthropology, and, more recently, she is developing research in the anthropology of  epidemics. Muinde's research is based on extensive ethnographic fieldwork experience on Kenya’s cash transfer schemes, universal health coverage, national health insurance, informal networks of care, gender and matrilineal kinship at the Kenya’s south coast. She engages both anthropological and historical approaches.

Muinde's current research is part of the "Epidemics and African Health Systems: Covid-19 in Kenya" funded by the Research Council of Norway. This study explores ethnographically how rural and urban communities in Western Kenya have experienced COVID-19 pandemic, anti-epidemic measures, and how these are shaping relations within and between people, and with the state and the healthcare system, as well as people’s perspectives on the virus and the pandemic. Kenya has a long history of community health interventions and public health controls to manage outbreaks such as sleeping sickness, cholera, malaria, small pox and HIV/AIDS. In western Kenya where this study is conducted, epidemic and anti-epidemic measures (HIV/AIDS and TB treatment programmes, Ebola preparedness exercise just before the arrival of the COVID-19 pandemic) have been far more present than many other parts of the country. However, the rationale and intensity in which COVID-19 protective measures continue to be implemented and engaged is quite different from previous outbreaks in western Kenya, and the duration they will continue to be used or to be part of peoples’ lives is still unknown. The ongoing, and continually changing and evolving pandemic situation triggers questions concerning how people are experiencing and engaging the anti-epidemic measures and the healthcare system itself. These are the central questions this research investigates.     

As a post-doctoral research fellow, based at the Institute of Health and Society, within the European Research Council funded project titled “Universal Health Coverage and the Public Good in Africa: An Anthropological Study” , Muinde's research focuses on Kenya and is concerned with the intersection of financial and social protection/welfare projects, specifically Universal Health Coverage (UHC), national health insurance and Cash Transfers (CTs) implemented recently by the government of Kenya. The study investigates how people engage with these social and financial protection projects; what notions these engender including conceptions of the state and citizenship; imaginations and negotiations of obligations/responsibility; and the new forms of solidarity that result from these. She also examines how the interaction between state and non-state healthcare interventions, and informal and kin networks of care in a matrilineal context in Kenya South Coast contribute to the ways healthcare is assumed, embodied and contested in the local context. 

Muinde's doctoral research (as a Commonwealth Scholar) at the University of Cambridge explored how cash transfer schemes in a matrilineal and Islamic context in the Kenya South Coast informed women’s economic lives and their narratives of ill health, impacted on gender relations and contributed to kin-making relations. This research has been awarded the Royal Anthropological Institute's Sutasoma Award and The Audrey Richards Prize by the African Studies Association of the UK(ASAUK). She is working on a monograph titled 'Economies of Care: Women, Cash Transfers and Matrilineal Relations in Kenya South Coast.'  Her previous work investigated the history of poverty interventions and the emergence of cash transfer schemes as a new welfare intervention in Kenya.


  • PhD in Social Anthropology, University of Cambridge
  • MPhil in Social Anthropology, University of Cambridge 
  • BA in Anthropology, Maseno University, Kenya


  • Royal Anthropological Institute's Sutasoma Award for outstanding PhD research (2018) 
  • The Audrey Richards Prize 2020 by the ASAUK (African Studies Association of the UK) for the best PhD dissertation in African Studies 

Courses taught

PhD Course: MF9295  Global Health (Epidemics and their Control)

Masters Course: INTHE4117 Global Epidemics 


(2020) ‘Health Insurance for the poor: Insights from the Kenyan Coast.’ Somatosphere. Available at: http://somatosphere.net/2020/health-insurance-poor-kenya.html/

(2018) ‘Winning women’s hearts: women, patriarchy and electoral politics in Kenya’s South Coast’ in Nanjala Nyabola and Marie-Emanuelle Pommerolle (eds) Where women are: gender & the 2017 Kenyan elections. Nairobi: Twaweza Communications, pp.152-189.

(2017) ‘Digo women, patriarchy and elections in the Kenya South Coast.’ Gender Forum, Heinrich Böll Stiftung. Available at: https://ke.boell.org/en/2017/08/29/digo-women-patriarchy-and-elections-kenya-south-coast

Special Issue

 (with Ruth Prince and Janina Kehr). ‘Health for All? Pasts, Presents and Futures of Universal Health Care and Universal Health Coverage.’ Social Science and Medicine

Under Review

‘Pains and Energies: Women, cash transfers and the moral economy of care in Kenya’s south coast’. Medical Anthropology Quarterly

(with Ruth Prince). ‘A new universalism? Universal health coverage and debates about solidarity, inclusion and ‘the poor’ in Kenya’. Social Science and Medicine. For Special issue ‘Health for All? Pasts, Presents and Futures of Universal Health Care and Universal Health Coverage’ edited by Ruth Prince, Janina Kehr and Jacinta Victoria S Muinde. 


Economies of Care: Women, Cash Transfers and Matrilineal Relations in Kenya South Coast. (in preparation)



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Published Oct. 10, 2018 10:38 AM - Last modified Jan. 25, 2022 11:55 AM