Translating Global Health Technologies: Standardisation and organisational learning in health care provision in Uganda and Rwanda


This project analyses practices of adaptation, creativity and organisational learning by focusing on traveling health technologies in selected districts in Uganda and Rwanda. In Phase I of the project (2011-13) our research concentrated on how global health technologies not only reconfigure access to medicines, but also coproduce scientific and social orders in non-western settings. The results suggest shifting this focus to the re-organisation of entire health care services. In order to better capture the complexities that changing health care practices entail for patients, health staff and the overall organisation of health care in Uganda and Rwanda, our project conceptualises translation as a two-way process: this enables us to trace how creative practices adapt technologies to specific contexts, and in turn, how these contexts are also adapted to the technologies, e.g. through  various forms of organisational learning.

Our main research objective in the coming two years is to analyse how therapeutic agencements change when travelling technologies are being translated to particular sites. In order to trace these processes, we document practices of creativity, adaptation and organizational learning in three different global health technologies and work packages:

Work Package I: Rapid tests and changing diagnostic agencements

The aim of this work package is to identify and compare the specific role selected technologies of standardisation play in the identification and diagnosis of diseases. The core research question focuses on how diagnostic technologies translate individual (bodily) symptoms into disease categories, and thus render diagnosis compatible with available treatment options.

Work package II: Access to treatment and organisational learning 

In this work package we map and analyse the institutional shifts that new technologies of access engender. The core question tracks how standardisation of health services and treatment protocols has been triggered by as well as led to organisational learning.

Work package III: Institutionalisation of medical data management

This work package concentrates on how (new) digital and analogue data infrastructures are institutionalised in therapeutic agencements. The core questions analyses how documentation and monitoring of medical and pharmaceutical practices co-constitute and re-order organisational learning processes, and how far these changes penetrate the organisation of health care itself.

In summary, our project contributes to the Priority Programme through a detailed analysis of the translation process and the interplay between standardising practices and the production of social (dis)order in global health practices in Rwanda and Uganda.

Project team:


Prof. Richard Rottenburg, Martin-Luther University Halle-Wittenberg

Prof. Dieter Neubert, University of Bayreuth

Dr. Ulrike Beisel, University of Bayreuth

Dr. Herbert Muyinda, Makerere University

Norman Schräpel (MA), Martin-Luther University Halle-Wittenberg

René Umlauf (MA), University of Bayreuth


Research areas:

Uganda and Rwanda

See interactive map

Project events


13-16 February 2013: Kigali II Workshop “Knowing about the use of medicines” at University of Halle.

10-12 February 2012: Kigali Workshop 2012 "Translating Global Health Technologies" at Kigali Health Institute, Kigali, Rwanda.

19-20 July 2012: Workshop "Relocating Science and Technology. Global Knowledge, Traveling Technologies and Postcolonialism. Perspectives on Science and Technology Studies in the Global South." Call for Abstracts until March 15, 2012.


Previous and upcoming presentations & workshops concerning the project