- Associate Professor, Department of Anthropology, University of Amsterdam
- Professor of Medical Anthropology, Department of Public Health and Primary Care, Leiden University Medical Center
- Honorary Professor, Children’s Institute, School of Child and Adolescent Psychology, University of Cape Town
- Fellow, African Studies Centre Leiden Community
Ria Reis is Full Professor of Medical Anthropology at Leiden University Medical Center, Department of Public Health and Primary Care (LUMC/PHEG), Associate Professor at the University of Amsterdam (UVA), Department of Anthropology, and in South Africa, Honorary Professor at the University of Cape Town (UCT), the Children’s Institute, School of Child and Adolescent Psychology, in South Africa. She also is a Fellow at the African Studies Centre Leiden (ASCL) community.
Whilst originally a cultural anthropologist (her graduate research was on the position of Tibetan Buddhist women in Ladakh, India) – Reis’s doctoral research took her to medical anthropology and neuropsychiatry. In Swaziland, where she lived from 1985-88, she investigated traditional healing and the treatment gap for epilepsy and therapy choices of people with seizures. In the 1990s she was involved in projects on concepts of epilepsy in the Netherlands, epilepsy stigma in Vietnam and China, and in many other projects on chronic illness and disability in different cultural settings.
Over the past 17 years her research has shifted to children and youth health and wellbeing. A core theme is the intergenerational transmission of vulnerabilities in contexts of inequality and (post)conflict, and young people’s health perceptions, strategies and resilience. She has particular interest in youth mental health and cultural idioms of distress as expressions of communal social suffering in regions affected by epidemics, disasters, conflicts and violence.
Examples of projects are: ‘The intergenerational transmission of violence and resilience in Burundi’; ‘Health in a former fishing village: a life-course approach’; ‘Healthy cities for children’; and many child and youth centered graduate and doctoral projects.
Most of her work articulates anthropological research within multidisciplinary health research and interventions, particularly in collaborative projects with partners in policy and practice. She is PI of the social science component in the MaxART Universal Test and Treat Implementation study program in which the UVA collaborates with Swaziland’s Ministry of Health, Aidsfund, Clinton Health Access Initiative, Harvard University , GNP+, SafAIDS and SACEMA; and of ‘Young Burundians tactical agency regarding sexual relations and decision making: From participatory research to evidence-based and practically relevant sexuality education’; and she is involved in a range of research and intervention studies in youth services and community health within the ‘Academic Collaborative Center Public Health – youth North South-Holland’ (AWP-j NZH) and collaborates in the development of a frugal thermometer for Africa.