Skip to main content

Graduate Student

Email: sigounv at


Yioula Sigounas
Graduate Student

Office: 303C Alumni Building

Area of Interest:

Medical Anthropology; Global Health; Humanitarian Aid and Human Rights; Anthropology of Science and Technology; Disability Studies; East Africa; Uganda


A.B.    Harvard University 2002
M.D.    UNC-Chapel Hill 2008
M.A.    UNC-Chapel Hill 2017

Research & Activities:

My research examines how technological innovation in the form of medical devices influences how individuals reintegrate their identities after life and limb-threatening traumas. In other words, I am interested in how people, their families, and their communities make decisions about what forms of technological interventions – and, by extension, machine-enhanced bodies – are socially acceptable and culturally compatible.

For my current research project I examine how people who have lost their legs in landmine explosions and traffic accidents in Uganda acquire and deploy devices and social relationships to improve their mobility. Drawing on fieldwork with prosthetic device makers, health care providers, and patients, I also explore the tensions among transnational global health organizations and the tinkerers and technological innovators who create devices in Uganda. More recently, I have been exploring the terrain of artificial limbs as forms of material humanitarian aid in East Africa while also learning about how Ugandans are using a combination of cutting edge technologies and traditional methods to build prosthetic legs and other assistive devices.

Courses Taught:
Happiness: Mind, Body, Society (Instructor of Record)
Comparative Healing Systems (TA)

Selected Presentations:

2018    “Tinkerers and Technological Innovators: Powering the Production of Locally-Made Prosthetic Devices in Uganda.” African Studies Association Conference. Atlanta, GA.
2018    “Challenging Standardized Care: How Tinkerers and Technological Innovators
Problematize the Standardization of Assistive Devices in Uganda.” Triangle African
Society Workshop. Chapel Hill, NC.
2018    “Resembling Reality: Child Sacrifice as Public Rumor and Oppositional Speech during Uganda’s Presidential Election.” American Ethnological Society Conference. Philadelphia, PA.
2017    “Making Assistive Devices Essential: Prioritizing Products in Global Health.” American Anthropological Association Annual Conference. Washington DC.
2016    “Things Visible and Invisible: NGO Dreaming in Urban Uganda.” Health and Humanities Exchange (HHEX) Conference. Chapel Hill, NC
2016    “The Art of (In)Action: 21 Days of Economic Crisis in Greece.” American Ethnological Society Conference. Washington DC
2016    “Elective Devices, Essential Medications: Materia Medica.” Futures and Ruins Workshop, Duke University. Durham, NC.