Stephanie Alexander

Post-doctoral fellow in the Chair of Anthropology and Global Health

Originally from Canada, Stephanie Alexander is a post-doctoral fellow (2015 – 2018) at the Collège d’études mondiales (Global Studies Institute, Paris France) in the Research Chair Anthropology and Global Health (Dr Nguyen). With an interdisciplinary training in the field of public health (PhD, Université de Montréal, Canada), her doctoral research involved a critical examination of how the notion of children’s ‘play’ is reshaped when it is instrumentalised for health purposes by public health institutions (e.g., to promote physical activity, reduce childhood obesity). Through a critical discourse analysis and photography project with children, she placed in juxtaposition two divergent perspectives to consider the possible consequences of a “public healthification”  of children’s play and of social practices more generally.

Research Project 

For her post-doctoral research, Stephanie turns toward historical and anthropological questions to examine the globalisation of concepts and normative assumptions underlying physical activity programmes targeting youth. This work considers the stakes of such programmes, specifically with regard to the construction of a ‘universal’ healthy childhood. Her research project entitled “Globalising children's play: tracing the historical emergence and global movement of 'active play'” involves the analysis of how the notion of play and physical activity are promoted globally at the intersection of political and health efforts addressing children’s health. In particular, the project aims to: (1) historically trace the emergence of international organisations promoting play as a universal right of the child and examine how these organisations advance globally normative notions about childhood; (2) analyse the assumptions around children’s health and rights that underlie the promotion of ‘active play’ within global health promotion efforts; (3) ethnographically examine the global health partnerships (specifically, Canada and Kenya) that promote and evaluate ‘active play’ and physical activity, and analyse how such efforts converge or are confronted with diverse conceptions about leisure, health and childhood. 

Selected publications

Alexander, S.A., Fusco, C. & Frohlich, K.L. (2015) “You have to do 60 minutes of physical activity per day… I saw it on TV.”: Children’s play narratives in the context of the public health discourse of playing for health. Sociology of Health & Illness, 37(2), 227-240.
 
Alexander, S.A, Frohlich, K.L., & Fusco, C. (2014) Problematizing ‘Play for Health’ Discourses Through Children’s Photo-elicited Narratives. Qualitative Health Research, 24(10), 1329-1341. 

Alexander, S.A., Frohlich, K.L., & Fusco, C. (2014) “Active play may be lots of fun…but it’s certainly not frivolous”: The emergence of active play as a health practice in Canadian public health. Sociology of Health & Illness, 36(8), 1188-1204.