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Kristin Zeiler


How can the use of medical technology transform our perception of our bodies and our ways of interacting? How can illness and pain alter our very modes of being in the world? What epistemological challenges does interdisciplinary research entail?

Medical Humanities and Bioethics

Medical humanities research commonly investigates health, illness, pain, medical technologies and practices, with a focus on existential dimensions and attentive to the human being as a social, cultural, and biological being. Bioethics investigates ethical questions in the life sciences.

My research focuses on interdisciplinary medical humanities and bioethics, and specifically philosophy of medicine. This means, for example, that I study experiences of illness, the use of medical technologies or knowledge production in health care, from philosophical perspectives such as phenomenological philosophy, feminist philosophy, and through combinations of qualitative research and philosophical analysis. I also often engage with work within medical sociology, and science and technology studies. In ongoing research projects, I examine how critical phenomenology can be brought into dialogue with feminist technoscience, and how insights and methods from these different research strands can be used in the analysis of subjectivity, embodiment, and knowledge production in health care. Phenomenological philosophy on the one hand, and science and technology studies and feminist technoscience on the other, ask different questions and use different methods when answering the questions.

My academic background is interdisciplinary, and I value interdisciplinary collaborations. Interdisciplinary research requires generosity and joint efforts, when researchers with genuinely different backgrounds work together. Such work can be most productive and lead to new insights – as in one of the subprojects within a larger project on post-COVID where we combine biomedical perspectives with phenomenological philosophy (see below).

One of my professional roles is director of the Centre for Medical Humanities and Bioethics. The objectives of the centre are to promote and enable research, a research seminar, teaching, and collaboration. A further objective is to function as a platform for meetings between researchers from different disciplinary and interdisciplinary backgrounds, and between researchers, healthcare personnel and other societal actors. I see collaboration – interdisciplinary and with different societal actors – as interesting, productive, and necessary to address complex questions and future challenges. I am also co-responsible for the the Body, Knowledge, Subjectivity (P6) seminar series, together with my colleagues Ericka Johnson and Corinna Kruse. Further, another colleague, Harald Wiltsche, and myself are co-responsible for the newly initiated Interdisciplinary Phenomenology research node (IPH). This node is a cross-department collaboration that gathers colleagues at LiU who work with or have an interest in phenomenological philosophy. Central foci at IPH are, among others, phenomenology of science, medicine, and health.

Research projects

I am the research leader of two larger projects. The project Biomedicine, Clinical Knowledge, and the Humanities in Collaboration: A Novel Epistemology for Radically Interdisciplinary Health Research and Policy-Work on Post-Covid-19 Syndrome (funded by the Swedish Research Council, Interdisciplinary Research Environment Grant) investigates post-Covid as an urgent health challenge that requires interdisciplinary analyses of its meanings, expressions, implications, and co-constituting factors. It combines clinical rehabilitation medicine, neuroradiological, neurobiological, socio-political, philosophical, ethical, and patient perspectives, and comprises five subprojects. The project team consists of ca 20 colleagues at Linköping University and Linköping University Hospital, and of international partners in the UK, the USA, and France. The project is expected to contribute to a better understanding of post-COVID and to improved care for patients with post-COVID syndrome. In addition, I see this as a promising example of interdisciplinary research with innovative development of concepts and methods, of relevance also beyond the project’s specific focus on post-COVID.

The project A Feminist Approach to Medical Screening (funded by the Swedish Research Council; Consolidator Grant). Within this project, we study the ethical, existential and sociocultural aspects of early testing and screening for cognitive impairment and/or dementia, preconception carrier screening in the Netherlands. We have also analysed a health questionnaire sent out to teenagers in Swedish schools, and the views and experiences of teenagers when completing this questionnaire. Further, norm critical designers have engaged with the questionnaire and the analysis of teenagers’ experiences, and visualised this in an exhibition. The exhibition helps promote reflection on what health questionnaires can mean, and help do, for the subjects asked to fill them in.

This project also explores analytic gains and remaining tensions when feminist (and other) phenomenology and insights from STS are brought into dialogue with each other in analysis of subjectivity, embodiment, and normativity. This combination of perspectives is also central to the forthcoming edited volume Subjectivity, embodiment, agency – At the intersection of feminist phenomenology and feminist STS (ed. Kristin Zeiler and Lisa Folkmarson Käll).

I am part of the project Ontological security in a transforming world. This project is led by Victoria Wibeck and the project team consists of researchers from Linköping University as well as the University of Fiji and Massey University, New Zealand. This project combines political-economic, sense-making (qualitative), and phenomenological analyses of societal transformations and lived experience of these, in relation to climate change. The project’s empirical focus is on Fiji and other Pacific island states, and it contributes perspectives from environmental and medical/health humanities to debates on climate-related security, including a more thorough understanding of the challenges to health and security during a period of radical environmental change.

Previous research of mine has explored ethical, philosophical, and socio-cultural issues related to reproductive technologies (such as pre-implantation genetic testing, egg donation, surrogate motherhood), organ donation, dementia, and different cultural and religious conceptions of death. My past work has examined conditions for global bioethics, and offered phenomenological investigations of parents’ experiences of donating a kidney to their child, and how norms about sexed embodiment can be expressed and enacted within specific medical practices and help to shape decisions about genital surgery when a child is born with intersex anatomy. It has examined the role of embodiment, pain and suffering for subjectivity and for our ways of perceiving and engaging with others and the world. I have also worked with conceptions of disease and with the role of embodiment in relational autonomy conceptions. These past research projects have been funded by the Swedish Research Council (VR), Riksbankens Jubileumsfond (RJ Pro Futura), the Swedish Research Council for Health, Working Life and Welfare (FORTE), and the Swedish Foundation for Internationalisation Collaboration in Research and Higher Education (STINT).

Teaching and Supervision

My teaching experience includes courses at undergraduate, master’s, and postgraduate levels within the areas of biomedical ethics, ethics, global health, gender studies and health, theoretical perspectives of humanistic and social science health research, and qualitative and philosophical methodology, as some examples. Are you a master’s student or PhD candidate interested in medical humanities or bioethics? Feel free to contact me for more information about activities at LiU in these areas.

Internationalisation and collaboration

International collaboration and international aspects of research and teaching are central to my way of working. I have spent several periods as guest researcher abroad, including one year as Pro Futura Fellow at Cambridge University, UK, (2014/2015) as part of a five-year Pro Futura Scientia Fellowship at the Swedish Collegium for Advanced Study, a post doc and internship at the World Health Organization, Geneva, Switzerland, (2005), and one year as guest researcher at Cardiff University, UK (2000/2001). Among my central international collaboration partners are colleagues at the Institute for Medical Humanities, Durham University and colleagues working with health humanities at the Department of Culture Studies, Tilburg University.

Current academic commissions of trust include, for example, being member of the board of the Swedish Collegium of Advanced Study, Uppsala; member of the board of the Centre for Applied Ethics, LiU, and member of the scientific advisory group at the Centre for Practical Knowledge, Södertörn University.


Selection of the latest publications in LiU DIVA


Kristin Zeiler, Anna Segernäs, M. Gunnarson (2023) Entering the grey zone of aging between health and disease: a critical phenomenological account Continental philosophy review Continue to DOI


Kristin Zeiler (2022) Embodiment: Contributions from Feminist Science and Technology Studies and Feminist Phenomenology The Routledge Handbook of Feminist Bioethics, p. 123-134 Continue to DOI
Stephen Woroniecki, Victoria Wibeck, Kristin Zeiler, Björn-Ola Linnér (2022) Dethroning the Planetary Perspective: Dealing with Actually-Occurring Transformations Using Dialogical Sense-Making and Critical Phenomenology Preprints Continue to DOI
Kristin Zeiler (2022) Testning och screening för covid-19: Kunskapsmässig och ontologisk osäkerhet under pandemin. Screeningens mångsidighet: Dess möjligheter och utmaningar, p. 105-124
Martin Gunnarson, Kristin Zeiler (2022) Ethico-political aspects of clinical judgment in opportunistic screening for cognitive impairment: Arendtian and Aristotelian perspectives Medicine, Health care and Philosophy, Vol. 25, p. 495-507 Continue to DOI

Publications: Selection

  • Zeiler, K. 2020. Why feminist technoscience and feminist phenomenology should engage with each other: On subjectification/subjectivity. Feminist Theory 21(3): 367-390.
  • Zeiler, K., De Boer, M. 2020. The Empirical and the Philosophical in Empirical Bioethics: Time for a Conceptual Turn. AJOB Empirical Bioethics 11(1): 11-13.
  • Zeiler, K. 2014. A Phenomenological Approach to the Ethics of Transplantation Medicine: Sociality and Sharing when Living-With and Dying-With-Others. Theoretical Medicine and Bioethics 35:369-388.
  • Käll, L. F., Zeiler, K. 2014. Bodily Relational Autonomy. Journal of Consciousness Studies 21(9-10): 100-120.
  • Zeiler, K., and Käll, L. Folkmarson (eds). Feminist Phenomenology and Medicine. State University of New York Press (SUNY Press), 2014.
  • Zeiler, K. 2014. A Philosophical Defence of the Idea that Individuals Can Be Held in Personhood by Others: Intercorporeal Personhood in Dementia Care. Medicine, Health Care and Philosophy 17(1): 131-141.
  • Zeiler, K. 2013. A Phenomenology of Excorporation, Bodily Alienation and Resistance. Rethinking Sexed and Racialized Embodiment. Hypatia. A Journal of Feminist Philosophy 28(1): 69-84.
  • Malmqvist, E., Zeiler, K. 2010. Cultural Norms, the Phenomenology of Incorporation and the Experience of Having a Child Born with Ambiguous Sex. Social Theory and Practice 36(1): 157-164.
  • Zeiler, K. 2010. A Phenomenological analysis of bodily self-awareness in pain and pleasure. On bodily dys-appearance and eu-appearance. Medicine, Health Care and Philosophy 13(4):333-342.



Professor with responsibility for a platform, at the Department of Thematic Studies: Technology and Social Change 


Docent in ethics, particularly medical ethics


PhD in Thematic Studies of Health and Society (health humanities)

Research projects