Professor Sophie Day MA PhD

Staff details

Position Professor Emerita
Department Anthropology
Email (
Phone +44 (0)20 7919 7811
Professor Sophie Day MA PhD

I am conducting research until 2022 on a Wellcome Trust medical humanities project ‘People Like You.’ I am also preparing a monograph, Rendering Houses, about Ladakhi biographies and work as a Visiting Professor in the School of Public Health at Imperial College, London where I am seconded 2 days a week.
I studied social anthropology at Cambridge University, Stanford University, Ca., and the London School of Economic and Political Sciences, where my PhD explored spirit possession in Ladakh, North India.
I was awarded the Eileen Basker Prize and the Wellcome Medal for Anthropology as Applied to Medical Problems for my 2007 monograph, On the Game: Women and Sex Work (London: Pluto Press).

Academic qualifications

  • PhD Anthropology, LSE 1989

Research interests

I am collaborating with Professors Celia Lury (Warwick) and Helen Ward (Imperial) on contemporary practices of personalisation in elements of health and medicine, digital culture and data science. Our collaboration, ‘People Like You’, is supported by the Wellcome Trust through a collaborative award in the medical humanities, 2018-2022.

I established the Patient Experience Research Centre with Professor Helen Ward at Imperial College London and continue to work there.

I documented, digitalized and returned images from my 1980s fieldwork to Ladakh, North India (with Dr Leizaola, supported by the British Academy 2009-2011), which has led to my book, in process, about the biographies of houses. I collaborated with Celia Lury and Nina Wakeford (Sociology) on new numeracies in a project supported by Intel Research (2011-2014). Earlier in the 2000s, I completed a programme of research with sex workers in London (with support from the Wellcome Trust), and a European project on HIV prevention (supported by the European Commission).

Publications and research outputs


Day, Sophie E.. 2023. Rendering Houses in Ladakh. Abingdon: Routledge. ISBN 9781350100114

Day, Sophie E.. 2007. On the Game: Women and Sex Work. Pluto Press. ISBN 9780745317588

Day, Sophie E. and Ward, H.. 2004. Sex work, Mobility and Health in Europe. Kegan Paul. ISBN 0710309422

Edited Book

Day, Sophie E.; Papataxiarchis, Evthymios; Stewart, Michael and Papataxiarchis, Akis, eds. 1998. Lilies of the Field: Marginal People Who Live for the Moment,. Westview Press Inc. ISBN 978-0813335315

Edited Journal

Carson, Janet; Day, Sophie E. and Strafford, Charles, eds. 2018. Special Issue: Reason and Passion: The Parallel Worlds of Ethnography and Biography, Social Anthropology, 26(1). 0964-0282

Book Section

Day, Sophie E.; Smith, Jayne and Ward, Helen. 2022. The Gardener and the Walled Garden. In: Celia Lury; William Viney and Scott Wark, eds. Figure: Concept and Method. Singapore: Palgrave Macmillan, pp. 149-172. ISBN 9789811924750

Viney, William and Day, Sophie E.. 2021. Figuring Molecular Relapse in Breast Cancer Medicine. In: Celia Lury; William Viney and Scott Wark, eds. Figure: Concept and Method. Singapore: Palgrave Macmillan, pp. 127-148. ISBN 9789811924750

Day, Sophie E.. 2021. Non-married women: life stories from four members of an extended family in and around Leh. In: Rafal Beszterda; John Bray and Elizabeth Williams-Oerberg, eds. New Perspectives on Modern Ladakh: Fresh Discoveries and Continuing Conversations in the Indian Himalaya. Toruń, Poland: Wydawnictwo Naukowe Uniwersytetu Mikolaja Kopernika/Nicolaus Copernicus University Press, pp. 95-114. ISBN 9788323147237

Day, Sophie E. and Lury, Celia. 2016. Biosensing: Tracking Persons. In: Dawn Nafus, ed. Quantified: Biosensing Technologies in Everyday Life. Cambridge MA: MIT Press, pp. 43-66. ISBN 978-0-262-52875-7

Day, Sophie E.. 2015. Waiting and the architecture of care. In: Veena Das and Clara Han, eds. Living and Dying in the Contemporary world: A Compendium. Berkeley: University of California Press, pp. 167-184. ISBN 9780520278417

Day, Sophie E.. 2012. Demographies in Flux. In: R Fardon; J Gledhill; O Harris; T Marchand; M Nuttall; C Shore; V Strang and R Wilson, eds. The Sage Handbook of Social Anthropology. 2 London: Sage, pp. 2007-2038. ISBN 9781847875471

Day, Sophie E.. 2010. Ethics between Public and Private: Sex Workers’ Relationships in London. In: M Lambek, ed. Ordinary Ethics: anthropology, language, and action. NY: Fordham University Press, pp. 292-309. ISBN 9780823233175

Day, Sophie E.. 2008. Wolfenden 50: revisiting state policy and the politics of sex work in the UK. In: V Munro and M Della Giusta, eds. The Supply / Demand Dynamic in Prostitution. Rarnham: Ashgate, pp. 51-66. ISBN 978-0-7546-7150-3

Day, Sophie E.. 2008. Visions of Ladakh: Nicola Grist, 19 April 1957 - 26 August 2004. In: M van Beek and F Pirie, eds. Ladakhi societies: continuity and change in anthropological perspective. 20 Leiden: Brill, pp. 29-40. ISBN 1568-6183

Day, Sophie E.. 2007. 'Threading time in the biographies of sex workers'. In: Janet Carsten, ed. Ghosts of Memory: Essays on Remembrance and Relatedness. Oxford: Blackwell, pp. 172-193. ISBN 978-1405154239

Day, Sophie E.. 2001. 'Biological Symptoms of Social Unease: the Stigma of Infertility in London Sex Workers'. In: Soraya Tremayne, ed. Managing Reproductive Life: Cross-Cultural Themes in Fertility and Sexuality (Fertility, Reproduction, and Sexuality). 1 Oxford & NY: Berghahn Books, pp. 85-103. ISBN 978-1571813176

Day, Sophie E.. 2000. 'The Politics of Risk Among London Prostitutes'. In: Pat Caplan, ed. Risk Revisited. London: Pluto, pp. 29-59. ISBN 978-0745314631


Day, Sophie E.; Lury, Celia and Ward, Helen. 2023. Introduction. Political arithmetic: old and new. Distinktion: Journal of Social Theory, 24(2), pp. 157-166. ISSN 1600-910X

Day, Sophie E.; Gleason, Kelly; Lury, Celia; Sherlock, Di; Viney, William and Ward, Helen. 2023. ‘In the Picture’: Perspectives on Living and Working with Cancer. Medical Humanities, 49, pp. 83-92. ISSN 1468-215X

Day, Sophie E.; Lury, Celia and Ward, Helen. 2023. Personalization: a new political arithmetic? Distinktion: Journal of Social Theory, 24(2), pp. 167-194. ISSN 1600-910X

Viney, William; Day, Sophie E.; Bruton, Jane; Gleason, Kelly; Ion, Charlotte; Nazir, Saima and Ward, Helen. 2022. Personalising Clinical Pathways in a London Breast Cancer Service. Sociology of Health & Illness, 44(3), pp. 624-640. ISSN 1467-9566

Day, Sophie E.; Viney, William; Bruton, Jane and Ward, Helen. 2021. Past-futures in experimental care: breast cancer and HIV medicine. New Genetics and Society, 40(4), pp. 449-472. ISSN 1463-6778

Lury, Celia and Day, Sophie E.. 2019. Algorithmic Personalization as a Mode of Individuation. Theory, Culture & Society, 36(2), pp. 17-37. ISSN 0263-2764

Rai, T; Bruton, Jane; Day, Sophie E. and Ward, Helen. 2018. From activism to secrecy: contemporary experiences of living with HIV in London in people diagnosed from 1986 to 2014. Health Expectations, 21(6), pp. 1134-1141. ISSN 1369-6513

Day, Sophie E.. 2018. An experiment in story-telling: reassembling the house in Ladakh. Social Anthropology, 26(1), pp. 88-102. ISSN 0964-0282

Carsten, Janet; Day, Sophie E. and Stafford, Charles. 2018. Introduction: Reason and Passion: The Parallel Worlds of Ethnography and Biography. Social Anthropology, 26(1), pp. 5-14. ISSN 0964-0282

Day, Sophie E. and Lury, Celia. 2017. New Technologies of the Observer: #BringBack, Visualisation and Disappearance. Theory, Culture & Society, 34(7-8), pp. 51-74. ISSN 0263-2764

Howarth, Alison R.; Day, Sophie E.; Greene, Linda and Ward, Helen. 2017. “They made me feel comfortable”: a comparison of methods to measure patient experience in a sexual health clinic. BMC Health Services Research, 17(325),

Day, Sophie E.; Coombes, R. Charles; McGrath-Lone, Louise; Schoenborn, Claudia and Ward, Helen. 2017. Stratified, precision or personalised medicine? Cancer services in the 'real world' of a London hospital. Sociology of Health and Illness, 39(1), pp. 143-158. ISSN 0141-9889

Bruton, Jane; Norton, Christine; Smyth, Natasha; Ward, Helen and Day, Sophie E.. 2016. Nurse handover : Patient and staff experiences. British Journal of Nursing, 25(7), pp. 386-393.

Wood, Frances; Salam, Abdul; Singh, Kavita; Day, Sophie E.; Jan, Stephen; Prabhakaran, Dorairaj; Rodgers, Anthony; Patel, Anushka; Thom, Simon and Ward, Helen. 2015. Process evaluation of the impact and acceptability of a polypill for prevention of cardiovascular disease. BMJ Open, 5, e008018.

McGrath-Lone, Louise; Day, Sophie E.; Schoenborn, Claudia and Ward, Helen. 2015. Exploring research participation among cancer patients: Analysis of a national survey and an in-depth interview study. BMC Cancer, 15(1), 618. ISSN 1471-2407

McGrath-Lone, Louise; Ward, Helen; Schoenborn, Claudia and Day, Sophie E.. 2015. The effects of cancer research participation on patient experience: a mixed-methods analysis. European Journal of Cancer Care., 15, ISSN 0961-5423

Day, Sophie E.. 2015. ‘The More Things Change, the More They Stay the Same’: Idioms of ‘House Society’ in the Leh area (Ladakh). Tibet Journal, XL(2), pp. 173-194. ISSN 0970-5368

Day, Sophie E.; Lury, Celia and Wakeford, Nina. 2014. Number ecologies: numbers and numbering practices. Distinktion: Journal of Social Theory, 15(2), pp. 123-154. ISSN 1600-910X

Bone, A; McGrath-Lone, Louise; Day, Sophie E. and Ward, H.. 2014. Inequalities in cancer patient experience: analysis of data from the National Cancer Patient Experience Survey 2011-12. BMJ Open, 4(2), ISSN 2044-6055

Salam, Abdul; Stewart, Frances; Singh, Kavita; Thom, Simon; Jame Williams, Hilarie; Patel, Anushka; Jan, Stephen; Laba, Tracey; Prabhakaran, Dorairaj; Maulik, Pallab; Day, Sophie E. and Ward, Helen. 2013. Interpreting the Processes of the UMPIRE Trial (INPUT): the design of a process evaluation of a fixed dose combination (FDC) strategy to improve adherence to cardiovascular medications – a qualitative study. INterpreting the Processes of the UMPIRE Trial (INPUT): protocol for a qualitative process evaluation study of a fixed-dose combination (FDC) strategy to improve adherence to cardiovascular medications, 3,

Day, Sophie E. and Leizaola, Ricardo. 2012. Picturing Ladakhi nomads over the span of a generation. Visual Anthropology Review, 28(2), pp. 133-151. ISSN 1058-7187

Day, Sophie E.. 2010. The re-emergence of ‘trafficking’: sex work between slavery and freedom. Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute, 16(4), pp. 816-834. ISSN 13590987

Day, Sophie E. and Goddard, Victoria. 2010. New Beginnings between Public and Private: Arendt and Ethnographies of Activism. Cultural Dynamics, 22(2), pp. 137-154. ISSN 0921-3740

Day, Sophie E.. 2009. Renewing the War on prostitution: The spectres of ‘trafficking’ and ‘slavery’. Anthropology Today, 25(3), pp. 1-3. ISSN 0268540X

Day, Sophie E.; Cooper, K.; Green, A. and Ward, H.. 2007. 'Maids, Migrants and Occupational Health in the London Sex Industry'. Anthropology and Medicine, 14(1), pp. 41-53. ISSN 1364-8470

Day, Sophie E. and Ward, H.. 2006. What happens to women who sell sex? Report of a unique occupational cohort. Sexually Transmitted Infections, 82(5), pp. 413-417. ISSN 1368-4973

Day, Sophie E.; Cooper, K.; Green, A. and Ward, H.. 2004. Declining prevalence of STI in the London sex industry 1985 to 2002. Sexually Transmitted Infections, 80(5), pp. 374-379. ISSN 13684973

Day, Sophie E.; Ward, Helen; Ison, Catherine; Martin, Iona; Ghani, Azra C; Bell, Gina; Kinghorn, George; Weber, Jonathan and Garnett, Geoff. 2000. A prospective social and molecular investigation of gonococcal transmission. The Lancet, 356(9244), pp. 1812-1817. ISSN 0140-6736

Day, Sophie E.; Ward, H. and Weber, J. 1999. 'Risky business: health and safety in the sex industry over a 9 year period'. Sexually Transmitted Infections, 75(5), pp. 340-343. ISSN 1368-4973

Day, Sophie E.; Ward, H.; Ison, Catherine; Bell, Gina and Weber, J. 1998. 'Sexual Networks: The Integration of Social and Genetic Data'. Social Science and Medicine, 47(12), pp. 1981-1992. ISSN 0277-9536


Day, Sophie E.. 1989. Embodying Spirits: Village Oracles and Possession Ritual in Ladakh, North India. Doctoral thesis, Goldsmiths, University of London

Further profile content

Media engagements

Photographic exhibition
Sophie Day presented two photographic exhibitions on Ladakh in 2011, one in Leh (Ladakh) and one at Goldsmiths

Conferences and talks

2021: People Like You: Contemporary Figures of Personalisation
A one-day event presenting findings from our research and artworks in health, data science and digital cultures, Kings Place, London.

2021: People Like You: A new political arithmetic?
International workshop exploring a new political arithmetic that puts data in dynamic relation through tracking, analysis, and feedback.

2022: Written Portraits: Performance and Discussion for World Poetry Day.
Sophie Day and Di Sherlock discuss their research in cancer care; with readings of some of Sherlock's poems

Grants and awards

2018: Wellcome Trust (collaborative grant, 205456/Z/16/Z), 'People Like You': Contemporary Figures of Personalisation
PI: Sophie Day (Goldsmiths), Celia Lury (Warwick), Helen Ward (Imperial) (4 years)

2018: NIHR Global Health Research Unit for Cardiovascular Disease and Diabetes in South Asia
participant, advisory commitee (5 years)

2018: NIHR Imperial BioMedical Research Centre (BRC): Patient Experience Research Centre
School of Public Health, Imperial College London (5 years)

Areas of supervision

I supervise research students in the anthropology of health, and in a wide range of topics related to kinship, gender, labour and temporality. I am also interested in students researching Ladakh (India).
I currently supervise Cathy Nugent, who is writing up her research into the London upgrade of the telecommunications network (ESRC) and Paaras Abbas, who is completing her MRes and will commence her MPhil/PhD in the autumn 2021 (ESRC).