Professor Sophie Day MA PhD

Staff details

I work on health - or living – as a distributed and a distributive process.

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).

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)

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.; 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


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

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

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).