Dr Karolina Kuberska BA MA PhD

Photograph of Dr Karolina Kuberska

Department of English Language and Applied Linguistics
Postdoctoral Fellow, ESRC Project “Death Before Birth”

Contact details

Room 48A, 3 Elms Road
University of Birmingham
B15 2TT

I am a medical anthropologist with background in cognitive linguistics. I joined the University of Birmingham in September 2016 as a postdoctoral fellow on an ESRC-funded project “Death Before Birth: Understanding, informing and supporting the choices made by people who have experienced miscarriage, termination, and stillbirth” that explores socio-legal intersections of decision-making processes in the experiences of miscarriage, termination, and stillbirth.


  • PhD Social Anthropology, University of St Andrews, UK
  • BA Social Anthropology, Adam Mickiewicz University, Poznań, Poland
  • MA Linguistics, Adam Mickiewicz University, Poznań, Poland
  • BA Cognitive Linguistics, University of Warmia and Mazury, Olsztyn, Poland
  • Associate Fellow, Higher Education Academy


I am a medical anthropologist, specialising in maternal health, with previous degrees in cognitive linguistics and social anthropology. In 2016, I received a PhD from the University of St Andrews. My most recent research project looked at postnatal health of Andean migrant women in a lowland Bolivian city of Santa Cruz de la Sierra. More particularly, I studied the ways in which a typically Andean postpartum illness occurring in an unusual lowland setting could be seen as a social problem, rather than just a bodily dysfunction. Additionally, between 2012 and 2013 I worked for a local NGO in Bolivia on a project involving local indigenous populations of the department of Santa Cruz de la Sierra. Recognising the value of qualitative studies that privilege individual people’s experiences, I am committed to interdisciplinary research that is able to impact lives in meaningful ways.


The core of my research interests and expertise falls within the scope of medical anthropology, with a specific focus on maternal health. In the project “Death before Birth”, I am a part of a team of researchers looking at various aspects of the experience of miscarriage, termination, and stillbirth in England. In particular, we are interested in how people reach decisions regarding what happens to their baby after death, how their perceptions of the law inform their decisions, as well as how these experiences are expressed to people around them.

In the past, I carried out ethnographic fieldwork among highland migrants to lowland Bolivia, focusing on the relationships between emotions, sociality, and well-being as well as understandings of the body that incorporate traditional and biomedical notions. I was specifically interested in conceptualisations of the perinatal period and how the transformations occurring in traditional concepts and rules of pregnancy and puerperium as a result of the implementation of new Bolivian health care policies. Furthermore, I looked at wider socio-politico-economic phenomena, with a particular focus on their impact on the way in which migrant women in the lowland Bolivian city of Santa Cruz de la Sierra understand and access medical care. Analysing the links between emotions and sociality also led me to a discussion of forms of kinship and relatedness found among highland migrants to lowland Bolivia.

Other activities

English Language Editor, Ethnography. Practices, theories, Experiences, journal published at the University of Gdańsk, Poland.


  • 2016a “Sobreparto and the lonely childbirth: Postpartum illness and embodiment of emotions among Andean migrants in Santa Cruz de la Sierra, Bolivia”, Etnografia. Praktyki, Teorie, Doświadczenia 2: 47-71.
  • 2016b. “Who benefits from hospital birth? Perceptions of medicalised pregnancy and childbirth among Andean migrants in Santa Cruz de la Sierra, Bolivia”, Health Tomorrow, 4: 60–87.