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Personal profile

Research Interests

I am an anthropologist specialising in Japanese Studies and a researcher in Science and Technology Studies (STS). My research focuses on risk, technology, ethics, health, and human rights. I am currently based at the Centre for Biomedicine, Self and Society (Usher Institute, University of Edinburgh) where I am supporting work on the Wellcome Trust Seed Award “AI and Health: Exploring Affect and Relationality Across Three Sites of Intelligence and Care” (2019-2021). The project, led by Professor Sarah Cunningham-Burley, investigates how AI and robotics are being used in different ways in health and social care: robotics in surgery, digital methods that help diagnose disease, and the use of socially assistive robots (SARs) to support those who may be ill or frail at home. While such developments hold the promise of improving health and social care, they also raise social and ethical issues. The aim of my current research is to inform policy and help those involved in AI, robotics, health and social care to deal with such concerns. For this project, I built links with Japan and conducted 30 qualitative interviews with stakeholders, practitioners and scholars in AI and robotics based in the UK, Europe, USA, Australia and New Zealand. I led as first-author three peer-reviewed research papers about AI and robotic technologies in health and social care for: Social Science & Medicine; Engaging Science, Technology, and Society; and the International Journal of Social Robotics. Drawing on this research, I also delivered eight invited talks and three presentations at international conferences and workshops. Finally, I co-organised two panels and three public engagement events, and was invited to contribute to other five public engagement events including a podcast for the Royal Anthropological Institute and a stand-up comedy show at the Fringe Festival (Cabaret of Dangerous Ideas 2020/2021).

Prior to joining CBSS, I studied for my PhD (AHRC-funded LAHP scheme) at University College London under the supervision of Dr Alexandra Pillen (UCL Anthropology). My thesis was based on extensive ethnographic fieldwork with the populations affected by the Fukushima disaster, and my experience volunteering in recreative camps for Fukushima children since 2013. I explored how my collaborators from Fukushima made sense of and coped with different kinds of risks brought by the nuclear disaster: not only the risk of radiation, but also economic risk, job insecurity, loss of homeland, identity crisis, state abandonment, and discrimination due to widespread radiation stigma. In particular, I collaborated with a group of so-called ‘voluntary’ nuclear evacuees (jishu hinansha) who initiated collective civil actions against TEPCO and the Japanese government to seek compensation and legal protection after 3.11. I worked with single mothers with young children (boshi hinansha), elderly and disabled evacuees and my study was informed by: participant observation at their temporary housing facilities; more than 100 hours of attendance at the Fukushima collective civil lawsuits; and conversations with the plaintiffs’ lawyers and healthcare practitioners. Drawing on my doctoral research, I wrote a monograph which will be published in the Nissan Institute/Routledge Japanese Studies Series in 2021, and a book chapter for an edited collection that will also be published in 2021 in the Routledge Series on Hazards, Disaster Risk and Climate Change.



2015-2019 UCL Anthropology, Ph.D. Social Anthropology, AHRC-funded
2014-2015 Oxford University, St Antony’s College. MSc Social Anthropology
2011-2014 Ca’ Foscari University of Venice, Italy. MPhil Japanese Studies
2012-2013 Ritsumeikan University, Japan. MEXT/JASSO Scholarship, Advanced language training
2011-2012 INALCO Paris, France. EU Erasmus Scholarship, MSt Japanese Studies
2008-2011 Ca’ Foscari University of Venice, Italy. BA Law and Economics of East Asia

Visiting and Research Positions

2016-2017 Kyoto University, Japan, Visiting Researcher 


2021 Six-month-long secondment at Edinburgh University Institute for Academic Development (IAD) for the project Strengthen support for managers and PIs of research staff through training and online resources (Researcher Development Concordat plans). This post has a particularly strong commitment to promoting Equality, Diversity, and Inclusion (EDI) in academia.

2019-2021 While working at CBSS, I have contributed to developing synchronous and asynchronous online learning, teaching, leading seminars, and marking dissertations for the undergraduate honours course Bioethics, Law and Society within Edinburgh University Medical School. In particular I contributed to the themes AI Ethics and Environmental Justice.

2017-2019: Full-time Post-Graduate Teaching Assistant (PGTA) for the undergraduate course Gender, Language and Culture (lecturer: Dr Alexandra Pillen), UCL Anthropology. I contributed to preparing and delivering the tutorials for this course, which included multi-media presentations on the loss of gender, the post-modern constructions of under-represented voices, and emerging narratives of resistance to institutional power.


Twitter: @giulia_de_togni

External positions

Secondment, Institute for Academic Development, University of Edinburgh

1 Feb 202131 Jul 2021


  • GN Anthropology
  • Anthropology
  • Medical Sociology
  • Science and Technology Studies (STS)
  • Ethnography
  • Qualitative research methods
  • Anthropology of disasters and polluted environments
  • Risk theory
  • Neoliberal Governmentality
  • Biopolitics
  • Human rights and humanitarian assistance
  • AI
  • Robotics
  • Socially Assistive Robotics
  • AI and robotics technologies in health and social care
  • Roboethics
  • Gender, power and resistance studies
  • Japan
  • East Asia
  • Legal Anthropology
  • Linguistic Anthropology
  • Social Anthropology
  • H Social Sciences (General)


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