Fabian Winiger

Fabian Winiger

M.Sc. Medical Anthropology (Oxford), Ph.D. Medical Anthropology (Hong Kong University)

Senior Research Fellow at the Professorship for Spiritual Care.


E-Mail / LinkedIn / Twitter

Research Interests

  • Religion and spirituality in global health
  • Spirituality and secularism in multilateral Organisations
  • Digitalisation and Spiritual Care


  • 2022- Spirituality and Health in the United Nations: Global Norms and Local Practices (Swiss National Science Foundation) More

  • 2020- UFSP Digital Religion(s): Digitally-shaped Spiritual Care in Healthcare Chaplaincy (P11) More

  • 2018-2020: The Integration of Spiritual Aspects into the WHO Health Policy since 1984. Historical Investigations in view of the Foundations of Interprofessional Spiritual Care (Swiss National Science Foundation) More

Curriculum Vitae

  • 2022- Senior Research Fellow, Professorship for Spiritual Care, University of Zürich.
  • 2018-2021 Postdoc, Professorship for Spiritual Care, University of Zürich.
  • 2014-2018 Ph.D. Medical Anthropology, Hong Kong University; Research Fellow Yale (2018).
  • 2012-2013 M.Sc. Medical Anthropology, Oxford University.
  • 2009-2011 Bachelor in Sociology and Media & Communication with Honours, University of Canterbury (Christchurch, New Zealand)
  • 2007-2009 NZ Diploma in Business, CPIT (Christchurch, New Zealand)

Selected Publications

Peng-Keller, S., Winiger F., & Rauch R.The Spirit of Global Health—The World Health Organization and the ‘Spiritual Dimension’ of Health (1946–2021). Oxford University Press, in press.

Winiger, F., & Peng-Keller, S. (2021). Religion and the World Health Organization: An evolving relationship. BMJ Global Health, 6(4), e004073. https://doi.org/10/gkd2nn

Winiger, F. (2020). “More than an intensive care phenomenon”: Religious communities and the WHO Guidelines for Ebola and Covid-19: „Mehr als ein Phänomen der Intensivpflege“: Religiöse Gemeinschaften und die WHO Richtlinien für Ebola und Covid-19. Spiritual Care, 9(3), 245–255. https://doi.org/10/gg8qhd

Winiger, F. (2020). The Chief Fallacy: A Commentary on Hostility to Hospitality: Zum Irrtum der ‚Hauptliebe‘: Ein Kommentar zu Hostility to Hospitality. Spiritual Care, 9(2), 109–113. https://doi.org/10.1515/spircare-2019-0093

Iskra, A., Winiger, F., & Palmer, D. A. (2020). Remaking the Self: Spirituality, Civilization, the Chinese Quest to “Live Well” in the Reform-Era. In S. Feuchtwang (Ed.), Handbook on Religion in China (pp. 54–74). Edward Elgar Publishing Ltd,.

Winiger, F., & Neuhold, D. (2020). Michael J. Balboni/Tracy A. Balboni, Hostility to Hospitality. Spirituality and Professional Socialization in Medicine (review). Schweizerischen Zeitschrift Für Religions- Und Kulturgeschichte, 114.

Palmer, D. A., & Winiger, F. (2019). Neo-socialist governmentality: Managing freedom in the People’s Republic of China. Economy and Society, 48(4), 554–578. https://doi.org/10/ggdv6g

Palmer, D. A., & Winiger, F. (2019). Secularization, Sacralization and Subject Formation in Modern China. In The Secular in South, East, and Southeast Asia (pp. 83–105). Palgrave Macmillan. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-89369-3_5

Winiger, F. (2019). Who Cares? Health, Religion, and “Spiritual Care” in the People’s Republic of China. In S. Peng-Keller & D. Neuhold (Eds.), Spiritual Care im globalisierten Gesundheitswesen: Historische Hintergründe und aktuelle Entwicklungen (pp. 251–276). Wissenschaftliche Buchgesellschaft.

Winiger, F. (2018). Qigong in Three Social Worlds: National Treasure, Social Signifier, or Breathing Exercise? In C. Brosnan, P. Vuolanto, & J.-A. B. Danell (Eds.), Complementary and Alternative Medicine: Knowledge Production and Social Transformation (pp. 85–110). Palgrave Macmillan. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-73939-7_4

Winiger, F. (2017). “When the spirit cannot feel the body”: Overcoming Cartesian mind-body dualism with qigong practice. Sciences and Techniques of Sports and Physical Activities (STAPS), 3, 113–142.

Knowledge Exchange


Chaplaincy Innovation Lab. "The WHO’s First Conference on Spiritual Care: What’s this Conference About, and Why is it Important?" (Blog Post).


American Anthropological Association. “Healthism, Colonialism and Neoliberal 'Spirituality' in the WHO Discourse on Traditional Medicine” (Conference presentation).


Joint Research Council, Transforming Chaplaincy Initiative. "Buzzword or Way of the Future? On the Emergence of 'Telechaplaincy' in Three Major U.S. Healthcare Systems." (Paper presentation).


WHO & Religions for Peace. "Chaplaincy: Critical and changing roles in COVID-19". Global conference on strengthening national responses to health emergencies (Conference organisation and panel moderation).


Evangelische Akademie zu Berlin. "Telechaplaincy: Forschungsergebnisse zu digitalen Formen seelsorglicher Spiritual Care." Fachgespräch zum Thema "Kann man zu existenziellen Fragen zoomen, skypen, chatten? Chancen und Herausforderungen von Online-Kommunikation" (Conference presentation).


Digital Religion(s): Der Blog. “Digitalisierung seelsorglicher Spiritual Care: Telechaplaincy" (Interview).


Leeds Centre for Religion and Public Life conference on Religious Engagement and the COVID Response. Spiritual Care and Digital Presence: On the Turn to Telechaplaincy During the Covid-19 Pandemic” (Conference presentation).


COVID-19: SPIRITUAL CARE. Ressourcen zur seelsorglichen Arbeit.  www.covid-spiritualcare.com (Online resource repository for spiritual care providers during the Covid-19 pandemic.).


Roser, T., Peng-Keller, S., Kammerer, T., Karle, I., Lammer, K., Frick, E., & Winiger, F. (25 March 2020). The Corona pandemic as a challenge for spiritual care—Advice for pastors (Joint statement, available in  English - German - French - Italian - Spanish)


European Association of Science and Technology Studies. “Through Thick And Thin: Semantic Abstraction And Contextualisation In The World Health Organization's Discourse On 'Traditional Medicine’” (Conference Presentation).


Joint Learning Initiative on Faith and Local Communities. “WHO Guidelines for Ebola and Covid-19” (Guest lecture).


World Council of Churches, Geneva. "The ‘Spiritual Dimension’ in Global Health" (Co-organiser and -chair, Interdisciplinary Roundtable).


Third Swiss Conference on Spiritual Care. “Spiritual Care und die WHO Definition der Gesundheit” (Conference presentation).


Yale CCS Spring Conference. “A Century of Humiliation: Chinese Cultural Trauma after Mao” (Conference presentation).


National University of Singapore. "‘Neo-Socialist Governmentality’ and the Genealogy of Chinese Socialist Spiritual Civilization”. (Conference presentation, with David A. Palmer).