Healthy city: Creating environment where moving is easy and cool

MHM Conversations


The second conversation of the MHM series, ‘Healthy city: Creating environment where moving is easy and cool’, takes place on 17 August 2021 at 18:00 at Pauls Stradiņš Museum of the History of Medicine, live streamed on the museum’s Facebook account. In this conversation, social anthropologist Anna Žabicka, architect and social anthropologist Matīss Šteinerts and President of the Latvian Street Workout and Calisthenics Federation Rolands Kikors will share their thoughts on an urban environment that would promote physical activity and diminish the impact of social inequity.

Just like healthy eating promotion drives, social campaigns for active lifestyle often focus on raising awareness of the health benefits and significance of sports. In this conversation, we will look to identify other mechanisms alongside education that influence and potentially change people’s habits and facilitate an active lifestyle. Is it possible to create an urban environment that would encourage in various ways both children and adults to embrace physical activities like cycling, jogging, walking instead of driving/riding, and exercising? What would this city look like? And, conversely, what kind of city promotes inactivity? What, in comparison with big cities, are the advantages and drawbacks of small towns and villages in terms of keeping yourself in shape? What are the factors that encourage young adults and grownups take up physical activities and how significant is free sports practice for children and teenagers in developing a taste for movement?

This time around, the participants in the conversation will explore health from the perspective of architecture, urban planning, grassroots sports and population involvement and discuss whether an (urban) environment could exist that would not only promote physical activities among its residents but also lessen the impact of social inequity.

About the contributors

Anna Žabicka is a social anthropologist who is currently writing her PhD thesis on aging and care in the Latvian countryside, basing it on a long-term ethnographic research carried out in a small Latvian countryside care home. Anna is specialising in medical anthropology: her principal academic focus is on the subjects of aging, care, health and social inequity, death and kinship. A holder of two MA degrees in social anthropology from Wayne State University (USA, 2019) and Riga Stradiņš University (2014), Anna Žabicka is currently studying toward a doctoral degree at the University of Vienna and teaching anthropology of medicine, death and kinship at Riga Stradiņš University.

Matīss Šteinerts is a practising architect and social anthropologist focusing on urban anthropology; the range of his interests includes analysis of the urban planning situation; alternative food provision in the city; roadside memorials and the right to the city. Matīss has studied in Latvia and the USA and is currently a lecturer at the Faculty of Architecture of Riga Technical University and the Social Anthropology Programme at Riga Stradiņš University.

Rolands Kikors is the President of the Latvian Street Workout and Calisthenics Federation. Professionally, Rolands is a lawyer, Head of the Legal and AML Department of the Swiss Dukascopy Bank SA group. In his free time, he stays actively involved in sports ‒ freestyle and Greco-Roman wrestling, CrossFit and street workout, which is an officially recognised sport in Latvia since the spring of 2019.

The MHM series of conversations is centred around discussions on the notion of health. Our health is a multi-layered and variable experience that is influenced by a number of factors, not always medical ones. In our conversations we will explore subjects like health inequity and inequality, stigmatisation of diseases and the influence of the urban environment and loneliness on our health. As part of the series, joined by experts of medical and social sciences and medical professionals, we will address subjects like health inequity in Latvia; the place of narcotic substance users in the society and their access to healthcare; the influence of urban environment on health behaviour, nutrition and food chains, as well as loneliness, sexual health and sexuality.

The MHM conversation series is supported by Friedrich Ebert Foundation. 

The event at the museum can be attended exclusively by persons presenting a valid Covid-19 vaccination or recovery certificate and an identity document. Prior to the event, please register at the museum’s information centre.

Live stream of the event can be accessed on the MHM Facebook account here. The recording of the conversation is available on our Youtube channel.

Faience mineral water mugs. Karlsbaden (Karlovi Vari), 1930s.


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