Dr. Sarah Hartmann


Critical Sustainability Studies

+41 31 684 33 19
Postal Address
University of Bern
Institute of Geography
Hallerstrasse 12
CH-3012 Bern

Postdoc Project since 2022: 

This project looks at issues around work, transnational mobilities and future transformations in healthcare from a critical sustainability perspective. Starting from the health sector in Switzerland, which is marked by the global trend of the commodification of healthcare and is very dependent on labour from abroad, the project follows transnational mobilities of people, knowledges and practices, especially to Eastern Europe. The recruitment of health workers, for example from Romania, allow to shift the costs of medical education and training and the transfer of knowledge to other countries. At the same time, mobility allows individuals to follow their personal aspirations and imaginaries of work, and the exchange and circulation of knowledge can bring about innovation and transformation. Focusing on the intersection of education, work and mobilities, this project engages with questions of justice and explores how a spatially informed, critical perspective can inform current debates about the future of work and of (im)mobilities in healthcare and develop capacities for transformation, emancipation and justice in the search for more ‘sustainable work’.

The project is part of "Healthcare unbound: A transnational perspective on the future of the world of work in health care"

Postdoc Project 2021 - 2022: Building and assessing trust in platform-mediated care and domestic work in Delhi

This project explores platformisation in the feminised sectors of care and domestic work and focuses on trust as a critical factor in digital labour mediation. The aim is to analyse strategies of trust building and assessing trustworthiness from a multi-stakeholder perspective (platforms, gig workers and customers). This to better understand issues arising from digitalisation in a sector that that requires location-based work in private spaces. The project looks at the situation in Delhi, India, a global hub in digital work with a booming gig economy, to analyse how digital labour platforms shape trust and employment relations in a sector known for highly gendered, informal, precarious and invisible labour.


PhD Project 2016 - 2020: Medical travel facilitation between Oman and India: Articulating spaces, creating smoothness and negotiating ethical complexities

My thesis is set in the context of transnational healthcare and looks at medical travel from Oman to India with a specific focus on practices of medical travel facilitation. This offers a route into better understanding how these practices contribute to making transnational healthcare, and care, possible, feasible and possibly ‘good enough’ for patients to consider. Working through different dimensions of medical travel facilitation in conversation with recent work on care in Science and Technology Studies and the ethics of care, I explore three interrelated ways in which these practices are integral to transnational healthcare: first, for how they articulate spaces and spatialities, second, for the way they make transnational healthcare ‘smooth’ and third, for how they negotiate ethical complexities.     
The empirically informed theorisation of the relationships between facilitation and care as encountered in ethnographic fieldwork in Oman and India contributes to current debates about (transnational) configurations of care in the fields of ethics, policy, and Science and Technology Studies in geography and beyond.

  • 2022 –             Postdoc project, University of Bern, Critical Sustainability Studies, Department of Geography
  • 2021 – 2023     Postdoc project, University of Zurich, Labour Geography, Department of Geography
  • 2020 – 2021     Postdoctoral teaching and research associate, University of Zurich, Department of Geography,
  • 2016 – 2020     PhD in Geography, The Open University, Migration and Mobilities, Department of Geography
  • 2015 – 2016     Studying for Teaching Diploma in Geography, University of Zurich, Department of Educational Sciences
  • 2013 – 2015     Master of Science in Economic and Human Geography, University of Zurich, Department of Geography
  • 2014                 Erasmus Semester, University College London, Department of Geography
  • 2010 – 2013     Bachelor of Science in Geography, University of Zurich, Department of Geography
  • Hartmann Sarah (2021): Caring for and caring about international patients in Delhi – between strategy and sympathy, in: Vindrola-Padros C. Carework and Medical Travel – Exploring the emotional dimension of caring on the move. Lexington Books/ Rowman & Littlefield Book chapter
  • Hartmann Sarah (2020). Medical Travel Facilitation between Oman and India: Articulating Spaces, Creating Smoothness and Negotiating Ethical Complexities. Thesis: The Open University 
  • Hartmann Sarah (2019). Mobilising patients towards transnational healthcare markets – insights into the mobilising work of medical travel facilitators in Delhi. Mobilities14(1), 71–86. Article
  • Backhaus Norman & Hartmann Sarah (2018): Das 100-Jahr-Jubiläum des Nationalparks in der Presse. In: Haller, Rudolf Michael; Rapp, Maja; Hämmerle, Andrea. Am Puls der Natur: Der Nationalpark und sein Direktor im Spannungsfeld zwischen Forschung, Management und Politik. Bern: Haupt, 134-151 Zora book section
  • Hartmann Sarah (2017): The work of Medical Travel Facilitators: Caring for and Caring about International Patients in Delhi. Vol. 6 Geographien Südasiens. Heidelberg: CrossAsia-ebooks eBook
  • Kaspar Heidi, Hartmann Sarah, Schurr Carolin (2016): Themenheft Health Mobilities. Feministisches Geo-Rundmail, No 69 Article
  • Backhaus Norman, Hartmann Sarah & Müller-Böcker Ulrike (2016): Biosfera Val Müstair: Einheimische und Gäste. Zürich: Geographisches Institut Universität Zürich Zora research report