Assistant Professor of Sociology and Anthropology
I am a medical anthropologist who studies the culture, practices, politics, and economics of global health institutions. My most extensive fieldwork experience is in Pakistan, and recently I have been energized by the potential power of comparative analysis across locales when studying large global health projects.
Since 2005, I have been studying the Global Polio Eradication Initiative, a 20 year, 9 billion dollar project aiming to eliminate poliovirus from the world forever—a goal that thus far has proved elusive. My book, Chasing Polio in Pakistan (Vanderbilt University Press, 2010) explores why eradication is so difficult in Pakistan, one of the last countries with endemic polio.
Currently, I am PI on a seven-country study, funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, assessing the impact of polio eradication on routine immunization and primary health care. An open access article, available at http://www.biomedcentral.com/1471-2458/12/728, describes the methodology of this study. I am particularly excited about our use of participant observation and other anthropological methods to rigorously and systematically explore the impacts of this major vertical program on local health systems.
Increasingly, I am interested in the experiences of frontline primary health staff, especially those who work for little or no pay. In 2011, I conducted a study on ground level health staff in Pakistan, with funding from UNICEF. Next, I am collaborating with Kenneth Maes at Oregon State University on a National Science Foundation-funded study of frontline health staff in Ethiopia.
Courses offered in the past four years.
▲ indicates offered in the current term
▹ indicates offered in the upcoming term[s]
FYSE 1333 - Epidemics
In this seminar we will explore epidemics from a social scientific perspective. Examining disease outbreaks from the black plague to swine flu, we will explore questions like: What is an epidemic? What are the social factors that put certain populations at risk for disease? Why do some epidemics get extensive media attention, while others that kill many more people remain invisible? In this seminar we will read and discuss case studies of epidemics and theoretical perspectives on why they happen. Students will carry out a research project on an epidemic of their choice.
FYSE 1402 - The Social Life of Wilderness ▲
The Social Life of Wilderness
In this seminar we will examine evolving American ideas of “wilderness” from a social science perspective. We will explore how ideas of what wilderness is—or should be—play out in complex cases including the removal of Native Americans from some U.S. National Parks and the establishment of wilderness parks in poor countries that cater to tourists. Through a focus on the nearby Adirondack Park, which contains both land designated in the New York state constitution as “forever wild” and the homes of 130,000 people, we will explore historian William Cronon’s question: “How do you manage a wilderness full of human stories?” 3 hrs. sem.
IGST 0705 - African Studies Senior Thesis ▲
African Studies Senior Thesis
INDE 0500 - Independent Project
Fall 2009, Winter 2010
INDE 0800 - Ind Scholar Thesis
Fall 2009, Spring 2010, Fall 2011, Winter 2012, Spring 2012
INTL 0705 - African Studies Senior Thesis
African Studies Senior Thesis
Fall 2011, Winter 2012, Spring 2012
INTL 0707 - South Asian Studies
South Asian Studies Senior Thesis
Winter 2010, Spring 2010, Winter 2011, Winter 2012
SOAN 0267 - Global Health ▹
This course provides an introductory survey of the basic issues and initiatives in contemporary global public health, including in-depth case studies of public health projects in locales including Haiti, Venezuela, Brazil, Rwanda, and Pakistan. We will explore the political, socioeconomic, and cultural complexity of health problems, and critically examine the structure and methods of global public health institutions. 3 hrs. lect./disc. (Anthropology)
Fall 2009, Fall 2010, Spring 2014
SOAN 0302 - Ethnographic Research ▲
The Research Process: Ethnography and Qualitative Methods
The aim of this course is to prepare the student to conduct research, to analyze and present research in a scholarly manner, and to evaluate critically the research of others. Practice and evaluation of such basic techniques as observation, participant-observation, structured and open-ended interviews, and use of documents. Introduction to various methodological and theoretical frameworks. Thesis or essay prospectus is the final product of this course. Strongly recommended for juniors. Three-hour research lab required. (SOAN 0103 or SOAN 0105) 3 hrs. lect./disc./3 hrs. research lab (Anthropology)
Fall 2009, Fall 2010, Fall 2011, Fall 2013
SOAN 0353 / RELI 0353 - Anthropology Muslim Cultures ▹
Islam in Practice: Anthropology of Muslim Cultures
In this course, we will explore Muslim cultures across the world. We will approach Islam from an anthropological, as opposed to a text-based or theological, perspective. We will take a global view, focusing not only on the Middle East but on Muslim societies in North America, Europe, Africa, the Indian subcontinent, and South-East Asia. Topics we will cover include: (1) the diversity of Muslim identity and practice; (2) the impact of colonialism and empire on Muslim societies; (3) women's experiences of Islam; and (4) the politics of religious practice. (Prior coursework in anthropology, sociology, or religion recommended) 3 hrs. lect./disc. (Anthropology)
Spring 2012, Spring 2014
SOAN 0387 - Medical Anthropology
Medical Anthropology: Approaches to Affliction and Healing
In this course, an introduction to medical anthropology, we will explore cultural and political-economic perspectives on health, illness, and disease. Topics covered include: (1) biocultural approaches to understanding health; (2) medical systems, including biomedicine and others; (3) the effects of poverty and inequality on health outcomes; and (4) the social construction of health and illness. Students will apply these concepts in understanding an aspect of health, illness, or healing in their own research project with an ethnographic component. An introductory course in anthropology or familiarity with medical or public health issues is recommended. 3 hrs. lect./disc. (Anthropology)
Spring 2010, Spring 2011, Fall 2011
SOAN 0468 - Success/Failure Global Health
Success and Failure in Global Health and Development Projects
In 1977, the Smallpox Eradication Program obliterated a disease that once killed almost two million people a year. In contrast, the Malaria Eradication Program of the same era blanketed much of the world in DDT, yet failed to make much of a dent in incidence of malaria in Africa. Through case studies and critical engagement of readings from political science, economics, and anthropology, we will explore the questions: Why do a few global health and development projects succeed? Why do most fail? Why do some make things worse for the people they are supposed to benefit? Does a productive way forward exist? (One course in global health or development, such as SOAN 0267, SOAN 0360, SOAN 0387, SOAN 0467, PSCI 0258, ECON 0325, ECON 0327, ECON 0425, ECON 0429, or GEOG 0210) 3 hrs. sem. (Anthropology)
SOAN 0500 - Advanced Individual Study ▲ ▹
Prior to registering for SOAN 0500, a student must enlist the support of a faculty advisor from the Department of Sociology/Anthropology. (Open to Majors only) (Approval Required) (Sociology or Anthropology)
Fall 2009, Winter 2010, Spring 2010, Fall 2010, Winter 2011, Spring 2011, Fall 2011, Winter 2012, Spring 2012, Fall 2012, Winter 2013, Spring 2013, Fall 2013, Winter 2014, Spring 2014
SOAN 0700 - One-Semester Senior Project ▲
One-Semester Senior Project
Under the guidance of a faculty member, a student will carry out an independent, one-semester research project, often based on original data. The student must also participate in a senior seminar that begins the first week of fall semester and meets as necessary during the rest of the year. The final product must be presented in a written report of 25-40 pages, due the last day of classes. (Sociology or Anthropology)
Fall 2009, Spring 2010, Fall 2010, Spring 2011, Fall 2011, Spring 2012, Fall 2013
SOAN 0710 - Multi-Semester Senior Project ▲
Multi-Semester Senior Project
Under the guidance of a faculty member, a senior will carry out an independent multi-semester research project, often based on original data. The student must also participate in a senior seminar that begins the first week of fall semester and meets as necessary during the rest of the year. The final product must be presented in a written report of 60-100 pages, due either at the end of the Winter Term or the Friday after spring break. (Sociology or Anthropology)
Fall 2009, Winter 2010, Spring 2010, Winter 2011, Spring 2011, Fall 2011, Winter 2012, Spring 2012, Fall 2013
SOAN 1018 - Epidemiology
In this course, an introduction to epidemiology, we will explore the science of understanding health and disease at the population level. Rather than relying on lectures, students will learn concepts by working in groups on real-world cases where epidemiologic methods must be used to understand and control the spread of disease. We will develop or examine different mathematical models to better understand the spread of disease. (Anthropology)