Our Contributors

These are the regular contributors to Somatosphere.  A list of guest contributors can be found here.


Jason Alley brings overlapping interests in anthropology, film and cultural studies to his research and writing.  He is currently a Lecturer in the Department of Film and Digital Media at the University of California, Santa Cruz.

Ekaterina Anderson is a PhD student in the Department of Anthropology at Boston University. She plans to conduct research on how the cultural competence movement and mental health care reform in Israel jointly affect everyday experiences, practices, and decisions in clinical settings.

Kalman Applbaum teaches medical anthropology and global studies at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. His research has concerned the marketing, prescribing and use of psychiatric medicines in the US and Japan.

Sultana Banulescu is a PhD candidate in History at the City University of New York Graduate Center. She holds an MA degree in History of Science from Princeton University, an MS degree in Physiology and Biophysics from the University of Iowa, an MD degree from Carol Davila University of Medicine and Pharmacy in Bucharest, Romania, and a BS degree in Biochemistry from the University of Bucharest. Sultana’s dissertation explores the political, religious, and artistic dynamics of Italian psychoanalysis between 1908 and 1948. Her research interests include modern European history, cultural and intellectual history, history of science and medicine, and medical humanities.

Melanie Boeckmann is a PhD candidate in the Department of Public Health at the University of Bremen, Germany, and associated with the Leibniz Institute for Prevention Research and Epidemiology – BIPS. In her dissertation, Melanie researches the effects of climate change on human health with a focus on urban health, adaptation and evaluation research and on theories of risk and vulnerability. Melanie holds an MA in English, American and African Studies and a BA in Public Health. She has previously done research in the fields of women’s health, disasters and health and is interested in the connections between environment, culture, and population health.

Lara Braff received her PhD from the University of Chicago’s Department of Comparative Human Development in 2010. She is now a Postdoctoral Fellow at the Center for US-Mexican Studies at UCSD. Her ethnographic research examines the cultural implications and lived experiences of globalized biosciences – namely, assisted reproductive technologies and genetic sciences – in Mexico. Her broader research interests include the anthropologies of medicine/health, science/technology, gender/kinship, personhood, and the body.

Amy Cooper is an Assistant Professor of Anthropology at Muhlenberg College. Her research interests include medicine, the body, mental health and psychiatry, homelessness, and aging; the anthropological study of citizenship and political activism; and Latin American and Caribbean studies. Her research focuses on the relationships between political ideologies, public health systems, and local formulations of bodies, medicine, and subjectivity. She has conducted ethnographic research on these topics in urban Venezuela, Cuba, and the United States. Amy received her Ph.D. from the University of Chicago’s Department of Comparative Human Development in 2012.

Jessica Cooper is a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Anthropology at Princeton. She is broadly interested in the intersections of legal and medical anthropology. Her research explores constructions of biomedical knowledge and liberal governance in mental and behavioral health courts in the United States.

Matt Dalstrom is an Assistant Professor of Anthropology at Rockford College. In 2010 he received his PhD in anthropology from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. His research and teaching interests include medical anthropology, applied anthropology, medical tourism, and health disparities. Currently, he is working on two projects. Along the US/Mexico border he is researching American retirees who travel to Mexico for health care and the impact that it has on their health. In addition, he is working on a collaborative project with the Winnebago County Health Department to improve access and usage of prenatal health care in Rockford, IL.

Talia Dan-Cohen is a Postdoctoral Fellow in the Department of Anthropology at Washington University in St. Louis. Her work concerns the intersection of engineering and biology in the field of synthetic biology. Her interests include epistemology and the anthropology of knowledge, technical expertise, rationalities and aesthetics, and the explorations — empirical and theoretical — of problems in the philosophy of science.

Maria Cecilia Dedios is currently a graduate student at the University of Chicago where she is doing a master’s program in the Social Sciences with concentration in Comparative Human Development. Her current research is focused on culture and psychosocial development under conditions of political violence among young adults in Colombia.

Paul Wenzel Geissler teaches social anthropology at the Institute of Social Anthropology, University of Oslo, and the London School of Hygiene. His research explores the practice of scientific research and collaboration in Africa, combining ethnography and history. His most recent books are the monograph The Land is Dying (2010; with Ruth Prince), and Evidence, Ethos and Experiment: the anthropology and history of medical research in Africa (2011; edited with Sassy Molyneux).

Emily Goldsher-Diamond is an MA student in the Media, Culture & Communication department at New York University.  Her research interests include medical anthropology and science studies as they relate to the issues of prosthetics, enhancement technology and organ transfer.  She is an Associate Editor at literary culture site Vol. 1 Brooklyn.  Emily plans to pursue her PhD in Medical Anthropology, STS or a related interdisciplinary field.

Cassandra Hartblay is a PhD student in Medical Anthropology at the University of North-Carolina at Chapel Hill. Her dissertation research considers disability and citizenship in post-Soviet Russia. The project focuses on the discourses deployed by parent-activists lobbying for inclusive education in the Western city of Petrozavodsk and the Siberian region of Buryatia, and is concerned with resituating Soviet rehabilitation, exclusion and (self-)discipline in the broader context of twentieth century regimes of productivity.

Ann Kelly is a Lecturer of Anthropology in the Department of Sociology and Philosophy at the University of Exeter. Her work centers on the pragmatic dimensions of public health research in Africa, with special attention to the built-environments, material artefacts and practical labours of experimentation in former British colonies.

Erin Koch: I am an assistant professor in the Department of Anthropology at the University of Kentucky. My research and teaching interests include anthropological studies of medicine, science and technology; infectious disease; humanitarianism; postsocialism; and anthropological theories and methods. I am completing a book manuscript titled Free Market Tuberculosis: Managing Medicine in the Republic of Georgia. I examine the effects of Soviet collapse on tuberculosis and responses to tuberculosis in Georgia, and what counts as expert knowledge in the face of WHO-directed biomedical standardization. My current research in Georgia investigates health effects of displacement and humanitarian interventions. I am interested in how health care, policy and aid organizations produce moral claims to organize institutions, social spaces, and diagnoses as they bring relief—and distress—to displaced populations. My subsequent project will examine Georgian scientific innovation in the use of bacteriophage treatments to combat bacterial infections in humans. This research will investigate how infectious diseases and responses to them are produced through dynamic human-microbe relationships in which moral claims about infected populations, national health care systems, global health policies, and the commodification and regulation of living entities (viruses) as antibacterial agents are contested and negotiated.

Elizabeth Lewis is a doctoral student at the University of Texas at Austin. Her research focuses on shifting conceptions of disability, particularly deafblindness and multiple disabilities. She is particularly interested in the intersections of medical anthropology, affect, and disability studies, and her current research probes how dynamic realities of disability unfold in everyday life. She has conducted ethnographic research in Guatemala and Nicaragua, as well as in the U.S.

Stephanie Lloyd is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Psychiatry at McGill University. She is a medical anthropologist whose research and teaching focus on transnationalism and the migration of medical categories and practices as they are translated linguistically, socially and culturally. She grounds her work in ethnographic research in France and Canada on the global spread and local interactions of psychiatric technologies with local and regional cultures, social change, policies and histories.

Francis Mckay is a Joint PhD Candidate in Anthropology and the Conceptual and Historical Studies of Science at the University of Chicago. His focus is on the science and politics of well-being in the United States, and how the concept of well-being is reconfiguring the notion of biopower in the twenty-first century. His ethnographic research focuses specifically on mindfulness practices in the U.S. and the UK, and situates that more broadly withing other “happiness sciences” that have emerged over the past decades: contemplative studies, positive and hedonic psychology, and the economics of happiness. Other interests include science and religion, continental philosophy of science, psychological and medical anthropology, and STS.

Seth Messinger is an Associate Professor in the Department of Sociology and Anthropology at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County and a researcher with the Center for Rehabilitation Sciences Research at the Uniformed Services University of Health Sciences. He received his PhD in anthropology from Columbia University in 2003, and from 2002 – 2004 held an NIMH funded postdoctoral fellowship at the Institute for Health, Health Care Policy and Aging Research at Rutgers University. His research interests include the anthropology of biomedicine and psychiatry, trauma, memory, and history. Seth is the Book Reviews Editor for Somatosphere.

Todd Meyers is Assistant Professor of Medical Anthropology at Wayne State University. He received a joint Ph.D. in anthropology and population, family, & reproductive health sciences from the Johns Hopkins University in 2009. With Stefanos Geroulanos, he edits the Forms of Living book series at Fordham University Press, and has most recently completed a translation (with Stefanos Geroulanos) of Georges Canguilhem’s Writings on Medicine (Fordham University Press, forthcoming 2011) and Georges Canguilhem’s Knowledge of Life (Fordham University Press, 2008). Todd is the Associate Editor of Somatosphere.

Neely Myers received her PhD from the University of Chicago’s Department of Comparative Human Development in August 2009. Her research interests include medical and psychological anthropology, schizophrenia and severe mental illnesses, cross-cultural strategies for mental health, and the ways schizophrenia is understood and researched in a variety of contexts. She has published some of her findings in Culture, Medicine and Psychiatry and is currently finishing a book manuscript based on her dissertation research on the Recovery Movement in the U.S. mental health system. She is currently living in Washington, DC, with her husband, two daughters, and adorable dog, and working under a National Institutes of Health training fellowship at Georgetown University’s Department of Psychiatry.

Michael J. Oldani is an Assistant Professor of Medical Anthropology at the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater. He received his doctorate from Princeton University in 2006. He specializes in the study of pharmaceutical culture and its impact on medicine/psychiatry, society, and individuals. His ethnographic research has focused on the sales activities of pharmaceutical salespersons, or “drug reps,” and their impact on doctor prescribing habits as well as the effects of psychiatric medication on personhood and family life.

Branwyn Poleykett is a postdoctoral fellow in the Department of Social Anthropology at the University of Cambridge.  Her PhD project “Intimacy, Technoscience and the City: regulating “prostitution” in Dakar, 1946-2010 traced the history of the sanitary regulation of prostitution across the twentieth century as it moved into the clinical spaces and worlds of practice of experimental virologists and urban development professionals.

Sadeq Rahimi, MSc, PhD, is Assistant Professor of Medical Anthropology, and Associate Faculty in the Department of Psychiatry, University of Saskatchewan. Born in Iran, he moved to Canada in 1989 as a political refugee. He received his Ph.D. in Cultural Psychiatry at McGill University and training in Child Psychoanalysis in Montreal, followed by a 4 year Postdoctoral Fellow appointment in Social Medicine at Harvard Medical School, a 2 year Research Fellow appointment at the Harvard Center for Middle Eastern Studies, and clinical training in Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy at the Boston Institute for Psychotherapy. Dr. Rahimi’s main research focus on culture, subjectivity and mental illnesses has led to two main lines of research, on political subjectivity and on policy development. His current research includes a project on shifting political subjectivity in post-revolutionary Iran, a study of the dynamics and challenges of integration for the Muslim community in Canada, and an ongoing research project on needs assessment and policy recommendations for development of culturally competent mental health services in Saskatchewan, Canada.

Eugene Raikhel is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Comparative Human Development at the University of Chicago. He received his PhD in anthropology from Princeton University in 2006, and from 2007 to 2010 held a postdoctoral fellowship in the CIHR Strategic Training Program in Culture and Mental Health Services Research in the Division of Social and Transcultural Psychiatry at McGill University. His research interests include the anthropology of science, biomedicine and psychiatry; culture and mental health; addiction and its treatment; as well as the embodied and symbolic grounds of healing and clinical efficacy. He is currently completing a book—Governing Habits: Addiction and the Therapeutic Market in Contemporary Russia—which examines the political-economic, epidemiological and clinical changes that have transformed the knowledge and medical management of alcoholism and addiction in Russia over the past twenty years.

Thurka Sangaramoorthy is an Assistant Professor of Anthropology at the University of Maryland, College Park. She is a medical anthropologist who studies the relationships between the everyday lived experiences of individuals and communities and the biopolitics of global health institutions, neoliberal health policies, and enumerative practices. Her research and teaching interests are in the areas of medical anthropology, science and technology studies, anthropology of medicine, global public health, HIV/AIDS, critical race theory, and citizenship. Currently, she is completing a book manuscript with Rutgers based on her research chronicling how medical, epidemiological, and social constructions of HIV/AIDS link pathology to racial, ethnic, and immigrant identities at a time when critical debates over race, ethnicity, and nation continue to gain traction in academic and public spheres. She received her PhD in medical anthropology from UCSF/UC Berkeley and her MPH from Columbia University.

Aaron Seaman is a PhD candidate in the Department of Comparative Human Development at the University of Chicago. His dissertation research focuses on the production, cultivation and enactment of caregiving expertise among people with dementia, their family caregivers, and the biomedical community with whom they interact.

Lily Shapiro is a graduate student in Sociocultural Anthropology at the University of Washington, Seattle with a focus on medical anthropology and South Asian Studies. Her research concerns factory accidents and reconstructive plastic surgery in South India; through this lens she is interested in exploring the body, occupational health, labor, and the globalization of medical expertise and technologies.

Matthew Wolf-Meyer is an Assistant Professor of Anthropology at the University of California, Santa Cruz. He received his Ph.D. from the Department of Anthropology at the University of Minnesota, specializing in medical anthropology and the social study of science and technology. He is author of the forthcoming book The Slumbering Masses: Sleep, Integral Medicine and the Formation of American Everyday Life (UMN Press 2012), which focuses on sleep in American culture and its historical and contemporary relations to capitalism. Hi second book, What Matters: The Politics of American Brains, focuses on the ethical and epistemological practices in contemporary neuroscience, cybernetics, autism activism, and psychoanalysis in American society, centered on the case of severe autism. Currently he is in the early stage of a new project focused on the history of cancer exposure in the United States and its relationship to epidemiology as a postcolonial technology of governance as a means to explore growth and decay in American society.

Anna Zogas is a PhD candidate in the Department of Anthropology at the University of Washington. Her dissertation research is about how medical uncertainty and disability compensation practices intersect to shape the phenomenon of mild traumatic brain injury (TBI) in the US military healthcare system and the Department of Veterans Affairs.


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