UCONN anthropology graduate student, Olivia Marcus, is a 2017 recipient of the Fulbright-Hays Doctoral Dissertation Research Abroad grant. This grant allows her to conduct her doctoral dissertation research entitled Ayahuasca -Assisted Therapies for Mental Health in the Peruvian Amazon. This grant will support research in several locations of Peru’s Amazon to investigate uses of Ayahuasca shamanism and western psychotherapy for mental well-being. This investigation addresses the professionalization and medicalization of practitioners of traditional Amazonian plant medicine, with attention to how the rising presence of western-trained therapists in Peru affects local regimes of care. Insights into these relationships will shed light on how culturally-specific mental health treatments become globalized and will provide critical commentary on emergent alternative treatments to problems in global mental health.
Sarah S. Willen, an associate professor of anthropology at the University of Connecticut, has been awarded a $699,960 grant from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation to study how Americans of diverse socioeconomic, professional, and racial/ethnic backgrounds think about equity and deservingness in the health domain.
Willen, together with co-investigators Colleen Walsh, an assistant professor of health sciences at Cleveland State University in Cleveland, Ohio, and Abigail Fisher Williamson, an assistant professor of political science and public policy & law at Trinity College in Hartford, Connecticut, received the grant to support a two-phase study they will launch this October.
The researchers plan to investigate how Americans think about a question that plays a “pivotal but largely implicit role in American public discourse about society’s obligations to its members” – the question of “who deserves what in the health domain, and why.”
“Often we hear health researchers and folks in public health say things like, ‘everyone deserves to live the healthiest possible life,’” Willen said. “That’s a bold statement, and we don’t know whether it’s supported by all Americans. In fact, it’s possible some see things quite differently. Our goal is to develop a better understanding of how people’s moral values and personal experiences influence their views, and their actions.”
In the first study phase, the research team will engage residents of Ohio’s Greater Cleveland area using interviews and ethnographic methods. In the second phase, they will test their qualitative findings in a national survey.
The study will also draw on the expertise of researchers at Brown University, Case Western Reserve University School of Law, Cleveland State University, Syracuse University, the University of South Florida, and the Sisters of Charity Foundation. A key partner in the study’s first phase is HIP-Cuyahoga (Health Improvement Partnership-Cuyahoga), a county-wide initiative in Greater Cleveland.
The project will run from October 2017 until October 2019.
About the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation
For more than 40 years the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation has worked to improve the health and health care of all Americans. We are striving to build a national Culture of Health that will enable all Americans to live longer, healthier lives now and for generations to come. For more information, visit www.rwjf.org. Follow the Foundation on Twitter at www.rwjf.org/twitter or on Facebook at www.rwjf.org/facebook.
Congratulations to our very own Jennifer Cook, who has accepted a 2-year Postdoctoral Fellowship at the Tower Center for Political Studies at Southern Methodist University in Dallas! The Center is focused on immigration policy and public policy impacting Latinos. She will be working on publishing work from her dissertation, teaching for the Anthropology Department, and working closely with a Dallas-based NGO, the Latino Center for Leadership Development, which is working to create a “pipeline of leaders” equipped to address the rapid growth of the Latino population in the US.
Congratulations again to our doctoral student Anne Kohler, who was also awarded a grant from the Ruth Landes Memorial Research Fund for her dissertation research! Best of luck on your dissertation fieldwork!
Congratulations to José Enrique Hasemann, a Ph.D. student in the Department of Anthropology at UCONN, for receiving an Inter-American Foundation Grassroots Development Field Research Fellowship! José’s project will investigate prevention practices for the Aedes aegypti mosquito in Tegucigalpa, Honduras where the vector is associated with the spread of dengue, Zika, and chikungunya. Formative research in low-income neighborhoods in Honduras indicates that public health programs targeting mosquito-borne diseases focus on perceived inherent characteristics of target populations and implicitly tend to blame the affected populations for the spread of disease. This study will examine 1) local perceptions of mosquito-borne disease; 2) discourse of public health interventions for mosquito-borne diseases; 3) residents’ views of intervention programs and local conditions of life; 4) interactions between public health agents and local populations. This study will provide insight into how individuals affected by the Ae. aegypti vector make sense of the conditions that predispose them to infection and incorporate prevention messages into their daily lives. The anthropological focus of this research will contribute to integrated vector management approaches and new ways of understanding how individuals think about their health and their lives in relation to vector-borne disease throughout the year, when epidemics are not taking place and public health surveillance is minimal.
Anne Kohler, a PhD candidate in the Department of Anthropology at UCONN, has been awarded a prestigious dissertation research grant from the National Science Foundation’s Cultural Anthropology Program. Kohler’s doctoral research, which is anchored in the Down Syndrome Program of a major hospital in the Northeastern U.S., investigates the moral lives of people with intellectual disability including, in particular, their experiences of health, clinical encounters, and care. In addition to her own NSF-funded ethnographic research, Kohler will also collaborate with researchers at Harvard Medical School and Simpson College to design and implement a national survey of Down Syndrome, health inequities, and healthcare access. Many congratulations, Anne!
UCONN’s Humanities Institute website has featured Dr. Sarah Willen’s research. Dr. Willen, a former fellow of the Humanities Institute, is an Assistant Professor of Anthropology and the Director of the Research Program on Global Health and Human Rights at the Human Rights Institute. Her research, which was partially supported by the Humanities Institute, focuses on health inequity and “health-related deservingness.” Click here for the full text of the featured article.
Dr. Bayla Ostrach (UCONN 2014) will be giving a talk on her new book, Healthy Policy in a Time of Crisis: Abortion, Austerity, and Access on Saturday, April 22nd at 5PM at the UConn Barnes and Nobles at Storrs Center. See the flyer below for more information. Bayla Ostrach is currently an Assistant Professor of Family Medicine at Boston University’s School of Medicine.
Dr. Merrill Singer, professor of anthropology at UCONN, has partnered with Family Life Education to study the impact of climate change on low-income residents of Hartford and their awareness and understanding of climate change. The study, which was recently published in the journal Medical Anthropology, has been featured on UCONN Today.
UCONN anthropology professors Sarah Willen and Cesar Abadio-Barrero organized three panels at the 2016 Annual Meeting of the American Anthropological Association in Minneapolis on the intersection of anthropology, health, and human rights. For more information on these panels, including the panel abstracts please click here.