Associate Professor of Anthropology and of Social Sciences in the College

PhD, McGill University, 2004

Core Faculty Member, The Stevanovich Institute on the Formation of Knowledge 

Affiliated Faculty, Center for the Study of Gender and Sexuality, Center for the Study of Race, Culture, and Politics, and Center for Latin America Studies 

Anthropology of medicine, science, technology, and the body; social theory; subjectivity and health; humanitarianism; postcoloniality; governmentality; statecraft; theories of post-/socialism; psychoanalysis/psychological anthropology; Latin America and the Caribbean.

Broadly, my research and teaching interests are concerned with the critical study of health, medicine, the state, subjectivity, psychoanalysis, and the body. My theoretical references draw on contemporary social theory and postcolonial studies.

Over the past decade, my overarching research questions have sought to weave together historical, epistemological, and ethnographic modes of analysis into a theoretical approach that I call a genealogy of individual bodily practices. Within this framework, I examine the sometimes contradictory and overlapping relationships among the individual practices of everyday citizens, economic reform, and state power. This approach can help to unravel the multiple historical layers that contribute to bodily formations, both culturally and materially, and allow us to examine the lived experience of bodies critically. My first book, Revolutionary Medicine: Health and the Body in Post-Soviet Cuba (Duke University Press, 2012), employs this analytical lens to analyze how different sociopolitical fields create and transform political subjectivities. It urges scholars to delve into the nebulous field of embodiment, asking pointed questions about how subjects respond, enact, and rearticulate ideological assumptions in their everyday practices.

I am currently finishing up a book manuscript, Humanitarianism Under Erasure: Cuba and the Politics of Global Health. This book is grounded in an ethnographic examination of the seemingly “absent-presence” of Cuba’s medical humanitarian efforts in the global health arena. I critically explore the paradox of how a small, resource-poor nation such as Cuba has become a leading figure, if not most prominent actor, in delivering “humanitarian biomedicine” to the world’s underserved populations. For Cuban officials, the necessity to assist is not solely dictated by need, as defined by the Western humanitarian imperative, but a duty based on a political commitment to equality and social justice. The country’s tactical efforts to mobilize biomedical expertise, as a war on structural violence, unsettle traditional geopolitical understandings of donor-recipient relations. For instance, Cuba’s humanitarian imperative in action disrupts the singular focus of North-South binaries, which, ultimately, play into the dominant logics of global health and capital flows, thereby eliding other histories, political formations, experiences, and systems of knowledge production.

Another ongoing project, Armed Against Unhappiness: Psychoanalytic Grammars in Buenos Aires, explores how psychoanalysis has produced an ensemble of institutions, expertise, procedures, and practices. Through this, psychic life has become legible and an actionable site of intervention, dislocation, and struggle. I examine how diverse psychoanalytic communities in Buenos Aires have produced unique grammars that influence how individuals articulate ideas about health and well-being. Through detailed case studies, I flesh out how these grammars, as deictic expressions of/for the unconscious, are deployed, reworked, and embodied in everyday interactions. I highlight how social and political experiences enmesh psychic life.

For access to my publications, see my profile. 

Contact Information

Office: Haskell 227
Phone: (773) 702-7724

Selected Publications

Humanitarianism Under Erasure: Cuba and the Politics of Global Health (writing in progress)

Armed Against Unhappiness: Psychoanalytic Grammars in Buenos Aires. Medical Anthropology Quarterly 34(1): 99-118, 2020

Hot Spots, Special Issue (Guest Editor): Cuba as Dreamworld and Catastrophe. Cultural Anthropology, March 23, 2017.

Psychoanalysis in Buenos Aires. In The Routledge Handbook of Medical Anthropology. Eds. Lenore Manderson, Elizabeth Cartwright, and Anita Hardon. London: Routledge.

Revisiting Local Biology in the Era of Global Health. Brotherton, P. Sean and Vinh-Kim Nguyen. In Medical Anthropology: Cross-Cultural Studies in Health and Illness 32(4): 287-290.

"Fueling la Revolucion: Itinerant Physicians, Transactional Humanitarianism, and Shifting Moral Economies," In Nancy Burke, ed., Health Travels: Cuban Health(Care) on the Island and Around the World. University of Calfiornia Press, pp. 127-151.

"A Genealogy of Bodily Practices in Post-Soviet Cuba," In Naomi Adelson, Leslie Butt, and Karina Kielman, eds., Troubling Natural Categories: Essays in Honor of Margaret Lock. McGill-Queen's University Press, pp. 16-32.

Revolutionary Medicine: Health and the Body in Post-Soviet Cuba. Duke University Press.

P. Sean Brotherton's book "Revolutionary Medicine"

"Health and Health Care in Cuba: History after the Revolution: Key Phases and Overviews of Health Development," In Alan West-Duran, ed., Cuba: People, Culture, and History. NY: Charles Scribner's Sons, pp. 478-485.

"'We have to think like capitalists but continue being socialists': Medicalized Subjectivities, Emergent Capital, and Socialist Entrepreneurs in Post-Soviet Cuba," American Ethnolologist, 35(2): 259-274.

"Macroeconomic Change and the Biopolitics of Health in Cuba's Special Period," Journal of Latin American and Caribbean Anthropology, 10(2): 339-369.