Associate Professor of Anthropology and of Social Sciences in the College
PhD, McGill University, 2004
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.
I am a cultural anthropologist whose 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. I argue that this type of approach can help to unravel the multiple historical layers that contribute to bodily formations, both culturally and materially, and allow us to examine critically the lived experience of bodies. 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 working on two lines of research that build on my broader interests regarding medicine, morality, and power. The first project, The Socialist Humanitarian Imperative: The Logic and Practice of Cuba’s Quest for Global Health in the Americas, for which I have carried out the research and am now currently writing up, is an ethnographic account of Cuba’s recent export of medical doctors throughout the world (Venezuela, Brazil, Bolivia, etc.) in exchange for hard currency. This project explores how a small, resource-poor nation such as Cuba has become a leading figure in delivering “humanitarian biomedicine” to, as Cuban officials note, the “world’s poor.” On the surface, the socialist humanitarian project eschews traditional binaries of capital flow from the North to the South. But, the question remains: Is there another logic at work here? Over the next several years, my second project, Talk Therapy: Trauma, Memory, and the Body in Psychoanalytic Culture in Buenos Aires, currently in the fieldwork stage, will allow me to return to several larger theoretical questions that have animated my thinking over the years concerning the entanglement of embodiment, power, and subject-formation, along with the relationship between scientific knowledge, therapeutic systems, and society.
"Cuba as Dreamworld and Catastrophe" In Hot Spots, Cultural Anthropology website, March 23, 2017.
The Socialist Humanitarian Imperative: The Logic and Practice of Cuba's Quest for Global Health in the Americas. Manuscript in progress.
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.
"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.