Thurka Sangaramoorthy

Assistant Professor

Trained in medical anthropology and epidemiology, I am committed to improving the health and well-being of underserved communities and this committment forms the foundation of my research agenda. My novel research program examines the complex relations between health care policy and practices and the everyday lived experiences of underserved individuals and communities. Integrating theories and innovative methodological approaches from anthropology and global public health, I strive to understand the ways in which broader structural and social processes impact community health and health care systems. I am leading studies to optimize health outcomes and access to quality and affordable health care for underserved communities particularly around HIV and sexually transmitted infections (HIV/STI). Through this work on improving access to care and health outcomes, I am developing new anthropological theories of public health policy and governance and advancing the use of unique mixed methods in both ethnographic studies and public health assessments.

Much of my scholarship has focused on the social and cultural context of acute disparities in sexual health outcomes more broadly, and HIV/STD rates in particular, among underserved Black, immigrant, and rural communities. Working with the same underserved communities, I am expanding my research agenda beyond HIV/STI to understand how racial and ethnic discrimination, precarious immigration status, economic and political marginalization, and environmental changes impact health outcomes and access to care more broadly.

My work has resulted in several publications including a book monograph, Treating AIDS: Politics of Difference, Paradox of Prevention, published by Rutgers University Press in 2014 and peer-reviewed journal articles. My research has been funded through multi-year grants from the University of Maryland, the National Institutes of Health, the Association of Prevention Teaching and Research, the Oak Ridge Institute for Science and Education, the Foreign Language and Area Studies Program, and the University of California at San Francisco.

My current research portfolio includes three projects: (1) assessment of health impacts of fracking in the State of Maryland; (2) HIV-related stimga among older Black women in Prince George's County, Maryland; and (3) migrant health on Maryland's Eastern Shore.

My research and teaching interests are broad and include medical anthropology, science and technology studies, anthropology of medicine, global public health, HIV/AIDS, critical race theory, and citizenship. I also teach research methodologies, particularly in the area of mixed methods and ethnography to a variety of audiences. I have extensive work experience in the international non-profit sector, state and local health departments, academic institutions and governmental agencies. Before coming to the University of Maryland, I spent several years at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) conducting qualitative and ethnographic research in HIV/STI prevention and outbreaks, designing  a toolkit for rapid ethnographic assessments to address community and structural factors contributing to high rates of HIV/STI, and analyzing public health policies related to health equity and social determinants of health.

I also write on issues of social inequality for public audiences. These include recent commentaries in Savage Minds, The Chronicle of Higher Education, Medium, and Sapiens.


Areas of Interest:
  • HIV/AIDS, social and medical constructions of risk, health disparities, global public health; transnationalism, immigration, citizenship, governmentality, structural violence, race and ethnicity; science and technology studies.
  • BA Anthropology, Barnard College, Columbia University 1998
  • MPH Sociomedical Sciences Research, Columbia University, 2002
  • PhD Medical Anthropology, University of California, San Francisco and Berkeley, 2008
Course Name Course Title Semester Syllabus
ANTH260 Introduction to Sociocultural Anthropology and Linguistics Fall 2017 Syllabus
ANTH265 Anthropology of Global Health Spring 2017 Syllabus
ANTH665 Method & Theory in Medical Anthropology and Global Health Spring 2017 Syllabus
ANTH310 Method & Theory in Medical Anthropology & Global Health Spring 2017 Syllabus
ANTH260 Introduction to Sociocultural Anthropology and Linguistics Fall 2016 Syllabus
ANTH606 Qualitative Methods in Applied Anthropology Fall 2016 Syllabus
ANTH265 Anthropology of Global Health Spring 2016 Syllabus
Related Students (Listed by Student on Student's Profile)
  • Thurka Sangaramoorthy
0123B Woods Hall
Department of Anthropology
Phone: (301) 405-1437