Thurka Sangaramoorthy

Assistant Professor

I am a cultural anthropologist with specialization in medical anthropology and epidemiology. My research and teaching interests include global health and development, infectious disease epidemics, social studies of science, health policy and governance, and critical studies of racialization. My work broadly is concerned with linking theories and forms of subjectivity with economies and practices of care and governance. I have worked at this intersection on diverse topics, including HIV, immigrant health, and environmental risk in various contexts including the United States, Latin America and the Caribbean, and Africa.

My first book, Treating AIDS: Politics of Difference, Paradox of Prevention (Rutgers University Press, 2014), focuses on the broader biopolitics of HIV prevention among Haitians, a transnational immigrant community long plagued by the stigma of being AIDS carriers. Utilizing approaches from medical anthropology, epidemiology, and critical race theory, the book highlights how public health policy and governance fuse notions of HIV pathology with racial and cultural differences while also documenting how Haitians, in the face of social, political and economic marginalization, use HIV as a platform to assert social membership and citizenship claims.

I am currently working on two book projects:

(1) The first is based on long-term ethnographic work on how political and legal notions of entitlement and access become understood and reconstituted within a moral economy that recognizes some immigrants on Maryland’s rural Eastern Shore as deserving of care and others as not.

(2) The second is focused on the principles, methods, and case studies of rapid ethnographic assessments—a qualitative method of data collection used to quickly assess a variety of complex public health issues, informing programmatic needs.

Areas of Interest:
  • Cultural and Medical Anthropology
  • Global Health and Development
  • Health Policy and Governance
  • Social Studies of Science
  • Critical Studies of Racialization
  • BA Barnard College, Columbia University 1998
  • MPH Columbia University, 2002
  • PhD University of California, San Francisco and Berkeley, 2008

I am dedicated to providing students with robust opportunities to understand and practically apply anthropological thinking to the most pressing health issues of today. As a result, I have taken a leadership role since 2012 in creating several courses and a distinct track for undergraduate and graduate students interested in gaining a strong theoretical foundation in medical anthropology and instruction in empirical analysis of global health-related issues. I teach courses in cultural and medical anthropology, global health, science studies, and research methodologies.

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

I am presently engaged in research projects that study issues of chronicity, aging, and HIV, particularly among African American and Black immigrant women; explore the material and moral effects of recent health and immigration policies on immigrant mental health and well-being; and examine the social life of environmental health policies around cumulative risk. Because I am interested in working jointly with those outside my field to create new integrative conceptual, theoretical, methodological, and translational approaches—ones that move beyond traditional disciplinary boundaries—to address a common problem, these projects are both interdisciplinary and collaborative, and include scholars from anthropology, environmental health, and epidemiology.

Recent publications have focused on the work referenced above. I also write on issues of social inequality for public audiences. These include recent commentaries in Savage Minds, The Conversation, The Chronicle of Higher Education, Medium, and Sapiens.

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  • Thurka Sangaramoorthy
0113A Woods Hall
Department of Anthropology
Phone: (301) 405-1437