Dr. Matthew Thomann is a cultural and critical medical anthropologist whose research examines sexuality and the politics of health in sub-Saharan Africa and the United States, crossing subfields of medical anthropology, global health, and queer anthropology. Since 2010, he has conducted ethnographic research in Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire, exploring how sexual and gender minorities encounter their inclusion in global health policy amidst widely-circulating human rights discourse that frames exclusion as the defining feature of queer African life. Dr. Thomann shows how the resulting entanglements form queer counterpublics that both undermine and solidify existing forms of social inequality. His research has also explored the emergence of novel HIV prevention strategies and metrics in global AIDS policy, including pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) in the United States and HIV self-testing technologies in Kenya, and how they are interpreted by sexual and gender minority communities. This work highlights the ways in which new prevention logics are discursively tied to an “end of AIDS” narrative and work to produce new health socialities.

Beginning in January of 2022, with the support of a US Fulbright Scholar award (African Regional Research Program), Dr. Thomann will conduct ethnographic research to document the current landscape of care available to sexual and gender minorities living with advanced cases of anal warts and cancers caused by the human papillomavirus (HPV) in Nairobi, Kenya. The research will highlight participants' narratives of treatment encounters, suffering, and the affective impact of complicated anal warts on livelihood, maintaining vital social networks, and sexual intimacy. In addition to generating anthropological knowledge and developing an evidence base that community leaders can use to bolster their efforts to confront this emerging health crisis, this project responds to the global health alarm over emerging cancer epidemics in African contexts hardest hit by the HIV epidemic.

Dr. Thomann’s research has been funded by the Fulbright Scholar Program, the National Institute of Minority Health and Health Disparities, the West African Research Association, a National Institute of Allergies and Infectious Disease (NIAID)-training grant, and the Marcus W. Orr Center for the Humanities and the College of Arts and Sciences at the University of Memphis. Prior to coming to UMD, he held the positions of Assistant Professor at the University of Memphis, Visiting Assistant Professor of Anthropology at Kalamazoo College, and Postdoctoral Fellow in Global HIV Implementation Science Research at Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health. He has consulted on interdisciplinary, mixed-methods research projects with the Centre for Global Public Health at the University of Manitoba, MPact Global Action for Gay Men’s Health and Rights (formerly MSMGF), and the Institute for Sexual and Gender Minority Health and Well Being (ISGMH) at Northwestern University.

Dr. Thomann joined the Department of Anthropology in 2020 as an Assistant Professor. He received his Ph.D. in Anthropology from American University (2014), his M.S. in Teaching from Pace University (2009), and his B.A. in Anthropology and French, from DePaul University (2007). 

Areas of Interest

  • critical medical anthropology; queer anthropology; anthropology of violence; sexual and gender minority health; HIV/AIDS; biomedicine/medicalization; citizenship/belonging; subjectivity and vulnerability; global health policy and implementation
  • ethnographic and interdisciplinary, mixed-methods research
  • United States, Côte d’Ivoire, Kenya


  • Degree Type
    PhD, 2014
    Degree Details
  • Degree Type
    MS, 2009
    Degree Details
  • Degree Type
    BA, 2007
    Degree Details
    Anthropology & French
2101D Woods Hall
Department of Anthropology
mthomann [at] umd.edu