Mark Nichter

Regents' Professor Emeritus
Professor Emeritus of Anthropology, Public Health, Family Medicine

About Mark Nichter

I am a sociocultural anthropologist who specializes in medical anthropology and has considerable field experience in Global Health, health disparities, and ethnomedicine broadly defined. I have conducted research on a wide range of topics from child survival and reproductive health to emerging zoonotic and vector born diseases, and from mental health and chronic illness to pharmaceutical practice, tobacco control, and health systems and policy research. As an engaged anthropologist I have spent much of my life demonstrating how anthropology can contribute to real world problem solving through a multi-stage process of formative research. As a social theorist I study illness and healing as entry points for understanding identity projects, gender roles, the politics of responsibility, citizenship, biopolitics, biocommunicability, trust, and so much more. I have conducted research in South India as well as Sri Lanka and The Philippines, and have served in a support role for projects in Indonesia, Thailand, West Africa, Turkey, and Latin America. Aside from anthropology, I have postdoctoral training in Public Health and Psychiatry. To be a scholar activist requires a fair amount of reflexivity and involves many personal and professional challenges. On a lighter note, things that bring me joy are my family and friends, clear thought and glassy waves, harmony within non-linear and fluid  complexity of coral reefs, poetry in motion, musical expression, and the aesthetics of everyday life.

View Dr. Nichter's complete CV here.

Watch Dr. Nichter's video Pathways to Health on the Anthropology Videos page.


The University of Arizona School of Anthropology is home to Project Quit Tobacco International (QTI), a transnational and transdisciplinary research and training collaboration dedicated to developing clinic and community-based tobacco cessation research capacity in India and Indonesia, two of the three countries with the largest number of tobacco users in the world. Project QTI finished its twelfth year and second cycle of funding from the National Institutes of Health, Fogarty International Center (FIC) in August 2014. It developed innovative tobacco cessation training programs in medical colleges, introduced cessation programs in clinic and community settings, promoted a community-based smoke free home movement, and helped establish a tobacco cessation community of practice. Lessons learned from and cessation materials developed in these two countries are posted on the QTI web site and visited regularly visited by researchers and community activists from all over the world. One aim of the project is to help initiate a global tobacco cessation community of practice that encourages both South : South and North : South dialogue and the free exchange of research experiences by those actively involved in teaching and delivering cessation services. Professors Mark Nichter and Mimi Nichter from the School of Anthropology are the Co-PIs of Project QTI. In December 2014, QTI will initiate research and training activities in Turkey thanks to the support of a Global Bridges grant from the Mao Clinic. Learn more about QTI here.

I am a member of the National Advisory Committee (NAC) of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Health & Society Scholars program. The Health & Society Scholars program seeks to improve the nation’s health by addressing the full spectrum of factors that affect health and creating the evidence to inform policy in multiple sectors that can promote health. The program trains scholars to investigate the effects of contextual factors on behavior and biology in order to strengthen the knowledge base supporting population-wide interventions. To that end, the NAC, which consists of distinguished representatives from academia, government agencies and public policy, guides program policy, reviews scholar applications, participates in annual meetings and assists in monitoring site performance. Learn more about the program here.

I am also a Project Consultant for the Fight Pneumonia: Save Your Child project in India. This one year project was conducted in 14 districts in rural Uttar Pradesh and Bihar starting in September 2013, with an objective of averting deaths of children under five years by creating awareness in the community. The project was funded by Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. Learn more here.

Selected Publications

Recent Books

Global Health: Why Cultural Perceptions, Social Representations, and Biopolitics Matter. University of Arizona press. Spring 2008 (reprinted three times).

Recent artices (out of 150 - see CV)

[Ahlin, T., Nichter, M., & Pillai, G.] Health insurance in India: what do we know and why is ethnographic research needed. Anthropology & medicine, 1-23. 2016.

[Nichter, Mark.] Comorbidity: Reconsidering the Unit of Analysis. Medical Anthropology Quarterly 30.4: 536 544. 2016.

[Amoussouhoui, Arnaud Setondji, Roch Christian Johnson, Ghislain Emmanuel Sopoh, Ines Elvire Agbo, Paulin Aoulou, Jean-Gabin Houezo, Albert Tingbe-Azalou, Micah Boyer, and Mark Nichter.] Steps Toward Creating A Therapeutic Community for Inpatients Suffering from Chronic Ulcers: Lessons from Allada Buruli Ulcer Treatment Hospital in Benin. PLoS Negl Trop Dis 10.7: e0004602. 2016.

[Jennifer Jo Thompson, and Mark Nichter]. Is there a Role for Complementary and Alternative Medicine in Preventive and Promotive Health? An Anthropological Assessment in the Context of U.S Health Reform. Medical Anthropology Quarterly. 1: 80-89. 2016.

[Jagadisha Thirthalli, Liang Zhou, Kishore Kumar, Jie Gao, Henna Vaid, Huiming Liu, Alex Hankey, Guojun Wang, Bangalore N Gagadhar, Jing-Bao Nie, Mark Nichter]Traditional, complementary, and alternative medicine approaches to mental health care and psychological wellbeing in India and China. The Lancet Psychiatry. 2016.

[Mark Nichter, Siwi Padmawati, Nawi Ng] Introducing smoking cessation to Indonesian males treated for Tuberculosis: results of a pilot study and the challenge of low-moderate level smoking. Social Science and Medicine. 152: 70-79. 2016.

[Guari Patha, Mark Nichter]. Polycystic ovary syndrome in globalizing India: An ecosocial perspective on an emerging lifestyle disease. Social Science & Medicine. 146:21-28. 2015.

[Dao, Amy, and Mark Nichter]. The Social Life of Health Insurance in Low‐to Middle‐income Countries: An Anthropological Research Agenda." Medical anthropology quarterly. DOI: 10.1111/maq.12191. 2015.

[Eaves, Emery R., Mark Nichter, and Cheryl Ritenbaugh]. Ways of Hoping: Navigating the Paradox of Hope and Despair in Chronic Pain. Culture, Medicine, and Psychiatry 1-24. 2015.

[Awasthi, Shally, Mark Nichter, Tuhina Verma, Neeraj Mohan Srivastava, Monica Agarwal, Jai Vir Singh, and CAP-Lucknow Team.] Revisiting Community Case Management of Childhood Pneumonia: Perceptions of Caregivers and Grass Root Health Providers in Uttar Pradesh and Bihar, Northern India. PLOS ONE DOI:10.1371/journal.pone.0123135. 2015.

[K.R Thankappan, G.K. Mini, M. Hariharan, G, Vijayakumar, P. S. Sarma and Mark Nichter]. Smoking Cessation Among Diabetic Patients in Kerala, India: 1-Year Follow-up Results from a Pilot Randomized Controlled Trial. Diabetes Care. 2014.

[Megan Prescott and Mark Nichter]. Transnational nurse migration: future directions for anthropological research. Social Science & Medicine. Social Science & Medicine 107: 113–123, 2014.

Mark Nichter. The Rise and Transformation of Evidence-Based Medicine. In E. Liebow, V.R. Dominguez, P.N. Peregrine, T.L. McCarty, Mark Nichter, B. Nardi, and J. Leeman, On Evidence and the Public Interest. American Anthropologist 115(4): 642–655, 2013.

[Kim Kelly and Mark Nichter]. The politics of local biology in transnational drug testing: creating (bio)identities and reproducing (bio)nationalism through Japanese “Ethno-bridging” studies. East Asian Science, Technology and Society: An International Journal 6(3): 379–399, 2012.

[Priscilla Magrath and Mark Nichter]. Paying for performance and the social relations of health care provision: an anthropological perspective. Social Science & Medicine 75(10):1778–1785, 2012.

Mark Nichter. Idioms of Distress Revisited. Culture, Medicine and Psychiatry, 34(2): 401–416, 2010.

Courses Taught

Culture and the Individual 

Anthropology of the Body , Health and Illness

Global Health and Anthropology

Medical Anthropology in Clinical and Community Contexts


Global Health and develoipment  (for undergraduates)

Research Methods 

Areas of Study

Southwest US

South Asia : India and Sri Lanka

Southeast Asia: Indonesia, Phillipines, Thailand 

West Africa; Benin, Cameroon, Ghana 


Optimus and Anesvad Foundations,  Community based wound care management in Benin and Cote d'Ivoire  2016-2019, $ 900,000

Global Bridges (Mayo Clinic), Building Capacity for Illness-Specific Tobacco Cessation among Nurses and Clinical Psychologists in Turkey, 2014–2016 [$200,000]

Optimus Foundation (UBS Bank), Social Science Support for Buruli Ulcer Research in Benin, The Cameroon, and Ghana (Research Support), 2012–2015  $900,000

NIH/NCI Tobacco Cessation Training for acupuncture, massage, and chiropractic practitioners,  R01 CA137375-01AI (Myra Muramoto, PI; Mark Nichter, Co-Investigator), 2009–2014 [$3,141,019]

Fogarty International (NIH) Award, Building Capacity of Tobacco Cessation in India and Indonesia.  2007–2012. [PI] [$1,505,900].

NIH/National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine, Arizona Complementary and Anlternative Medicine Research Training Program (ACAMRTP). Iris Bell. 2007–2012. [Core Mentor] [$1,936,774].

Research Interests

I have broad research interests in the topical areas of: Anthropology of health and development; medical anthropology; the interface between anthropology and epidemiology; ecosocial epidemiology and political ecology; zoonotic disease and pandemic response; ethnomedicine and approaches to healing inclusive of alternative and complementary medicine in the USA; medical anthropology in clinical settings; health disparity and the politics of responsibility; globalization; the marketing of desire; governance projects and processes; the study of risk, harm reduction, and trust.

I have research interests in the following ethnographic regions: South Asia, especially South India; Southeast Asia, especially Indonesia, the Philippines, and N.E. Thailand; West Africa, especially Benin and Cameroon; and the USA.

My current research involves: multilevel ethnographic study of pharmaceutical and diagnostic test related behavior; emerging and neglected diseases; tobacco use, dependence, and marketing; the outsourcing of clinical trials to developing countries; and health systems research and health insurance in LMIC.