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Emma Bunkley

About Emma Bunkley

Ph.D. Candidate in Biocultural Anthropology

Medical Anthropology Focus


Broadly, I am interested in the relationship between social experience and embodiment. My dissertation project examines Senegalese women’s experiences of health and disease to better understand complex changing social networks in the face of noncommunicable/chronic illness and renegotiations of identity. Blending a background in political science with sociocultural anthropological studies, I look at both top-down structures, such as national level statistics and health systems, alongside daily experiences of women in and out of various biomedical and traditional health institutions. Thinking critically about the “epidemiological transition,” my work problematizes the idea that sub-Saharan Africa is moving away from infectious and towards noncommunicable disease, but rather will always experience a co-existence of these two categories. I also seek to challenge the conflation of “women’s health” with reproduction by highlighting the often-overlooked gendered aspects of chronic illness in both clinical settings and in public health.

National Fellowships

  • Fulbright IIE 2018 – 2019
  • National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellow 2015 – 2020

University Fellowships and Awards

  • School of Anthropology Haury Dissertation Writing Fellowship 2020 - 2021
  • Social and Behavioral Science Research Institute Dissertation Grant 2018 
  • Graduate and Professional Student Council Research and Project Grant 2017
  • Graduate and Professional Student Council Travel Grant 2016, 2017, 2019, 2020
  • School of Anthropology William and Nancy Sullivan Award 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2020
  • School of Anthropology Traditions, Transitions, and Treasures Award 2016
  • School of Anthropology Cacioppo Award 2015, 2016
  • Paul D. Coverdell Peace Corps Fellow 2014 – 2015


Teaching Assistant

  • Practicing Medicine: Health Care, Culture, and Careers, Cornell University, NY, NY, Summer 2019
  • World Archaeology, University of Arizona, Fall 2017
  • Human Evolution, University of Arizona, Spring 2015
  • Natural History of our Closest Relatives, University of Arizona, Fall 2014

Courses Taught

Women's Health in Global Perspective, University of Arizona, Summer 2020

Areas of Study

Medical anthropology, biocultural anthropology, public and global health, history of medicine, gender and feminist theory


Research Assistant

Three summers (2015, 2016, 2018) of intensive fieldwork in northern Kenya as research assistant to my primary advisor Dr. Ivy Pike’s National Science Foundation project: Vulnerable Transitions in Northern Kenya: Cumulative Embodied Stress Among Teens in High-Risk, High Stakes Pastoralism, exploring the intersections of violence and health, specifically investigating how Turkana and Pokot pastoralist youth imagine the shape of their futures.  

Research Specialist

From 2016 to 2017, I worked for the University of Arizona College of Medicine Department of Infectious Diseases investigating barriers to refugee ability to access HIV care in the Tucson area.


Research Interests

Anthropology of health, illness, disease, and sickness; chronicity; infectious and noncommunicable disease; Senegal, West Africa and former French colonial West Africa; anthropology of the body; social epidemiology; women’s health (outside the areas of maternal and reproductive health); visual ethnography; public health; global health; colonial archival research; necropolitics and biopolitics; theories of dignity and resilience; gender and feminist theory; ethnographic methodologies; structural violence and vulnerability

Emma Bunkley's picture

Contact Information


M.A. Political Science - The New School for Social Research (2010)

B.A. International Affairs - Northern Arizona University (2007)