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Mimi Nichter

About Mimi Nichter

I am a sociocultural anthropologist whose research focuses in the area of medical anthropology. I have long standing interests in health and development both in the United States as well as in South and Southeast Asia. I have an extensive background working in maternal and child health and women's reproductive health and have conducted research in and served as a consultant in India, Sri Lanka, the Philippines, Indonesia and Mauritania. Most of my work has an applied component which involves moving from research to the development of culturally appropriate interventions.

My recent research in the U.S. has focused on the topic of social smoking among young adults, which resulted in the publication of a book entitled Lighting Up: The Rise of Social Smoking among College Students (NYU Press 2015). I have also conducted extensive research on body image and dieting among adolescent girls. I have conducted longitudinal ethnographic research on these topics and have developed interventions for healthy eating and positive body image for teenaged girls. I have also worked with a team here at the University of Arizona to design, develop, and send text messages for healthy eating for teens in Tucson. I have also worked in elementary, middle and high schools developing tobacco prevention and cessation materials, and have worked closely with students, teachers, administrators around issues of media literacy. My long term ethnographic research on smoking among college students was conducted at two large state universities and involved hundreds of interviews and focus groups. Of particular interest to me has been the marketing of tobacco to women, both in the US and in low and middle income countries.

On the global stage, I am currently the Principal Investigator on a project focused on smoking in Istanbul, Turkey funded by Global Bridges at the Mayo Clinic. I have served as a co Principal Investigator on a National Institutes of Health Fogarty funded project (2007-2013) developing capacity for tobacco cessation in India and Indonesia. As part of this project, myself and colleagues have worked with communities and health workers to design and implement smoke free homes initiatives. The smoke free homes initiative has been adopted by the state of Kerala in South India and has gained popularity in Java, Indonesia. We have also developed a tobacco curriculum for medical students, 20 videos modeling doctor-patient communication skills, and multiple pamphlets and brochures for laypersons on the harms of tobacco. All the materials developed are freely available on the Quit Tobacco International website ( 

Current projects include an ongoing sutdy of the impact of globalization on emerging adults in India with a particular emphasis on changing notions of beauty among young women. In India, I have also conducted research on the social life of yoga and transnational flows across continents in search of ancient knowledge.

Selected Publications


Nichter, Mimi. Lighting Up: The Rise of Social Smoking on College Campuses. 

            New York University Press, January 2015.

Nichter, MimiFat Talk: What Girls and their Parents Say About Dieting. Cambridge:

Harvard University Press, 2000.  (translated into Chinese, 2002).

Nichter, Mark and Nichter, Mimi. Anthropology and International Health: Asian Case Studies.

New York: Routledge Press, 1996.

Selected Articles:

Nichter, Mimi. The social life of yoga: Exploring transnational flows in India. In Beatrix Hauser (editor) Yoga Traveling: Bodily Practice in Transcultural Perspective. Germany; Springer Press,  2013.

Kaufman, N. and Nichter, Mimi. The marketing of tobacco to women: Global perspectives. In Gender, Women and the Tobacco Epidemic. (edited by J. Samet & S.Y.Yoon). World Health Organization, Geneva, 2010.

Nichter, M., Nichter, Mimi, Padmawathi, S., & Thresia, C.U. Anthropological Contributions to the Development of Culturally Appropriate Tobacco Cessation Programs: A global health priority. In Anthropology and Public Health, R. Hahn & M. Inhorn (editors). Oxford University Press, 2009.

Nichter, Mimi. Adolescent Health: A Social Ecological Perspective. In Social and Behavioral Foundations of Public Health, Jeannine Coreil (editor), Sage Press, 2008.

Hingle, M., Nichter, Mimi, Mederios, M., Grace, S. Texting for health: The Use of Participatory Methods to Develop Healthy Lifestyle Messages for Teens. Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior, 45(1), 2013. 

Nichter, Mimi, Borden, Lynn, and Przybl, Veronica. The Role of Program Leaders in the Use of Technology: Challenges and Opportunities for Youth-Serving Organizations. Journal of Youth Development – Bridging Research and Practice. 8 (3), 2013, 83-92.

Amos, A., Greaves, L., Nichter, Mimi, Bloch, M. Women and tobacco: a call for including gender in tobacco control research, policy and practice. Tobacco Control, 2012, 21:236-243.

Ritenbaugh, C., Nichter, Mimi, Nichter, M., Kelly, K., Sims, C. Bell, I, Castaneda, H., et al. Developing a patient-centered outcome measure for complementary and alternative medicine therapies I: Defining content and format. BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine, 2012.

Yuan, N., Castaneda, H., Nichter, M., Nichter, M., Wind, S., Carruth, L. and Muramoto, M. Lay health influencers: how they tailor brief tobacco cessation interventions. Health Education & Behavior (published online first, October 10, 2011).

Nichter, Mimi, Nichter, Mark, Carkoglu, A., Lloyd-Richardson, E. Smoking and drinking among college students: “It’s a package deal”. Drug and Alcohol Dependence, 2010, 106, 16-20.

Nichter, Mark and Nichter, Mimi. Revisiting the Concept of Karma: Lessons from a Dhanvantari Homa. Journal of Ritual Studies, 24(2): 37-55, 2010.

Courses Taught

World Ethnography (Anthropology 315)

Ethnographic Research Methods (Anthropology 407)

Qualitative Research Methods/ Grant Writing (Anthropology 605)

Global Youth Culture (Anthropology 696)

Adolescent Health (Anthropology 495)

Drugs and Society (forthcoming)


Areas of Study

South Asia (India, Sri Lanka)


Southeast Asia (Indonesia, Philippines)

Southwest US

North America (general)


Mayo Clinic, Global Bridges Program. Building Capacity for Illness-Specific Tobacco Cessation among Nurses and Clinical Psychologists in Turkey. (2014-2016), Principal Investigator.

National Institutes of Health, Fogarty International Center, Building Capacity for Tobacco Cessation in India and Indonesia (2007-2013). Co-Principal Investigator.

Research Interests

Adolescents and emerging adults; health cultures

Field areas: South India (Karnataka, Kerala); Indonesia; Turkey; U.S.

Tobacco use in the U.S. and in global settings

Body image and dieting; Changing beauty images globally

M-health: developing health related text messages for teens and emerging adults

Obesity/ physical activity:  developing culturally appropriate programs for healthy eating

Yoga: transnational flows


Mimi Nichter's picture

Contact Information

Professor of Anthropology, Joint Appointments in Public Health and Family and Consumer Resources
Telephone: 520.626.9067
Fax: 520.621.2088
Office: Geronimo Building, Room 318
Office Hours: Varies by Semester


BA George Washington University (English Literature)

MA Teachers College, Columbia University (Applied Linguistics)

MA University of Hawaii (Health Communications)

Ph.D., University of Arizona (Family Studies/Anthropology)

Catalog Courses by Faculty