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Susan J. Shaw

About Susan J. Shaw

Susan J. Shaw is a medical anthropologist specializing in ethnicity, health disparities, social movements, and the political economy of health in the United States. Her book, Governing How We Care: Contesting Community and Defining Difference in U.S. Public Health Programs, analyzes local struggles over community health as a window onto the complex meanings of governance, citizenship, and identity formation. Drawing on ethnographic research conducted over six years in a New England city, this book places community health, a critically understudied area, at the center of analyses of contemporary transformations in governing. In domains that include HIV prevention, cultural differences in primary health care, chronic disease, and health care reform, her work explores the multiple and unanticipated effects of contemporary neoliberal policies in the U.S. inner city. She examines the ways in which community responses to marginalization can lead to new kinds of identities formed in part through collective struggles around health issues. Dr. Shaw recently concluded a four-year, NIH-funded study of cultural differences, health literacy, and chronic disease management among four ethnic groups in the northeastern U.S. She is currently PI on the RxHL study, a four-year follow-up study that looks at how people with low health literacy cope with increasing costs and changes in their medication coverage (R01HL120907: Medication Adherence, Health Literacy and Cultural Health Beliefs in a Massachusetts Community Health Center).


Brief CV


Selected Publications

   Governing How We Care: Contesting Community and Defining Difference in U.S. Public Health Programs. Temple University Press, March 2012.

"The Ethical Self-Fashioning of Physicians and Health Care Systems in Culturally Appropriate Health Care." Culture, Medicine and Psychiatry 35(2): 236-61, 2011 (with Julie Armin).

"The Logic of Identity and Resemblance in Culturally Appropriate Health Care." Health 14(5): 523-544, 2010. 

"The Role of Culture in Health Literacy and Chronic Disease Screening and Management." Journal of Immigrant and Minority Health 11(6): 460-8, 2009 (with C. Huebner, J. Armin, K. Orzech, and J. Vivian).

"Incitements to Discourse: Illicit Drugs, Harm Reduction and the Production of Ethnographic Subjects." Cultural Anthropology 23(4):688-717, 2008 (with Nancy Campbell).

"Public Citizens, Marginalized Communities: The Struggle for Syringe Exchange in Massachusetts." Medical Anthropology 25(1):31-64, 2006. 

"The Politics of Recognition in Culturally Appropriate Care." Medical Anthropology Quarterly 19(3):290-309, 2005.


Courses Taught

Graduate courses:

ANTH571B - Anthropology of Biomedicine and Health Disparities

Women's Health in the U.S.

Urban Anthropology

Bodies, Genders, Sexualities

Areas of Study

North America (general)

Research Interests

Identity, ethnicity and community in health care; United States; HIV/AIDS; governmentality; access to health care; social movements; gender and sexuality.

Susan J. Shaw's picture

Contact Information

Associate Professor of Anthropology
Telephone: 520.621.4395
Fax: 520.621.2088
Office: Emil W. Haury Building, Room 321


Ph.D., University of North Carolina Chapel Hill; Anthropology