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William Robertson

About William Robertson

My research interests revolve around questions concerning how biomedical education, training, specialization, and practice are co-constitutive with broader cultural norms concerning risk, gender, and sexuality. Building on my previous research on the role of medicine in (re)producing heteronormativity, my dissertation research uses HPV and anal dysplasia/cancer as a lens through which to examine the interplay among biomedical knowledge, practices, techniques, technologies, gender, and sexuality. By paying close attention to the everyday clinical practices of screening, diagnosis, and treatment of a sexually transmitted infection that has been highly gendered in public health campaigns and medical research, as well as patient knowledge about and experiences of HPV-related anal disease, I hope to shed light on the cultural assumptions at work in the enactment of HPV and anal dysplasia/cancer.

Selected Publications

2019 Challenging heteronormativity in medicine. In Routledge Handbook of the Medical Humanities, ed. Alan Bleakley. London: Routledge. Chapter 8: 105-113.

2017. "Believe it or Not": The Medical Framing of Rectal Foreign Bodies. Culture, Health, and Sexuality

2016. The Irrelevance Narrative: Queer (In)Visibility in Medical Education and Practice. Medical Anthropology Quarterly

Courses Taught

At UA:
Summer 2017, 2018 - Instructor for ANTH/GWS/CPH 438A Women's Health in Global Perspective
Spring 2017 - TA for ANTH 150B Many Ways of Being Human
Spring 2016 - TA for ANTH 160D2 Origins of Human Diversity

Anthropology of Biomedicine
Sex, Gender & Culture
Kinship & Social Organization
Language, Thought, and Culture
Introduction to Cultural Anthropology
Introduction to Anthropology (Four-Field)
Honors Tutorial I: Justice
The Civic Ethos


I am currently writing up my dissertation based on fieldwork (from June 2018-May 2019) funded by the Wenner-Gren Foundation at a clinic that specializes in the treatment of HPV-related anal disease in Chicago, Illinois, USA.

I was previously the Qualitative Data Manager for Dr. Susan Shaw's RxHL project from fall 2014 through fall 2016.

Research Interests

Anthropology of the body; sex/gender and sexuality; heteronormativity and homonormativity; biopolitics and political anatomy; medical education/training and the development of specialization and expertise; anthropology of health, illness, disease, and sickness; HPV; anal dysplasia/cancer; syndemics of HPV; the politics of social categorization; science and technology studies; queer health disparities; queer & trans theories; structural violence; social justice movements; science and popular culture

William Robertson's picture


MA, Anthropology - The University of Texas at San Antonio (2013)
BA, Anthropology - The University of Texas at San Antonio (2010)