The Department of Sociology & Anthropology


Amy CooperAmy Cooper, Ph.D. Email  Janine Kay Gwen Chi, Ph.D
Assistant Professor of Anthropology

Ph.D., University of Chicago
M.A., University of Chicago
B.Sc., Georgetown University

Visit Dr. Cooper's website

I am a cultural and medical anthropologist studying the social and political aspects of health care in urban Latin America, the Caribbean, and the United States. My research and teaching interests include the anthropology of health and medicine, the body, mental health and psychiatry, homelessness, and aging; the anthropological study of citizenship and political activism; and Latin American and Caribbean studies. For the past ten years, I have conducted ethnographic research on these topics in urban Venezuela, Cuba, and the United States.

Through my ongoing research I analyze the relationships between political ideologies, public health systems, and local understandings of health. In particular, I explore what specific health practices reveal about medicine’s role in constituting everyday life, ideas about the body and well being, and political agency.

I teach courses in cultural anthropology, medical anthropology, global health, anthropological theory and methods, and Latin American studies. My teaching style relies heavily on student-led discussions, collaborative, research-based learning, and writing as a process of thinking.

At Muhlenberg College, I teach courses in the Anthropology, Public Health, and Latin American and Caribbean Studies programs.

Courses offered at Muhlenberg

Anthropology 112: Cultural Anthropology

Anthropology 205: Anthropological Theory

Anthropology 291: Medicine and Culture (cross listed, Public Health)

Anthropology 313: Anthropological Ethnography

Anthropology 341: Health and Healing in Latin America (cross listed, Public Health and LACS)

Anthropology 345: Culture, Mental Health, and Psychiatry (cross listed, Public Health)

Anthropology 450: Senior Seminar in Anthropology

Anthropology 289: Other Worlds: Anthropology Through Science Fiction (cluster course; partner course is FLM 230: Cultural Encounters in Film; fulfills General Academic Requirement for cluster course)

See my website for more information about my courses.

Faculty Affiliate in:
Latin American and Caribbean Studies Program
Public Health Program

Campus Committees
Institutional Review Board (IRB) Committee (2014-2017)
Faculty Development and Scholarship Committee (Spring 2015)

Select Publications

Time Seizures and the Self: Institutional Temporalities and Self Preservation among Homeless Women. Culture, Medicine, and Psychiatry. DOI 10.1007/s11013-014-9405-8.

In Press
Protests and Polarization in Venezuela After Chávez: Introduction and Life After Hugo Chávez (co-authors Robert Samet and Naomi Schiller). Field Sites - Hot Spots. Cultural Anthropology Online.

Under Review
The Doctor’s Political Body: Doctor-Patient Interactions and Political Belonging in Venezuelan Neighborhood Clinics. American Ethnologist. Revise and resubmit, June 2014.

Under Review
What does health activism mean in Venezuela’s public health system? Understanding community health work in political and cultural context. Invited article for special issue of Annals of Anthropological Practice.

In preparation
Vital Politics: Health Care and Citizenship in Venezuela (book manuscript).

God’s Laboratory: Assisted Reproduction in the Andes. By Elizabeth Roberts (Berkeley: University of California Press). Somatosphere.

Review of Revolutionary medicine: Health and the body in post-Soviet Cuba by P. Sean Brotherton (Durham: Duke University Press, 2012). Somatosphere.

Becoming a community person: Stories of motivation and transformation in Barrio Adentro’s volunteer health committees [Spanish]. In De la Participación en Salud a la Construcción de Poder Popular: Experiencias para el Debate, Eds. Miguel Malo and Johanna Levy. Maracay, Venezuela: Instituto de Altos Estudios Dr. Arnoldo Gabaldón. Download here.

Review of Love, sorrow, and rage: Destitute women in a Manhattan residence. By Alisse Waterston (Philadephia: Temple University Press). Medical Anthropology Quarterly 20:261-262.

Psychiatrists’ attitudes toward involuntary hospitalization (second author). Psychiatric Services 55:1058-1060. Download here.

Mental illness stigma and care seeking (first author). Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease 191:339-341. Download here.

Recent Presentations

Inside the Neighborhood: The Political symbolism of place in Venezuelan public health. American Anthropological Association Annual Meeting, Washington, D.C., December 6.

Spatiality, politics, and belonging in Venezuelan state health care. American Anthropological Association Annual Meeting, Chicago, November 21.

Healthy Aging Across Cultures, Phoebe Institute for Aging Conference, Allentown, PA, October 18.

The political significance of doctors in Venezuela: An anthropological approach to understanding medical care, Biology Seminar Series, Muhlenberg College, October 3.

Activism within the Activist State: Community Health Workers and State Medicine in Caracas, Venezuela. Latin American Studies Association Congress, Washington, D.C., May 30.

Conflicts over care in Venezuelan neighborhood clinics: Lessons for a changing medical landscape in the U.S. American Ethnological Society/Association for Political and Legal Anthropology Joint Meeting, Chicago, April 13.

Enacting utopias of health in Caracas. American Anthropological Association Annual Meeting, San Francisco, November 18.

An “excess” of medicine: Care, satisfaction, and citizenship in Venezuelan public health. Society for Medical Anthropology Meeting, Baltimore, March 28.

Conference Panels Organized

And/Or/Both/Neither: Social Movements between Civil Society and the Activist State. Latin American Studies Association Congress, Washington, D.C., May 30.

Revisiting The Magical State with The Future in Question: In Memory of Fernando Coronil. American Anthropological Association Annual Meeting, November 18.

Rethinking the Boundaries of Care, Intimacy, and Health (double session). The Society for Medical Anthropology Biannual Meeting, Baltimore, March 27-31.

Medicine and Moral Worlds: Crises of Health and Morality in Latin America. Latin American Studies Association Annual Congress, Toronto, October 9.