About Me

A white woman with shoulder-length brown hair, brown eyes, and a silver nose ring smiles at the camera. She is wearing a yellow shirt, a silver necklace, and blue dangling earrings, and behind her are shelves of books of various colors.
Photo by Caio Fernandes Barbosa

I am a cultural medical anthropologist whose research focuses on questions of care in contexts of crisis and social inequality. I work in South America, primarily Brazil. I’m working on two major research projects: one on disability and the social impacts of the Zika virus epidemic, the other on childbirth and maternal health policy, both in the northeastern Brazilian state of Bahia. My research is currently supported by a Wenner-Gren Post-PhD Fieldwork Grant, and previous work has been funded by Wenner-Gren, Fulbright-Hays, and Fulbright IIE as well as a number of smaller grants and fellowships. You can learn more about my research here.

Currently, I hold a joint appointment as Lecturer in Latin American Studies and Romance Languages and Literatures at Washington University in St. Louis, where I also coordinate the Portuguese language program. Previously, I was a Postdoctoral Teaching Fellow in Latin American Studies at WashU. Visit my university web page here.

My teaching is interdisciplinary with an emphasis on anthropological methods and analysis. Students in my courses engage actively with an array of ethnographic and historical materials, and my interactive lectures and assignments are designed to help them develop critical understandings of how power and inequality shape human experience as well as how people create meaning in their lives. As a first-gen college graduate and scholar, I cultivate inclusive pedagogy that prioritizes access for all students. You can learn more about my teaching here.

I am also active in the anthropology community both in the U.S. and in Brazil. I am Senior Book Reviews Editor and a member of the editorial board of American Ethnologist, a member of the Advocacy Committee in the Council on Anthropology and Reproduction (CAR), serve on the Brazilian Anthropological Association Disability and Accessibility Committee (CODEA-ABA), and peer review for a diverse set of publications in the social sciences and humanities.

At WashU, I founded and coordinate the Disability and Embodied Difference Reading Group through the Center for the Humanities, am a Faculty Scholar in the Institute for Public Health and Faculty Affiliate in the Center for the Study of Race, Ethnicity, and Equity (CRE2), and serve on the Fulbright Committee.

I am also involved in arts and activism in the St. Louis community. I work with Planned Parenthood, ArchCity Defenders, and the St. Louis Chamber Chorus, among others.


  • PhD in Anthropology (Rice University, 2019)
  • MA in Anthropology (Rice University, 2016)
  • Graduate certificate in the Study of Women, Gender, and Sexuality (Rice University, 2016)
  • BA in Women & Gender Studies (University of Colorado, Boulder, 2009)
  • BA in Spanish – Spanish & Portuguese track (University of Colorado, Boulder, 2009)

You can find my current CV here. You can also follow me on Twitter @kelizaw and on Academia.edu.