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.

I am currently a Postdoctoral Associate in Global Social Medicine and Health Humanities at Duke University’s Global Health Institute. Previously, I held a joint appointment as Lecturer in Latin American Studies and Romance Languages and Literatures at Washington University in St. Louis, where I also coordinated the Portuguese language program.

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.

At WashU, I founded and coordinated the Disability and Embodied Difference Reading Group through the Center for the Humanities, was 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 served on the Fulbright Committee.


  • 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.