Prof. Ellen Block
Ellen Block received her PhD in Anthropology and Social Work from the University of Michigan in 2012. She joined us in 2014 from Brown University in Providence, RI, where she was a Postdoctoral Research Associate at the Population Studies and Training Center.
Her work centers on the intersections of health, kinship and care in sub-Saharan Africa and the United States. She is currently working on two projects. One examines the experiences of healthcare providers working with COVID-19 patients in the United States. This project seeks to understand how COVID-19 is impacting the professional experiences and personal lives of healthcare providers, and the experiences of patients resulting from the uncertainty, risk and rapid changes brought by the pandemic.
Block, Ellen. "Exposed Intimacies: Clinicians on the Frontlines of the COVID-19 Pandemic." Anthropology in Action 27, no. 2 (2020): 63-67.
She is also working on a project that examines the emergence of new forms of elder care in Ghana.
In her first book, "Infected Kin: Orphan Care and AIDS in Lesotho." (2019, Rutgers University Press), Block argues that AIDS is fundamentally a kinship disease, examining the ways it transcends infected individuals and seeps into kin relations and networks of care. The creative collaboration between Block and her writer/husband Will McGrath (author of Everything Lost is Found Again) blends ethnographic scholarship and creative nonfiction to bring to life the joys and struggles of the Basotho people at the heart of the AIDS pandemic.
Ellen's research has been funded most recently by a Fulbright U.S. Scholar Grant, and a Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council grant. Her work appeared in a number of books and journals including JRAI, Anthropological Quarterly, AIDS Care, Death Studies, and Social Dynamics.
Infected Kin Teaching Resources: Please see this link to access a variety of teaching materials and supplemental resources.
SJU Office: 118 Simons
Fall 2020: Sabbatical
Spring 2021 courses:
SOCI 277A Global Health - A1 Block
SOCI 324 - Anthropology of Africa - C3 Block
Africa is an immense continent of strikingly rich and diverse geography, politics and cultures. This course explores many of the central issues and debates in the anthropological study of contemporary Africa, with a focus on sub-Saharan Africa. Media representations of Africa often focus solely on suffering, poverty, disease and corruption. African life is also frequently portrayed as a singular unified experience. Yet, African societies and communities are dynamic: both in their cultural, political and historical diversity, and in their responses to the legacies of colonialism and the challenges of the contemporary global context. While this course will examine many of the problems that contemporary Africans face, we will also contextualize these problems and counter prevailing narratives about Africa by exploring the resilience and rich cultural life on the continent. Topics will include: colonialism and post-colonialism, political economies, kinship and social organization, religion, health, gender, globalization, sexuality, and arts.