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.

COVID-19 and Healthcare Providers Preliminary Findings 

COVID-19 Infographic

Block, Ellen. "Exposed Intimacies: Clinicians on the Frontlines of the COVID-19 Pandemic." Anthropology in Action 27, no. 2 (2020): 63-67.  

Block, E. and C. Vindrola-Padros (2021) “Making Do: COVID-19 and the improvisation of care in the UK and the US. In Manderson, Lenore, Nancy J. Burke, and Ayo Wahlberg, eds. Viral Loads: Anthropologies of urgency in the time of COVID-19. London: UCL Press: 303-323.

Selected chapters from Caring on the frontline during COVID-19: Contributions from Rapid Qualitative Research. Cecilia Vindrola-Padros and Ginger Johnson, eds.  London: Palgrave Macmillan

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
[email protected]

Spring 2022 Courses:
  • SOCI 277 – Global Health
  • SOCI 323 – Medical Anthropology
Fall 2022 Courses:
  • SOCI 121 – Intro to Anthropology
  • SOCI 337P – Love, Sex and Marriage

More information about Prof. Ellen Block, including her publications, can be found on her CV or her page.