Claire Wendland, “Partial Stories: Maternal Death in a Changing African World”

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Claire Wendland, Professor of Anthropology, Obstetrics, Gynecology at the University of Wisconsin Madison, presents her research project, “Partial Stories: Maternal Death in a Changing African World,” to an interdisciplinary group of NDIAS Fellows, guest faculty, and students.

Wendland is Professor in the Departments of Anthropology and Obstetrics & Gynecology at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She worked as an obstetrician-gynecologist on the Navajo reservation for years before turning to medical anthropology. Her research explores healing expertise in African settings, attending to both biomedical and vernacular ways of explaining and treating affliction. Her current book project, based on field research in Malawi, explores explanations for maternal death in a context in which mortality rates are very high while the uncertainties surrounding any given death are substantial.

Wendland is the author of A Heart for the Work: Journeys through an African Medical School (Chicago 2010), the first ethnography of a medical school in the global South. She has written over twenty journal articles and book chapters on ethics, medical pluralism, and reproductive health, and has co-edited a special journal collection on “studying up” in Africa. She serves on the editorial boards for Anthropological Quarterly and Medical Anthropology Quarterly. She has chaired, and is now senior advisor for, the Council for Anthropology and Reproduction.

Her research has been supported by funding from the Wenner-Gren Foundation for Anthropological Research, a Romnes Faculty Fellowship from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, the Social Science Research Council, and the A.W. Mellon Foundation. Her teaching at UW-Madison has been recognized with both the Phillip R. Certain Letters & Science Distinguished Faculty Award and the Chancellor’s Distinguished Teaching Award.