Visiting Associate of Professor of anthropology
She has worked at the Smithsonian Museum and the American Museum of Natural History, as well as teaching at Western Michigan University and the University of Massachusetts.
Pamela's research focuses on the intersection of science and culture particularly exploring life and death to understand how biology is negotiated by culture at birth, and how life histories are explored through biology in death. The main focus of her research is on women's health in the past and present, across the globe. Her goals are to illuminate patterns of morbidity and mortality for women through biological, cultural, and ethnographic information, and use these data to understand women's lives beyond their maternal roles through time and space.
Her research has taken her all over the globe, but she is particularly interested in the American Southwest, Southwest Asia (Arabian Peninsula), Europe, Australia, and New England.
How did Victorians conceive of the body? In a culture associated in the popular imagination with modesty and propriety, even prudishness, discussions of sexuality and physicality flourished. This course explores both fictional and non-fictional texts from nineteenth-century Britain in conjunction with modern scientific and critical perspectives. We will discuss debates over corsetry and tight-lacing, dress reform, prostitution, and the Contagious Diseases Acts, sexology, hysteria, and other topics relating to science and the body, alongside novels, poetry, and prose by major Victorian writers. The writings of Freud, Foucault, and other theorists, as well as writings in the natural and biological sciences, will assist us in contextualizing nineteenth-century discourses of gender, sexuality, race, and embodiment. Several shorter papers and a longer research project will be required.
This course focuses on the biological and cultural components of reproduction from an evolutionary and cross-cultural perspective. Beginning with the evolution of the pelvis, this course examines the nutritional problems, growth and developmental problems, health problems, and the trauma that can affect successful childbirth. The birth process will be studied for reproductive females in the ancient world, historical trends in obstetrics, and worldwide rates of maternal mortality today will also be used to understand the risks that some birthers face. Birthing customs and beliefs will be examined for indigenous females in a number of different cultural contexts. We will examine the technocratic model of childbirth to understand the changing focus of birth as female centered to a medical condition, which needs to be controlled. In addition, we will consider changing understandings of the birthing body. Students will be required to present and discuss material and to work on a single large research project throughout the semester that relates to the course topic.
This course will investigate the roles of law, culture and technology in creating and re-defining families. We will focus on the ways in which systems of reproduction reinforce and/or challenge inequalities of class, race and gender. We will examine the issues of entitlement to parenthood, domestic and international adoption, surrogacy, birthing and parenting for people in prison, and the uses, consequences and ethics of new reproductive technologies designed to help people give birth to biologically-related children. Questions to be addressed include: How does a person's status affect their relation to reproductive alternatives? What is the relationship between state reproductive policies and actual practices, legal, contested, and clandestine, that develop around these policies? How are notions of family and parenting enacted and transformed in an arena that is transnational, interracial, intercultural, and cross-class?