Visiting Assistant Professor of Anthropology Kim Gutschow specializes in Medical Anthropology, South Asian Studies, and Reproductive Health in India and the U.S. Throughout her career, she has worked not only in the U.S., but also in India for twenty-three years, Thailand for two, and Nepal and Pakistan for shorter periods of time. Gutschow also teaches at Goettingen University in Germany, and chairs a research group in the Anthropology of Public Health there.
How did you become interested in medical anthropology and South Asian Studies?
I studied Medical Anthropology at Harvard a few years after Paul Farmer, but we shared the same adviser. I was already keenly interested in gender and sexuality and T-Aing for courses in Gender and Women’s studies, so Reproductive Health seemed a natural fit as an area in interest in Medical Anthropology. But, as a twist, I worked and wrote my Ph.D. on Buddhist Nuns — my other subfield at Harvard was Anthro of Religion, and Gender and Sexuality both relate to religion as much as reproduction. Finally, my memoir — when I finish it — could be subtitled “From Celibacy to Maternity” — as these are the key topics I have been working on for the past twenty years in India and elsewhere in South Asia.
Why do you think it’s important for Williams students, and Westerners in general, to study South Asia, and non-Western cultures in general?
The world is more and more international, and this is what one needs to survive in the 21st century.
If you could go any one place in the world, where would you go and why?
New Zealand to hike, Antartica to understand climate change, and Barcelona just to have fun.
What are you reading at the moment?
From Outrage to Courage: Women Taking Action for Health and Justice, by Anne Firth Murray, with a foreword by Paul Farmer.