Adrienne Strong

Medical anthropology, maternal mortality, hospital ethnography, and dignity in women's health care

I am currently a PhD candidate in sociocultural anthropology at Washington University in St. Louis, USA. I am also pursuing a joint degree with the Universiteit van Amsterdam in the Netherlands. I study maternal mortality and women's health in Tanzania, currently in the Rukwa Region, and conducted my dissertation fieldwork from January 2014- August 2015. From September 2010 through July 2011, I conducted research on access to healthcare services during pregnancy, birth, and the postpartum period in the Singida Region of Tanzania. My doctoral dissertation project focuses on the inner workings of a government regional referral hospital, examining how institutional structures related to hierarchy, bureaucracy, historical precedents, communication and other factors, may influence the capacity of the institution to provide effective maternal healthcare during times of obstetric crisis. My research focuses on biomedical healthcare providers and administrators, groups that are often overlooked in the context of medical anthropology in sub-Saharan Africa. I contextualize the hospital ethnography with interviews, participant observation, and focus group discussions in communities throughout the region, as well as through the use of primary archival sources from the colonial and post-independence eras. 

This is my personal website, which includes updates on my research, collaborations, conference presentations and papers, publications, teaching, and critical responses to current events related to women's health and reproduction.  

Mentions and Public Anthropology

Washington University Feature

Feature on Anthropology Department Website

Research Report on Global Health Hub

Photoessay on SAPIENS.org

Adrienne Strong, PhD Candidate    

Washington University in St. Louis, Department of Anthropology

McMillan Hall, One Brookings Drive St. Louis, MO 63130 USA

Universiteit van Amsterdam,

Amsterdam Institute for Social Science Research- Health, Care, and the Body Research Group                Postbus 15509 1001 NA Amsterdam, The Netherlands

 

RESEARCH INTERESTS

 Medical anthropologist with over 3.5 years of fieldwork experience in Tanzania (2007-2016) conducting qualitative and mixed methods ethnographic research in health facilities in remote areas. Research interests in maternal death in healthcare facilities, respectful maternity care, stillbirth and accountability, health system financing in ethnographic perspective, and human resources for health in sub-Saharan Africa, as well as men’s sexual and reproductive health in East Africa. Interests in bureaucracy, theoretical approaches to the study of institutions, hospital ethnography, as well as theoretical concepts of risk, uncertainty, and care. My research interests sit at the nexus of anthropology, gender studies, science and technology studies, and history.

HIGHLIGHTS

  •  Over $250,000 in extramural funding for research and graduate school support since 2010, including Fulbright IIE, Fulbright-Hays, National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship, National Science Foundation Doctoral Dissertation Improvement Grant, and P.E.O. Scholar Award
  •  Fieldwork experience and National Science Foundation sponsored training in designing and conducting systematic mixed methods and qualitative research projects in cultural anthropology
  • History of interdisciplinary collaboration in publishing, fieldwork, and consulting  

EDUCATION

2017    Ph.D. Anthropology, Washington University in St. Louis (May 2017)

              Ph.D. joint degree in Anthropology, Universiteit van Amsterdam (May 2017)

Dissertation: The Maternity Ward as Mirror: Maternal Death, Biobureaucracy, and Institutional Care in the Tanzanian Health Sector, advised by John Bowen and Anita Hardon

2016    Certificate in Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies, Washington University in St. Louis (May 2016)

2013    M.A. Anthropology, Washington University in St. Louis (May 2013)

2010    B.S. with Research Distinction in Biomedical Science, Minor French Literature, magna cum laude, The Ohio State University (June 2010)

                                                                                                                            

PUBLICATIONS

2016    Strong, A. “Uchache and Working in Scarcity: Work environment, austerity, and maternal health in Rukwa, Tanzania” (under review, Social Science & Medicine)

2016    Strong, A. and D.A. Schwartz. “Anthropological aspects of risk to pregnant women during the 2013-2015 multinational Ebola virus outbreak in West Africa.” Health Care for Women International (in press)

2015    Strong, A. “The convergence of social and institutional dynamics resulting in maternal death in Rukwa, Tanzania” in Maternal Mortality: Risk Factors, Anthropological Perspectives, Prevalence in Developing Countries and Preventative Strategies for Pregnancy- Related Death. Ed. David Schwartz. Nova Science Publishers

2015    Marwa, S and A. Strong. “Three case studies and experiences of maternal death at a regional referral hospital in Rukwa, Tanzania” in Maternal Mortality: Risk Factors, Anthropological Perspectives, Prevalence in Developing Countries and Preventative Strategies for Pregnancy-Related Death. Ed. David Schwartz. Nova Science Publishers

Works in Progress

2016    Strong, A. The partograph as mutable mobile: How one piece of paper becomes a clinical tool, bureaucratic document, and social facilitator on a Tanzanian maternity ward (in preparation)

2016    Strong, A. “We Swim in Blood:” Maternity care providers and perceptions of risk in the work place at a Tanzanian hospital (in preparation)

2016    Strong, A. “Jumping the Red Tape:” Administrative workarounds, improvisation, and the social world of rumors in a Tanzanian hospital (in preparation)  

Public Anthropology and Other Publications

 2016    Maternal Health: A Dangerous Birth, photoessay on SAPIENS.org (forthcoming)

2016    Washington People: Adrienne Strong https://source.wustl.edu/2016/08/washington-people-adrienne-strong/

2014    Hospitals and Maternal Death in Tanzania, GlobalHealthHub.org http://www.globalhealthhub.org/2014/06/21/hospitals-maternal-death-tanzania-adrienne-strong/

2014    Personal fieldwork blog mentioned in Around the Web Digest, SavageMinds.org, weeks of July 14th and August 10th http://savageminds.org/2014/07/14/around-the-web-digest-week-of-july-6/

SELECTED AWARDS AND GRANTS

2016-17           Dissertation Completion Fellowship, Washington University in St. Louis, $22,000

2015                Society for Medical Anthropology Travel Award for travel to American Anthropological Association Annual Meeting, $500

2015-16           P.E.O. Scholar Award from International Chapter of the P.E.O. Sisterhood, $15,000

2015-16           National Science Foundation Doctoral Dissertation Improvement Grant, $15,125

2014-15           Fulbright-Hays Doctoral Dissertation Research Abroad Grant, $23,718

2011-16           National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship, $185,000

2010-11           Fulbright Institute for International Education, Student Research Grant to Tanzania, $25,000

2006-10           Presidential Scholarship, The Ohio State University, $100,000

INVITED TALKS

2016    P.E.O. Sisterhood Chapter Meeting- St. Louis, MO (March 5)

2015    Fulbright Reflection Series- U.S. Embassy, Dar es Salaam, Tanzania (August 4): Bureaucracy, Life, and Death on the Maternity Ward of a Tanzanian Hospital

2014    Islamic Medical Association and the Federation of Islamic Medical Associations Annual Conference- Arusha, Tanzania (August 9-10): Improving a comprehensive understanding of maternal death 

2011    Fulbright Reflection Series- U.S. Embassy, Dar es Salaam, Tanzania (July 21): Through the Voices of the Women: Birth culture and maternal healthcare in Singida, Tanzania

 

 

CONFERENCE PRESENTATIONS

2016    American Anthropological Association Annual Meeting- Minneapolis, Minnesota (November 15-20) Vital Conjunctures and Breached Initiations: Constructing Adulthood Under Conditions of Precarity

Panel Co-Organizer and Co-Chair, Invited Session, American Ethnological Society

 

2016    American Anthropological Association Annual Meeting- Minneapolis, Minnesota (November 15-20): We Swim in Blood: Risk, Healthcare Providers, and Social Interactions on a Tanzanian Maternity Ward

2015    American Anthropological Association Annual Meeting- Denver, Colorado (November 18-22): Partograph as Mutable Mobile: The Social Life of a Document on a Tanzanian Maternity Ward

Co-Chair and Panel Co-Organizer (Health Systems in the Global South: New Ethnographic Approaches)

2015    European Association of Social Anthropologists Medical Anthropology Section MAGic 2015 Conference- Brighton, England (September 9-11): Ethnography as Mediator Between Community and Maternal Healthcare Providers in Rukwa, Tanzania

2013    American Anthropological Association Annual Meeting- Chicago, Illinois (November 20-24): Home birth in St. Louis, MO: Tenuous Legalization

2013    The Fantastic and the Banal: Rethinking Bureaucratic Authority- University of Colorado, Boulder (September 27-29): Bureaucracy and Birth: Life and Death on the Maternity Ward of the Rukwa Regional Hospital

2013    Society for Medical Anthropology/European Association of Social Anthropologists Medical Anthropology Section Joint Meeting- Tarragona, Spain (June 12-14): Fierce Nurses and Bad Welcomes: Theorizing women’s perceptions of patient-provider interactions and encounters in the biomedical care setting in Singida, Tanzania

2012    Society for Applied Anthropology Annual Meeting- Baltimore, Maryland (March 27-31): Shut Up and Push!: Factors Influencing Health Care Seeking Behaviors During Pregnancy and Childbirth in Rural Tanzania

Session Chai

RESEARCH AND FIELD EXPERIENCE

 Washington University in St. Louis Department of Anthropology

2014-15           The Maternity Ward as Mirror: Maternal Death, Biobureaucracy, and Institutional Care in the Tanzanian Health Sector, advised by Dr. Carolyn Sargent (January 2014-August 2015)

Doctoral dissertation research on the institutional, historical, and social contributors to maternal death within the biomedical healthcare setting in the Rukwa region of Tanzania, using systematic and mixed research methods

Committee members: Dr. John Bowen, Anthropology; Dr. Brad Stoner, Anthropology; Dr. Shanti Parikh, Anthropology; Dr. Priscilla Song, Anthropology; Dr. Anita Hardon, University of Amsterdam, Anthropology.

2012-13           Breast Cancer in French Immigrants from the Senegal River Basin living in Paris, France, advised by Dr. Carolyn Sargent, (June 2012-March 2013)

Interdisciplinary and international collaborative research with researchers from French institutions and Washington University in St. Louis Department of Anthropology and Brown School of Social Work and Public Health

Conducted preliminary data collection from patient records at a Parisian hospital

Contributed to planning meetings and recommended potential use of GIS to delimit geographic boundaries for data collection in neighborhoods in certain Parisian districts

2011-12           The Voice of the Mother: Homebirth in St. Louis, Missouri, advised by Dr. Priscilla Song, (September 2011-December 2012)

Conducted participant observation and interviews with women in the homebirth community in St. Louis on legal challenges to accessing homebirth options, as well as individual motivations for pursuing midwifery care and out of hospital births

 

Fulbright Student Research Grant, affiliated with Outreach International, Singida Region, Tanzania

2010-11           Birth culture of the Singida Region of Tanzania and barriers to the use of healthcare services during pregnancy and childbirth (September 2010- July 2011)

Conducted independent research for eleven months in Singida, Tanzania including semi-structured interviews, surveys, and participant observation in villages, village dispensaries, and the Singida Regional Hospital

The Ohio State University Department of Anthropology and Singida Region Government Hospital

2008-10           Barriers to the uptake of healthcare services during pregnancy in rural Tanzania, advised by Dr. Barbara Piperata, (October 2008-June 2010)

Project won 1st place in Social and Behavioral Science category at Ohio State’s Denman Undergraduate Research Forum, 2010

 

TEACHING EXPERIENCE 

Washington University in St. Louis, St. Louis, MO

2017    Instructor of Record: Global Gender Issues, Spring 2017, University College

2016    Instructor of Record: Introduction to Women, Gender and Sexuality Studies, Spring 2016

2012    Teaching Assistant: Gender, Culture and Madness in Fall 2012, taught by Dr. Rebecca Lester

2016    Invited Respondent for Mellon Mays Undergraduate Fellowship 2nd Annual Research Forum, Spring 2016- commented on student research theses

2016    Guest Lecture on maternal mortality for Transnational Reproductive Health, Spring 2016

2016    Guest Lecture on birth and maternal mortality for Introduction to Medical Anthropology, Spring 2016

2015    Guest Lecture on methods for systematic qualitative text analysis for Research Methods in Anthropology Seminar, Fall 2015

2015    Guest Lecture on research methods in anthropology for Introduction to Cultural Anthropology, Fall 2015

2015    Guest Lecture on maternal and reproductive health for Introduction to Medical Anthropology, Fall 2015

CONSULTING

2015    Plan International, Jhpiego, and Africare Tanzania, (June-July 2015)

Advised program officers as they were writing a proposal for a new 5-year, multi-million-dollar project to operate in the Rukwa and Geita regions of Tanzania, funded by the partner organizations and the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA)

Contributed primary, ethnographic research data during planning meetings to determine goals and design of new project in order to fulfill the objectives of lowering maternal and infant mortality in Tanzania

Produced briefing documents based on primary ethnographic research on topics related to the regional hospital’s Health Management Team, community concerns and self-identified needs, and suggestions for improving the maternal death audit procedures being followed in the Rukwa region

 PROFESSIONAL MEMBERSHIPS

 2014-present   White Ribbon Alliance for Safe Motherhood, Tanzania

2012-present   Council on Anthropology of Reproduction

2009-present   Society for Medical Anthropology

2009-present   American Anthropological Association

2010-present   Sigma Xi Scientific Research Society, Associate Member

2011-present   Fulbright Alumni Association

 EXCHANGE PROGRAMS

2016-17           Washington University in St. Louis and the University of Amsterdam – Health, Care, and the Body, Amsterdam Institute for Social Science Research (AISSR) (August 2016- January 2017)

2012-13           Washington University in St. Louis, University of Amsterdam, and L’Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales, Paris France: Three-part exchange program focused on the anthropology of institutions (September 2012- June 2013)

 LANGUAGE PROFICIENCY

 English- native

Swahili- fluent

French- highly proficient

Spanish- proficient reading comprehension

German- university instruction, limited proficiency

OTHER TRAINING

 2013    National Science Foundation Summer Institute for Research Design, Duke Marine Lab, North Carolina, USA (July 14-August 3, 2013): Three weeks of intensive instruction on anthropological research design and methods, including training in qualitative and mixed methods data analysis software packages including SYSTAT, UCINET, ANTHROPAC, and MAXQDA.

2013    Doula (birth attendant) training through DONA International (September 2013): Participated in three days of intensive training on the duties of a doula as a labor support person.

 

PROFESSIONAL SERVICE

 Council for Anthropology on Reproduction (CAR), a Special Interest Group of the Society for Medical Anthropology- International Newsletter Co-editor (2016-18)

Committee of 3 Cultural Anthropology Graduate Student Representative, Washington University in St. Louis Department of Anthropology (2015-16)

Liaised with faculty counterparts to voice graduate students’ concerns and advocate for their needs with the Department’s faculty, Graduate Coordinator, and Department Chair

Designed and disseminated student satisfaction survey in Fall 2015 to elicit needs for improvement within the department

 COMMUNITY ENGAGEMENT

2012-14           University United Methodist Church- Rukwa Partnership for Health fundraising project, St. Louis, MO and Sumbawanga, Tanzania (October 2012-December 2013)

Planned and led fundraising campaign to purchase boat to serve as emergency transport to healthcare services for five villages on Lake Rukwa, Tanzania

Coordinated fundraising projects to raise a total of more than $11,000 for the purchase of a boat, motor, and life jackets, as well as coordinating transportation of the boat to its location of use

Worked with Rukwa Regional Medical Office and Sumbawanga Urban District Offices to coordinate sustained support for the boat

In March 2014 presented the boat to the local community and Tanzania’s Minister of Health and Social Welfare as part of the White Ribbon Day celebrations to commemorate maternal deaths and advocate for improved maternal health care services

 

REFERENCES

Carolyn F. Sargent, Professor of Sociocultural Anthropology and Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies, Washington University in St. Louis

            Email: carolynsargent@wustl.edu

            Phone: +12146956949

            Address: Campus Mailbox 1114

                              One Brookings Drive

St. Louis, MO 63130

 

John Bowen, Dunbar-Van Cleve Professor in Arts & Sciences, Sociocultural Anthropology, Washington University in St. Louis

         Email: Jbowen@wustl.edu

         Phone: +13149355680

            Address: Campus Mailbox 1114

                              One Brookings Drive

St. Louis, MO 63130

 

Anita Hardon, Professor of Anthropology, Amsterdam Institute for Social Science Research, the University of Amsterdam

         Email: A.P.Hardon@uva.nl

         Phone: +31205253544 or +31205252504

         Address: Postbus 15509

                        1001 NA Amsterdam

                        The Netherlands

 

Teaching reference: Mary Ann Dzuback, Chair, Department of Women, Gender and Sexuality Studies, Associate Professor of Education, Associate Professor of History, Washington University in St. Louis

            Email: madzubac@wustl.edu

            Phone: +13149355172

            Address: Campus Mailbox 1183

                              One Brookings Drive

St. Louis, MO 63130

           

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