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


Welcome to my publications page. This includes citations of my works that have been accepted for publication, as well as brief mention of those in the pipeline i.e. in preparation or currently under review. When possible, I have provided links to the full work or the pertinent website for more information. 

Published works

  • Strong, A. Uchache and Working in Scarcity: Work environment and maternal health in Rukwa, Tanzania (under review for invited special issue of Social Science & Medicine)
  • 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)  
  •  Strong, A. 2015. “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
  •  Marwa, S and A. Strong. 2015. “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

  • 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)
  • Strong, A. “We Swim in Blood:" Maternity care providers and perceptions of risk in the work place at a Tanzanian hospital (in preparation)
  • Strong, A. "Jumping the Red Tape:" Administrative Workarounds, Improvisation, and the Social World of Rumors in a Tanzanian Hospital (in preparation)

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