Claire Snell-Rood

Past Student Director

Sociocultural Anthropology

Regional focus: South Asia (North India)

Topical interests: Medical Anthropology, Community Health, Urban anthropology, Applied/Activist Anthropology, Social Inequality.

Claire came to the Center for Critical Human Survival Issues with the excitement to explore familiar issues and “critical events” from new perspectives. Events she has organized have examined the changing cultural priorities of development, the symbolism behind public health language on dirt, the representation of terrorism, the state’s response to disasters, and the protection of research subjects in practice.

In her doctoral fieldwork in 2008-09, Claire explores the culturally specific forms of resilience lived by women in one slum in Delhi, India. Through such diverse acts as creating healthy bodies with few resources, making healing environments amidst pollution, and persisting individually when abandoned by others, women emphasized how their actions demonstrated the quality of their individual and collective character—what might be called their souls. Referring alternatively to their soul, strength, endurance, and qualities of character, she argues that women in this community used their daily work as evidence of their own pure—and spiritually sound—soul. Her research interests are probably too many—they include medical anthropology, kinship, public/applied anthropology, urban (and increasingly rural) anthropology, poverty, race, environment, and research ethics. She is currently writing up her dissertation in Tel Aviv, Israel.

In her next project, Claire intends to bring together applied anthropology and community development. She hopes to work with organizations in central Virginia and Delhi on community-based participatory research that will investigate the concerns of low-income residents and apply their findings toward policy.

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