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Alexandra Brewis-Slade

President's Professor
Faculty, TEMPE Campus, Mailcode 2402
President's Professor
Faculty, TEMPE Campus, Mailcode 2402
Distinguished Sustainability Scientist
Faculty, TEMPE Campus, Mailcode 2402
President's Professor
Faculty, TEMPE Campus, Mailcode 2402
Biography: 

Visit her personal web page for more details about her research, lab team, blog, approach to instruction, etc. 

Alexandra Brewis, Ph.D., is an anthropologist and President’s Professor in the School of Human Evolution and Social Change at Arizona State University. She is an elected fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), and recently served as President of the Human Biology Association. Particularly concerned with how culture, health, and human biology collide, she develops large team-based transdisciplinary global health and environmental projects around the globe, addressing such complex topics as water insecurity, obesity, and stigma.

She has published five books and over 150 articles. Her most recent book (with Amber Wutich) is Lazy, Crazy, and Disgusting: Stigma and the Undoing of Global Health, described in reviews as a "boundary-breaking book that should be required reading for anyone interested in public health, medicine, and anthropology. It stands as an exemplar for public scholarship."

Alex was trained in human biology, cultural-medical anthropology, and demography at the University of Auckland, University of Arizona, and Brown University. Before joining ASU in 2005, she taught at University of Auckland and University of Georgia. 

Committed to innovation in instruction, she developed and launched the nation's first and still largest global health degree. As an ASU administrator, she founded the Center for Global Health in 2006 and served as Director of the School of Human Evolution and Social Change (2010-2017) and Associate Vice President for Social Sciences (2014-2017).

 

Education: 
  • Ph.D. Anthropology, University of Arizona 1992
  • M.A. Anthropology, University of Auckland 1988
  • B.A. Anthropology, University of Auckland 1986
Research Interests: 
  • Consequences of stigma for health and human biology
  • The intersection of povertygender, and vulnerability
  • Biological, medical, demographic, and nutritional anthropology.
  • Social dimensions of weight gain and obesity.
  • Biocultural consequences of water insecurity
  • Mixed method community-based research design and implementation.
  • Program monitoring and evaluation innovation for international development in low-resource settings.
  • Cross-cultural, comparative, multi-sited research.
  • Field experience: Pacific islands (Kiribati, Samoa, New Zealand, Fiji), Mexico (Xalapa, Veracruz, and Mexico-US border towns), the US (rural Georgia, urban Arizona), and clinical settings (Mayo Clinic). Current projects in Haiti and Mozambique

Research Group: 

I co-lead the Culture, Health and Environment Laboratory (CHEL) with Amber Wutich. Some current and recent collaborative research efforts include:

The Global Ethnohydrology Study (PI, Amber Wutich) is a multi-year transdisciplinary project based in our lab using data collected with local communities from around the globe. The goal is to better theorize how people understand and adapt to the everyday challenges of climate changes, such as getting enough safe water, and to explicate the health and psychological impacts of that struggle. This is one of the primary projects students in our lab collaborate on, learning social science research skills. 

Rethinking Stigma and Global Health is a major synthetic project with Amber Wutich that explores how stigma is deployed accidentally and purposefully as a public health tool, using cases of hygiene, mental health, and obesity. This is about revealing the unintended consequences for creating illness and reinforcing poverty around the globe, and identifies strategies to address it. A book is forthcoming with Johns Hopkins University Press.

Global Impact Collaboratory (GIC) is about testing of new methods how we know when development projects are actually “working” from the perspectives of the people on the ground they are meant to serve. Peggy Ochandarena, former Director of Monitoring, Evaluation, and Learning at Chemonics International, is the external co-Director, and I am the ASU director. Signature activities are being conducted in coastal Mozambique on climate change adaptation, Haiti on advancing access to justice, and the West Bank on gender-based violence.

HWISE: Household Water Insecurity Experiences is a large collaborative multi-sited multi-institution study of water insecurity and its impacts across the globe. PIs are A. Wutich, W. Jepson, J. Stoller, and S. Young,  funded by an NSF-RCN to Texas A&M as lead. My role is collabrating on research to understand the contexts and consequences of household water sharing, and the connections between food and water insecurity, and I serve on the steering committee. 

I am PI of Small World/Big Bodies, a cross-cultural, comparative, multi-phased, data-driven study of how and why stigma toward obesity is spreading globally, even as obesity itself becomes more prevalent, and the consequences of this powerful process. The first community-based phases of the project were based in low-income neighborhoods in Phoenix, Arizona in 2006-7. To date, we have collected data in 19 countries, and produced two books and myriad journal articles. Currently, we are focused on a collaborative ethnographically-focused project comparing what it is to live with a large body in four countries (Japan, USA, Paraguay, Samoa). In 2017, our lab launched two new studies of global “fat-talk” with Cindi SturtzSreetharan as lead, one comparing its’ linguistic and social functions and meanings in 9 very diverse countries, and the other as a local Arizona-based citizen science project on bodies, fat-talk, and aging being conducted with seniors. Other recent activities include completed analyses of large secondary datasets from around the globe, including Norway, Korea, and Guatemala.

DevilSPARC Freshman Study tracked 1450 university freshmen and their weight, nutrition and exercise over an academic year, collecting data on multiple aspects of friends and friendship networks. Data collection was completed in mid 2016, and project is now finalizing publications. Nutritionist Meg Bruening is PI.

Living Large and Eyes of the City are two citizen social science projects based in the urban Phoenix area. They use new models of citizen social science to collect hard-to-capture data on how weight stigma shapes daily lives – including people’s exposure to fat-talk, weight-excluding physical environments, and other discrmination. The project considers also how the physical and social challenges of aging, gender, and minority ethnicity intersect with those of weight, working closely with Arizona citizen-collaborators. Linguist Cindi SturtzSrretharan is PI.

Better Post-Bariatric Lives is a recently completed clinic-based study (using ethnography and survey) done in partnership with Mayo Clinic, to understand the role of stigma in shaping weight regain after bariatric surgery. A book-length ethnography is under contract with NYU Press, with Sarah Trainer as lead author. 

Publications: 

For a list of publications, see the CV on the Biography page.

Fall 2020
Course NumberCourse Title
ASB 452Commnty Partnrshps Global Hlth
ASB 484Internship
ASB 492Honors Directed Study
ASB 493Honors Thesis
ASB 499Individualized Instruction
ASB 590Reading and Conference
ASB 592Research
ASB 790Reading and Conference
ASB 792Research
ASB 799Dissertation
Summer 2020
Course NumberCourse Title
ASB 300Food and Culture
ASB 590Reading and Conference
ASB 792Research
ASB 799Dissertation
Spring 2020
Course NumberCourse Title
ASB 300Food and Culture
ASB 484Internship
ASB 492Honors Directed Study
ASB 493Honors Thesis
ASB 499Individualized Instruction
ASB 584Internship
ASB 590Reading and Conference
ASB 592Research
ASB 790Reading and Conference
ASB 792Research
ASB 799Dissertation
Summer 2019
Course NumberCourse Title
ASB 300Food and Culture
Spring 2019
Course NumberCourse Title
ASB 484Internship
ASB 492Honors Directed Study
ASB 493Honors Thesis
ASB 499Individualized Instruction
ASB 580Practicum
ASB 590Reading and Conference
ASB 592Research
ASB 790Reading and Conference
ASB 792Research
ASB 799Dissertation
Summer 2018
Course NumberCourse Title
ASB 305Poverty and Global Health
Spring 2018
Course NumberCourse Title
ASB 484Internship
ASB 492Honors Directed Study
ASB 493Honors Thesis
ASB 499Individualized Instruction
ASB 580Practicum
ASB 590Reading and Conference
ASB 592Research
ASB 790Reading and Conference
ASB 792Research
ASB 799Dissertation
Fall 2017
Course NumberCourse Title
ASB 484Internship
ASB 492Honors Directed Study
ASB 493Honors Thesis
ASB 499Individualized Instruction
ASB 580Practicum
ASB 584Internship
ASB 590Reading and Conference
ASB 592Research
ASB 790Reading and Conference
ASB 792Research
ASB 799Dissertation
Summer 2017
Course NumberCourse Title
ASM 414Urban and Environmental Health
SOS 414Urban and Environmental Health
ESS 514Urban and Environmental Health
SSH 792Research
Spring 2017
Course NumberCourse Title
ASM 246Human Origins
ASB 484Internship
ASB 492Honors Directed Study
ASB 493Honors Thesis
ASB 499Individualized Instruction
ASB 580Practicum
ASB 590Reading and Conference
ASB 592Research
ASB 790Reading and Conference
ASB 792Research
ASB 799Dissertation
Fall 2016
Course NumberCourse Title
ASM 246Human Origins
ASB 484Internship
ASB 492Honors Directed Study
ASB 493Honors Thesis
ASB 499Individualized Instruction
ASB 580Practicum
ASB 584Internship
SSH 590Reading and Conference
ASB 590Reading and Conference
ASB 591Seminar
ASB 592Research
ESS 790Reading and Conference
SSH 790Reading and Conference
ASB 790Reading and Conference
ESS 792Research
SSH 792Research
ASB 792Research
SSH 799Dissertation
ASB 799Dissertation
ESS 799Dissertation
Summer 2016
Course NumberCourse Title
SOS 320Society and Sustainability
SOS 414Urban and Environmental Health
ESS 514Urban and Environmental Health
SSH 792Research
Spring 2016
Course NumberCourse Title
ASM 246Human Origins
ASB 484Internship
ASB 492Honors Directed Study
ASB 493Honors Thesis
ASB 499Individualized Instruction
ASB 580Practicum
ASB 590Reading and Conference
ASB 592Research
ASB 790Reading and Conference
ASB 792Research
ASB 799Dissertation