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Vincanne Adams, PhD

Title(s)Professor, Anthro, History, Social Med
SchoolSchool of Medicine
Phone415-502-6483
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    In my capacity as Vice Chair of the Department and Professor in the joint Program in Medical Anthropology (with UC Berkeley), I am committed to making a contribution to knowledge and insight about the interface between health and the capacity for a flourishing life. I directed the graduate programs at Princeton University (1992-2000) and at UCSF (2000-2012) and continue to advise and mentor many graduate students, and I remain devoted to administrative service to further the mission of UCSF. I have published seven books and numerous articles on a wide range of anthropological topics, including: Asian Medical Systems, Reproductive Health, Global Health, Disaster Recovery, Postcolonial Social Theory, Politics of Knowledge, Climate Change, Chemical Harm, and Industrial Food Systems. I am the current editor of Medical Anthropology Quarterly, the flagship journal for the Society for Medical Anthropology. I am co-editor (with Joao Biehl) of the book series Critical Global Health: Evidence, Efficacy, Ethnography with Duke University Press.

    Through national and international collaborations, my scholarly research has always focused on the compromise to flourishing life under conditions of duress. This began with an exploration of how mountaineering and tourism in Nepal produced morbid aspirations among Sherpas of the Everest region. In later work, I documented how the entanglement of politics and medicine in Nepal created a democratic revolution that left a nation nearly entirely dependent on foreign aid in a state of persistent unrest and conflict. In Tibet, my research on women’s health and Tibetan medicine documented how socialist modernity and persistent political surveillance was internalized as assault on sacred conceptualizations of the body, the family, the nation. My work in Tibet also explored the capacity for well-intentioned interventions in safe-motherhood could undermine urgent forms of care and response. This led to a larger body of work tracing the birth of Global Health from its predecessor, International Health, in relation to the deleterious effects of a rising mandate and reliance on quantitative metrics, especially the randomized-controlled trial. In the US, my focus has been on how conditions of neoliberal policy translate into second-order disasters in relation to recovery post-disaster. This includes a book about the effects of disaster capitalism in post-Katrina New Orleans, and also a study in how reliance on volunteerism and charity to reproduce the safety net, including the use of an affective surplus, ultimately undermines resilience and recovery. My current research explores the rise of uncertainty in science in relation to chemical harm, particularly from agrochemical industrial food and food systems. This work has prompted an exploration of the arts of speculation, as well as an investigation of how to teach medical students about the value of food system knowledge.

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    Age, Disruption, and Life Reorganization after Hurricane Katrina
    NIH/NIA R01AG028621Jul 1, 2007 - Jun 30, 2012
    Role: Principal Investigator
    Blood Donation and HIV Prevention in China
    NIH/NIMH R21MH073415Mar 15, 2005 - Feb 28, 2009
    Role: Principal Investigator

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    Collapse Bibliographic 
    Collapse Publications
    Publications listed below are automatically derived from MEDLINE/PubMed and other sources, which might result in incorrect or missing publications. Researchers can login to make corrections and additions, or contact us for help.
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    1. Vincanne Adams. 34. “Tibet on Fire”: Self-Immolation, Affect, and the Global “N of 1”. 2019 Dec 31; 599-620.
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    2. Adams V, Behague D, Caduff C, Löwy I, Ortega F. Re-imagining global health through social medicine. Glob Public Health. 2019 10; 14(10):1383-1400. PMID: 30887910.
      View in: PubMed
    3. Adams V, Craig S, Samen A, Bhatta S. It Takes More than a Village: Building a Network of Safety in Nepal's Mountain Communities. Matern Child Health J. 2016 12; 20(12):2424-2430. PMID: 27048434.
      View in: PubMed
    4. Joao Biehl, Vincanne Adams. The work of evidence in critical global health. Medicine Anthropology Theory | An open-access journal in the anthropology of health illness and medicine. 2016 Sep 13; 3(2):123.
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    5. Vincanne Adams. Introduction: Ethnomedicine and medical anthropology today, in the case of Tibet. Medicine Anthropology Theory | An open-access journal in the anthropology of health illness and medicine. 2016 Sep 13; 3(2):11.
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    6. Vincanne Adams. What is critical global health?. Medicine Anthropology Theory | An open-access journal in the anthropology of health illness and medicine. 2016 Sep 13; 3(2):186.
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    7. Vincanne Adams. Metrics of the Global Sovereign. 2016 Mar 5; 19-54.
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    8. Adams V, Craig SR, Samen A. Alternative accounting in maternal and infant global health. Glob Public Health. 2016 Mar; 11(3):276-294. PMID: 25782602.
      View in: PubMed
    9. Adams V, Burke NJ, Whitmarsh I. Slow research: thoughts for a movement in global health. Med Anthropol. 2014; 33(3):179-97. PMID: 24761973.
      View in: PubMed
    10. Vincanne Adams. 2. Evidence-Based Global Public Health. 2013 Dec 31; 54-90.
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    11. Vincanne Adams. A History of International Health Encounters: Diplomacy in Transition. 2013 Aug 1; 3:41-63.
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    12. Vincanne Adams. Evidence, Ethos and Experiment: The Anthropology and History of Medical Research in Africa. P. Wenzel Geissler and Catherine Molyneux, eds. New York: Berghahn Books 2011; 498 pp. Medical Anthropology Quarterly. 2013 Jun 1; 27(2):b50-b52.
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    13. Vincanne Adams. Charity, Philanthrocapitalism, and the Affect Economy. 2013 Jan 1; 153-175.
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    14. Vincanne Adams. The Making of a Disaster. 2013 Jan 1; 22-54.
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    15. Vincanne Adams. The Other Road to Serfdom: Recovery by the Market and the Affect Economy in New Orleans. Public Culture. 2012 Jan 1; 24(1 (66)):185-216.
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    16. Kathleen Erwin, Vincanne Adams, Phuoc Le. Le « geste glorieux » du don de sang en unité de travail et les désirs postsocialistes en Chine urbaine. Les enjeux du don de sang dans le monde. 2012 Jan 1; 171.
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    17. Adams V, Kaufman SR. Ethnography and the making of modern health professionals. Cult Med Psychiatry. 2011 Jun; 35(2):313-20. PMID: 21541822.
      View in: PubMed
    18. Adams V, Kaufman SR, van Hattum T, Moody S. Aging disaster: mortality, vulnerability, and long-term recovery among Katrina survivors. Med Anthropol. 2011 May; 30(3):247-70. PMID: 21590581.
      View in: PubMed
    19. Puri S, Adams V, Ivey S, Nachtigall RD. "There is such a thing as too many daughters, but not too many sons": A qualitative study of son preference and fetal sex selection among Indian immigrants in the United States. Soc Sci Med. 2011 Apr; 72(7):1169-76. PMID: 21377778.
      View in: PubMed
    20. Vincanne Adams. Encounters with Efficacy. Asian Medicine. 2010 Jan 1; 6(1):1-21.
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    21. Adams V, VAN Hattum T, English D. Chronic disaster syndrome: Displacement, disaster capitalism, and the eviction of the poor from New Orleans. Am Ethnol. 2009 Nov 01; 36(4):615-636. PMID: 20161644.
      View in: PubMed
    22. Vincanne Adams, Michelle Murphy, Adele E Clarke. Anticipation: Technoscience, life, affect, temporality. Subjectivity. 2009 Sep 1; 28(1):246-265.
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    23. Kathleen Erwin, Vincanne Adams, Phuoc Le. Glorious Deeds: Work Unit Blood Donation and Postsocialist Desires in Urban China. Body & Society. 2009 Jun 1; 15(2):51-70.
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    24. Adams V, Erwin K, Le PV. Public health works: blood donation in urban China. Soc Sci Med. 2009 Feb; 68(3):410-8. PMID: 19058887.
      View in: PubMed
    25. Adams V, Novotny TE, Leslie H. Global health diplomacy. Med Anthropol. 2008 Oct-Dec; 27(4):315-23. PMID: 18958783.
      View in: PubMed
    26. Vincanne Adams, Sienna Craig. Global Pharma in the Land of Snows: Tibetan Medicines, SARS, and Identity Politics Across Nations. Asian Medicine. 2008 Jan 1; 4(1):1-28.
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    27. Adams V, Miller S, Craig S, Le PV, Varner M. Informed Consent in cross-cultural perspective: clinical research in the Tibetan Autonomous Region, PRC. Cult Med Psychiatry. 2007 Dec; 31(4):445-72. PMID: 17968637.
      View in: PubMed
    28. Miller S, Le PV, Craig S, Adams V, Tudor C, Tshomo M, Varner M. How to make consent informed: possible lessons from Tibet. IRB. 2007 Nov-Dec; 29(6):7-14. PMID: 18237079.
      View in: PubMed
    29. Vincanne Adams. The Tibetans . Matthew T. Kapstein. The China Journal. 2007 Jul 1; 58:153-155.
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    30. Vincanne Adams. Integrating Abstraction: Modernising Medicine At Lhasa's Mentsikhang. 2007 Jan 1; 29-44.
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    31. Adams V, Miller S, Chertow J, Craig S, Samen A, Varner M. Having a "safe delivery": conflicting views from Tibet. Health Care Women Int. 2005 Oct; 26(9):821-51. PMID: 16214796.
      View in: PubMed
    32. Adams V, Miller S, Craig S, Samen A, Varner M. The challenge of cross-cultural clinical trials research: case report from the Tibetan Autonomous Region, People's Republic of China. Med Anthropol Q. 2005 Sep; 19(3):267-89. PMID: 16222962.
      View in: PubMed
    33. Vincanne Adams, Michele Rivkin-Fish. Contestations of Liberal Humanism Forged in Sexual Identity Politics. 2005 Apr 12; 241-243.
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    34. Vincanne Adams, Michele Rivkin-Fish. The Production of New Subjectivities. 2005 Apr 12; 67-69.
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    35. Vincanne Adams, Michele Rivkin-Fish. The Creation of Normativities as a Biopolitical Project. 2005 Apr 12; 159-161.
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    36. Adams V. Saving Tibet? An inquiry into modernity, lies, truths, and beliefs. Med Anthropol. 2005 Jan-Mar; 24(1):71-110. PMID: 15823898.
      View in: PubMed
    37. Bonnie Urciuoli, Vincanne Adams. Society for Cultural Anthropology. Anthropology News. 2003 Feb 1; 44(2):49-49.
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    38. Nancy Vuckovic, Janelle Taylor, Vincanne Adams. Society for Medical Anthropology. Anthropology News. 2003 Jan 1; 44(1):52-53.
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    39. Vincanne Adams. Randomized Controlled Crime. Social Studies of Science. 2002 Dec 1; 32(5-6):659-690.
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    40. Vincanne Adams. Randomized Controlled Crime: Postcolonial Sciences in Alternative Medicine Research. Social Studies of Science. 2002 Dec 1; 32(5):659-690.
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    41. Ranzini AC, Hale DC, Phentok L, Adams V. Ultrasonographic diagnosis of pelvic echinococcosis: case report and review of the literature. J Ultrasound Med. 2002 Feb; 21(2):207-10. PMID: 11833877.
      View in: PubMed
    42. Vincanne Adams. Establishing proof. 2002 Jan 1; 200-220.
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    43. Vincanne Adams. Social Suffering. American Anthropologist. 1998 Dec 1; 100(4):1063-1064.
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    44. David Holmberg, Vincanne Adams. Tigers of the Snow and Other Virtual Sherpas: An Ethnography of Himalayan Encounters. Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute. 1997 Jun 1; 3(2):403.
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    45. Vincanne Adams. Dreams of a Final Sherpa. American Anthropologist. 1997 Mar 1; 99(1):85-98.
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    46. Vincanne Adams. Karaoke as Modern Lhasa, Tibet: Western Encounters with Cultural Politics. Cultural Anthropology. 1996 Nov 1; 11(4):510-546.
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    47. Vincanne Adams. Moral Knowing in a Hindu Sacred City: An Exploration of Mind, Emotion, and Self. By Steven M. Parish. New York: Columbia University Press, 1994. xii, 342 pp. $49.50 (cloth); $17.50 (paper). - The Rulings of the Night: Ethnography of Nepalese Shaman Oral Texts. By Gregory G. Maskarinec. Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 1995. xi, 276 pp. $65.50 (cloth); $22.95 (paper). - The Householder's World: Purity, Power, and Dominance in a Nepali Village. By John N. Gray. Delhi: Oxford University Press, 1995. xv, 302 pp. Rs 450 (cloth). The Journal of Asian Studies. 1996 May 1; 55(2):510-512.
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    48. VINCANNE ADAMS. Claiming the High Ground: Sherpas, Subsistence, and Environmental Change in the Highest Himalaya. STANLEY F. STEVENS. American Ethnologist. 1996 Feb 1; 23(1):196-197.
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    49. Vincanne Adams. Tourism and Sherpas, Nepal Reconstruction of reciprocity. Annals of Tourism Research. 1992 Jan 1; 19(3):534-554.
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    50. Vincanne Adams.. BOOK: Tigers of the Snow and Other Virtual Sherpas: An Ethnography of Himalayan Encounters Princeton University Press, 1996.
    51. Vincanne Adams.. BOOK: Doctors for Democracy: Health Professionals in the Nepal Revolution Cambridge University Press (Series in Medical Anthropology), 1998.
    52. Vincanne Adams and Stacy L. Pigg.. BOOK: Sex and Development: Science, Sexuality and Morality in Global Perspective Durham: Duke University Press 2005.
    53. Vincanne Adams, Sienna Craig and Mona Schrempf.BOOK: Medicine Between Science and Religion: Explorations on Tibetan Ground London: Berghahn Publishers 2010.
    54. Vincanne Adams.. BOOK: Markets of Sorrow, Labors of Faith: New Orleans in the Wake of Katrina Duke University Press 2013.
    55. Vincanne Adams, ed.BOOK: Metrics: What Counts in Global Health Duke University Press 2016.
    56. Michelle Perro and Vincanne Adams.. BOOK: What's Making Our Children Sick? How Industrial Food is causing an epidemic of chronic illness and what parents (and their doctors) can do about it. Vermont: Chelsea Green Publishers, 2018.
    57. Vincanne Adams.. BOOK: (In Progress) Soft Tissue and the Arts of Speculation in the Era of GE Foods.
    58. Vincanne Adams.. BOOK: (in Progress) Preoccupied: Life Under Surveillance in Tibet.