Nancy Scheper-Hughes is Chancellor's Professor of Medical Anthropology Emerita at the University of California, Berkeley where she directs the doctoral program in Critical Studies in Medicine, Science, and the Body. Scheper-Hughes' lifework concerns the violence of everyday life examined from a radical existentialist and politically engaged perspective. Her examination of structural and political violence, of what she calls "small wars and invisible genocides" has allowed her to develop a so-called 'militant' anthropology, which has been broadly applied to medicine, psychiatry, and to the practice of anthropology. She is perhaps best known for her books on schizophrenia among bachelor farmers in County Kerry (Saints, Scholars and Schizophrenics: Mental Illness in Rural Ireland) and on the madness of hunger, maternal thinking, and infant mortality in Brazil (Death without Weeping: the Violence of Everyday Life in Brazil). During the early 1980s she undertook an ethnographic study on the deinstitutionalization of the severely mentally ill in South Boston and on the homeless mentally ill in Berkeley. In 1994-1995 Scheper-Hughes moved to South Africa to take up a temporary post as Chair of Anthropology at the Department of Social Anthropology at the University of Cape Town during the political transition. While there she began an on-going ethnographic study of the role of political and everyday violence in the pre and post-transition periods. She has written a series of essays to be published under the title Undoing: the Politics of the Impossible in the New South Africa.
Critical Medical Anthropology, the anthropology of violence, madness and culture, inequality and marginality, childhood and the family, Ireland, Brazil, Cuba, South Africa.