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Dr. Kristin Hedges
As an applied medical anthropologist, my primary research interests focus on using community-based research approaches to understand local cultural construction of health, illness, and risk. I am drawn to questions of structural vulnerability and how local contexts impact health and healing.
I was a Peace Corps Volunteer in Kenya and lived with the Narok Maasai community, I have continued working in this same community for the past twenty years. I conducted research on the HIV vulnerability of Maasai women. From a cultural perspective, I work to understand how the political and economic circumstances of the women’s lives impact their risk behavior.
In the Southwestern part of the U.S., I worked firsthand for five years with urban at-risk substance using adolescents and observed how gender inequality, poverty, and sexuality play out within this population. I analyzed social welfare systems, reproductive risk, and familial substance use within these populations.
My new research project focuses on Maasai traditional herbal medicine. This project attempts to understand how health care seeking behaviors are changing in response to deforestation, westernization, and poverty. This project will work with community healers to document medicinal herbs, the frequency and characteristics of their use, health care decision making processes, use of traditional medicine versus pharmaceuticals, and the role that traditional medicines play in supporting a healthy lifestyle.Most recently I have begun work on how anthropological skills can assist in health emergencies. I am currently co-chair of the Society for Medical Anthropology Special Interest Group Anthropological Responses to Health Emergencies (ARHE). The overall mission of ARHE is to engage with colleagues working in public health and/or infectious disease in emergency and humanitarian contexts. Our group has worked on the emergencies such as Zika, Ebola, Measles outbreak, and most recently COVID-19.
Recent Media Publications
Anthropological Responses to COVID-19 (August 2020)
The Symbolic Power of Virus Testing - Sapiens.org (April 30, 2020)
Hedges, K. E. (under review) Rites of Passage in Hiding: the dismantling of coming-of-age for Maasai girls. Journal of Youth Studies.
Hedges, K. E. and Kipila, Ole J. (under review) Building the body: The resilience of nurturing practices to build the immune system with traditional medicine among Purko Maasai. Anthropology and Medicine
Hedges, K and Lasco, G (under review). Medical Populism of COVID-19 Testing. Open Anthropological Research
Hedges, K (under review) Maasai girls’ experiences of Ukimwi ni Homa (AIDS is a fever): Idioms of vulnerability and HIV risk in East Africa. Human Organization
Hedges, K. E.; Kipila, Ole J; Cariedo-Ostos, R. ‘(2020) There are no trees here’: understanding intergenerational erosion of traditional medicinal knowledge among Kenyan Purko Maasai in Narok District. Journal of Ethnobiology Vol. 40. Issue 4: 535-551
Hedges, K (2016) Pubertal timing and substance abuse treatment outcomes: an analysis of early menarche on substance use patterns. Journal of Child and Adolescent Substance Abuse. DOI:10.1080/1067828X.2016.1171186
Hedges, K (2015) Who dropped Whom? - An analysis of school dropouts among substance using populations. Practicing Anthropology. Vol. 37. Issue 1.
Hedges, K (2012). A Family Affair: contextual accounts from addicted youth growing up in substance using families. Journal of Youth Studies. Vol. 15. No. 3: 257-272
Hedges, K. (2012) Teens in the gray zone: The structural violence of substance using youth being raised in the system. Human Organization. Vol. 71, Issue 3: 317-325