CLAS Supplementary Start-up Funds: Kristin Hedges
My primarily research interests are linked to gender inequality and health; including HIV/AIDS, juvenile justice, and substance abuse. 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 Maasai tribe from 2000 to 2003. I have continued to work with this same community since 2000. 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.
My current project in Kenya is a new area of research for me that was requested by the local Maasai community I work with. The project is working with local Maasai healers to document medicinal plants. Maasai traditional ecological knowledge of local herbs supplied many of the healing properties needed for typical household health concerns. However, this component of heath care is currently threatened. This project attempts to understand how health care seeking behaviors are changing in response to modernity and poverty. This project works with community healers in Narok, Kenya 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. There are a number of different student research opportunities available on this project. If interested, please contact Dr. Kristin Hedges (firstname.lastname@example.org ) to set up a meeting.