- Ph.D. Cultural Anthropology, Washington University in St. Louis and the Universiteit van Amsterdam, 2017
- Certificate in Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies, Washington University in St. Louis, 2016
- M.A. Cultural Anthropology, Washington University in St. Louis, 2013
- B.S. Biomedical Sciences, The Ohio State University, 2010
My research interests coalesce around maternal death in healthcare facilities. This has come to include scholarly interests in obstetric violence, gendered dynamics in the nursing profession and care provision in biomedical settings, health system financing in ethnographic perspective, and stillbirth and accountability. Other interests include hospital ethnography, theories of care, gendered forms of caring, ethics, bureaucracy and documents, respectful maternity care, and notions of risk for both pregnant women and their healthcare providers.
I am a medical anthropologist with extensive fieldwork experience in Tanzania conducting qualitative and mixed methods ethnographic research in health facilities and communities in remote areas. I chose to pursue medical anthropology as a way to merge my interests in medicine and issues of health equity. With an initial interest in hemorrhagic fevers and tropical infectious diseases, I switched to a focus on maternal and reproductive health after observing an autopsy in 2008 of a woman who had died during labor while I was at a regional hospital in Tanzania. My research projects are primarily based in health facilities where I work closely with nurses, doctors, and health administrators. I also frequently spend time speaking with village leaders, as well as women and men in their homes and communities. To date, I have worked in the Singida, Rukwa, and Kigoma regions of Tanzania. My current book project is about maternal mortality in hospitals and health facilities in the country, examining issues of care, ethics, and accountability to try to answer the question, why do women still die in biomedical facilities after more than 30 years of campaigns to improve these healthcare services in low-resource settings? My most recent field project (2018) focuses on a birth companion program being implemented in the Kigoma region of Tanzania. I use this program as a way to explore locally valued concepts of care and support for pregnant women during pregnancy and while giving birth. The findings from this work provide insights into concepts of disrespect and abuse (otherwise known as obstetric violence), as well as power dynamics in health facilities, and the sociality of reproduction as enacted in the biomedical setting.
Positions and Honors
Positions and Employment
- University of Florida, Assistant Professor, 2018-
- Columbia University Population Research Center, Fellow, 2017-2018
- Columbia University, Mailman School of Public Health Department of Population and Family Health, Postdoctoral Research Fellow, 2017-2018
- Washington University in St. Louis, Department of Anthropology, PhD Candidate, 2014-2017
- Universiteit van Amsterdam, Amsterdam Institute for Social Science Research (AISSR), Health, Care, & the Body Group, PhD Candidate, 2014-2017
Other Experience and Professional Memberships
- New York Academy of Sciences, 2017-present
- Society for Applied Anthropology, 2018-present
- American Ethnological Society, 2016-present
- African Studies Association, 2017-present
- Council on Anthropology and Reproduction, 2012-present
- American Anthropological Association, 2009-present
- Society for Medical Anthropology, 2009-present
- Fulbright Association, 2011-present
- Sigma Xi, 2010- present
- DONA International trained doula (birth attendant), 2013
- Society for Applied Anthropology Peter K. New Award, 3rd Place, 2017
- P.E.O. Scholar Award, 2015-2016
- Society for Medical Anthropology Travel Award, 2015
2018 Strong, A. Routinized Caring or a “Call” to Nursing?: Intergenerational shifts and continuities in nursing in Rukwa, Tanzania. Accepted for In and Out of Biomedicine: Anthropology in the Hospital, eds. William Olsen and Carolyn Sargent, Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press (beginning review process fall 2018).
2018 Strong, A. “We Swim in Blood:” Maternity care providers and perceptions of risk in the work place at a Tanzanian hospital. Human Organization 77(23): 273-286.
2018 Strong, A., M. Cogburn, and S. Wood. “Tanzania” in Birth in 8 Cultures. Eds. R. Davis- Floyd, C.F. Sargent, and M. Cheyney, forthcoming, 2018. Long Grove, IL: Waveland Press.
2018 Strong, A. and D.A. Schwartz. Effects of the Ebola epidemic on health care of pregnant women- Stigmatization with and without infection. In Pregnant in the Time of Ebola. Women and Their Children in the 2013-2015 West African Epidemic, Eds. D.A. Schwartz, S. Abramowitz, and J. Anoko. New York, NY: Springer.
2016 Strong, A. Working in Scarcity: Effects on social interactions and biomedical care in Rukwa, Tanzania. Social Science & Medicine 172:217-224. DOI:10.1016/j.socscimed.2017.02.010
2016 Strong, A. and D.A. Schwartz. Anthropological aspects of risk to pregnant women during the 2013-2015 multinational Ebola virus outbreak in West Africa. Health Care for Women International 36(8): 922-942. DOI:10.1080/07399332.2016.1167896
2015 Strong, A. “The convergence of social and institutional dynamics resulting in maternal death in Rukwa, Tanzania” in Maternal Mortality: Risk Factors, Anthropological Perspectives, Prevalence in Developing Countries and Preventative Strategies for Pregnancy- Related Death. Ed. David Schwartz. Nova Science Publishers
2015 Marwa, S. and A. Strong. “Three case studies and experiences of maternal death at a regional referral hospital in Rukwa, Tanzania” in Maternal Mortality: Risk Factors, Anthropological Perspectives, Prevalence in Developing Countries and Preventative Strategies for Pregnancy-Related Death. Ed. David Schwartz. Nova Science Publishers
Contribution to Science
Maternal Death in Health Facilities
My research on maternal mortality in hospitals in some of the first ethnographic work to specifically examine these spaces and their role in producing maternal deaths. By focusing on the logics, perspectives, goals and challenges facing healthcare workers and administrators, my work significantly expands our understandings of the causes and meanings of maternal death in low-resource settings. Through accountability mechanisms that force healthcare providers to choose their careers or women’s lives, they are put in impossible positions in which systemic change often becomes impossible. Women and their maternity care providers are often at odds, forcing providers into ethical positions that imperil the personally and professionally. The ways in which providers and women invoke, enact, construct, or evade shifting ethical boundaries form and reform the intersubjective social world of the maternity ward and continue to allow maternal deaths to take place in these settings. This work was funded by NSF Doctoral Dissertation Improvement Grant No.1459486 and Fulbright-Hays Doctoral Dissertation Research Abroad Grant No. P022A140021-003.
Ongoing Research Support
Completed Research Support (within the past three years)
National Science Foundation Division of Social and Behavioral Sciences Postdoctoral Research Fellowship (SPRF)- 1714358
- “Sociocultural Practices in Maternal Healthcare”
- 08/01/17-07/31/19 (PI)
National Science Foundation Doctoral Dissertation Improvement Grant- 1459486
- “Doctoral Dissertation Research: An Institutional Ethnography of the Social Dynamics of a Bureaucracy in Historical Context”
Fulbright-Hays Doctoral Dissertation Research Abroad Grant- P022A140021-003
National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship- DGE-1143954