Carolyn Sargent

Professor of Sociocultural Anthropology and of Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies​ (Affiliate)
PhD, Michigan State University
research interests:
  • Translation as Illness Experience
  • The Social Course of Illness
  • The Transnational Production of Community
  • Immigration and Health
  • Anthropology of Cancer
  • The Politics of Reproduction
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    ​Professor Sargent's research and teaching are primarily situated in the domain of gender and health, with a particular focus on reproduction, medical decision making, and the management of women's health in low-income populations.

    Sargent has worked in West Africa (Benin, Mali), in Jamaica, and for the last seven years have been conducting fieldwork in France on reproduction and representations of family among migrants from the Senegal River Valley now residing in Paris. Most recently, her writing has focused on how colonial and postcolonial relations between France and its former West African colonies in the context of the global economy have shaped the policies and politics of state institutions responsible for managing immigrant populations. She is interested in how women-as migrants, wives and mothers-routinely negotiate these structures of inequality. Theoretically, she is interested in questions of agency, structure and resistance. She has also explored how Islam shapes the discourse of migrant men, especially those housed in worker hostels, provokes debates on women's autonomy in Europe and influences women's reproductive decisions and marital relations.  Her research in progress involves West African and North African immigrants living with breast cancer in France, and the collective production of meanings about this condition.  This project will explore how the experience of cancer leads to negotiations, reconfigurations, and reworkings of personal and family biographies.

    She is past president of the Society for Medical Anthropology.  Serving as president was an opportunity to better grasp the breadth and diversity of the field, and to participate in shaping the association's directions, projects, and structure.

    Selected Publications

    Forthcoming, 2017. African Medical Pluralism. Indiana University Press. (with William Olsen).
    Forthcoming, 2017. (with James Kennell) Elusive Paths, Fluid Care: Seeking Healing and Protection in the Republic of Benin. In African Medical Pluralism, William Olsen and Carolyn Sargent, eds. Indiana University Press. 
    2016 (with Stephanie Larchanche) Transnational Health Care Circuits: Managing Therapy among Immigrants in France and Kinship Networks in West Africa. In Affective Circuits: Transnational Migration and Intimacies of Care. Jennifer Cole and Christian Groes, eds. University of Chicago Press.
    2016 (with Anita Chary) Blending Western Biomedicine with Local Healing Practices. AMA Journal of Ethics. Volume 18, Number 7: 691-697.

    2010 (with Carole Browner) Globalization, Reproduction, and the State. Duke University Press.

    2009 (with Caroline Brettell) Gender in Cross-Cultural Perspective, Fifth Edition, Revised. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall.

    2007 Discordant Discourses: How Midwives and Interpreters Mediate Social and Clinical Dilemmas Affecting Malian Migrants in Paris (with Stephanie Larchanche-Kim). Body and Society, Sage Press. Special Issue,, pp. 79-103. Islam and the Body, guest editors Diane Tober and Debra Budiani.

    2006 Reproductive Strategies and Islamic Discourse: Malian Migrants Negotiate Everyday Life in Paris, France. In Medical Anthropology in the Muslim World. Medical Anthropology Quarterly Special Issue 20(1): 31-50.

    2006 (with Carolyn Smith-Morris) Questioning Our Principles: Anthropological Contributions to Ethical Dilemmas in Clinical Practice. Cambridge Quarterly of Healthcare Ethics 15(2), Spring .

    2006 (with Caroline Brettell, guest editors) Migration, Identity, and Citizenship: Anthropological Perspectives. American Behavioral Scientist 50(1).

    2006 (C. Sargent, guest editor) Medical Anthropology in the Muslim World. Medical Anthropology Quarterly Special Issue 20(2).

    2005 (with Stephanie Larchanche and Samba Yatera) The Evolution of Telecommunications in the Context of Transnational Migration. Paris: Hommes et Migrations 1256:131-140.

    2005 Counseling Contraception for Malian Migrants in Paris: Global, State, and Personal Politics. Human Organization 64(2):147-156.

    2003 Gender, Body, Meaning: Anthropological Perspectives on Self-Injury and Borderline Personality. Philosophy, Psychiatry and Psychology 10(1): 25-29.

    1997 (with Robbie Davis-Floyd) Childbirth and Authoritative Knowledge. Berkeley: University of California Press.

    1996 (with Caroline Brettell) Gender and Health. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall

    1996 (with Thomas Johnson) Medical Anthropology: A Handbook of Theory and Method. Second Ed., Revised. Westport, Connecticut: Greenwood/Praeger.

    1989 Maternity, Medicine and Power: Reproductive Decisions in Urban Benin. Berkeley: University of California Press.

    African Medical Pluralism

    African Medical Pluralism

    In most places on the African continent, multiple health care options exist and patients draw on a therapeutic continuum that ranges from traditional medicine and religious healing to the latest in biomedical technology. The ethnographically based essays in this volume highlight African ways of perceiving sickness, making sense of and treating suffering, and thinking about health care to reveal the range and practice of everyday medicine in Africa through historical, political, and economic contexts.