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About Thurka Sangaramoorthy

Thurka Sangaramoorthy is a medical anthropologist with applied public health experience, having worked in the fields of sexual health and STD/HIV prevention with vulnerable and at-risk populations in international non-profits, state and local health departments, academic institutions and governmental agencies. Her research and teaching interests include the relationships between the everyday lived experiences of individuals and communities and the biopolitics of global health institutions, neoliberal health policies, and enumerative practices. Her population and geographic specialties include vulnerable populations in the United States, the Caribbean and African diaspora, and the mobile poor. Her specific expertise include areas of medical anthropology, science and technology studies, anthropology of medicine, global public health, HIV/AIDS, health disparities, critical race theory, migration, and citizenship.
Dr. Sangaramoorthy's book, "Treating AIDS: Politics of Difference, Paradox of Prevention" is based on her research chronicling how medical, epidemiological, and social constructions of HIV/AIDS link pathology to racial, ethnic, and immigrant identities at a time when critical debates over race, ethnicity, and nation continue to gain traction in academic and public spheres. The project is based on 15 months of ethnographic field research in South Florida, and documents an on-the-ground view of HIV/AIDS prevention programs and their effect on the health and well being of Haitians, a transnational immigrant community long plagued by the stigma of being AIDS carriers. It traces how information and knowledge about HIV/AIDS prevention science circulates and travels from sites of surveillance and regulation to various clinics and hospitals to the social worlds of Haitian immigrants. It documents the everyday practices through which biomedical and public health frameworks reinforce categories of individual and collective difference and naturalize health disparities. It also highlights the specific problems facing diverse immigrant and ethnic communities, and documents how Haitians strategically identify with various institutions and diseases in order to access critical resources that are otherwise unavailable to them. This project demonstrates that a thorough understanding of public health interventions and epidemic diseases must be interdisciplinary and representative of different theoretical frameworks.

Dr. Sangaramoorthy also currently works with colleagues at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) conducting trainings on rapid ethnographic assessments and enhancing the ability of anthropologists to determine frameworks for addressing global health interventions and program development. She spent three years working at the CDC before coming to the University of Maryland, conducting qualitative and ethnographic research in STD/HIV prevention and analyzing public health policies related to health equity and social determinants of health. During her tenure at the CDC, she applied ethnographic theories and methodologies to public health assessments related to commercial sex work, migrant workers, and syphilis outbreaks and helped to design a toolkit for rapid ethnographic assessments that addresses community and structural factors contributing to high rates of STD/HIV.

Dr. Sangaramoorthy is a current recipient of the NIH Health Disparities Research Loan Repayment Program. She is also a past recipient of multi-year grants from the National Institutes of Health, the Association of Prevention Teaching and Research, the Oak Ridge Institute for Science and Education, the Foreign Language and Area Studies Program, and the University of California at San Francisco.

Dr. Sangaramoorthy received her BA from Barnard College in 1998, her MPH from Columbia University in 2002, and her PhD from the University of California, San Francisco and Berkeley in 2008.


Present Assistant Professor, University of Maryland at College Park

Curriculum Vitae


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Medical Anthropology (5)

Health Care Access (5)


Risk, Disease, Subjectivity (3)

Identity and Health (3)

Migration and Disease (2)

Masculinity and Black men (1)