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Amy Cooper, Ph.D.

Associate Chair
Associate Professor

Courses Taught

Cultural Anthropology, Medical Anthropology, Global Mental Health, Introduction to Anthropology


Ph.D., The University of Chicago
M.A., The University of Chicago
B.S., Georgetown University, School of Foreign Service

Research Interests

My research examines medical systems as sites of political struggle and transformation. As a cultural and medical anthropologist I use qualitative research methods such as ethnography to understand the power dynamics of medical encounters, cultural constructions of health and illness, mental health and psychiatric practice, and medical activism. For over fifteen years, I have conducted ethnographic research on the meaning of health and health care in urban Venezuela, Cuba, and the United States. My first book State of Health: Pleasure and Politics in Venezuelan Health Care under Chávez is available from the University of California Press and mainstream booksellers. My second book project examines how biomedicine’s colonial legacy has systemically limited efforts to promote health and develops evidence-based alternatives to conceptualizing health that expand biomedical paradigms.

For more information about my research and teaching please see my personal webpage: click here.

On sabbatical Spring 2023

Publications and Media Placements

For a complete list of publications and media placements please click here.

Andaya, Elise and Amy Cooper. (Under revision). “Resilience: On Living Through the End Times.”

Ansari, David and Amy Cooper. (2022). Introduction to Special Issue: Therapeutic Apprenticeship. Special Issue, “Therapeutic Apprenticeship,” Medicine Anthropology Theory 9(1): 1-12 (open access)

Cooper, Amy and Oscar Feo. (2022). The Rise and Fall of Barrio Adentro. NACLA – Report on the Americas 54(1): 74-78.

Cooper, Amy. (2020). Weathering the Coronavirus in Venezuela. NACLA – Report on the Americas 52(3): 241-244.

Cooper, Amy. (2019). State of Health: Pleasure and Politics in Venezuelan Health Care under Chávez. Berkeley: University of California Press.

Cooper, Amy and Lisa McGee (2017). “At Such a Good School, Everybody Needs it”: Contested Meanings of Prescription Stimulant Use in College Academics. Ethos 45(3): 289-313

Cooper, Amy. (2017). Moving medicine “Inside the neighborhood”: The political symbolism of place in Venezuelan public health. Special Issue, “Therapeutic Landscapes,” Medicine Anthropology Theory 4(1): 20-45 (open access).

Cooper, Amy (2015). The Doctor’s Political Body: Doctor-Patient Interactions and Political Belonging in Venezuelan Neighborhood Clinics. American Ethnologist 42: 459-474.

Cooper, Amy (2015). What does health activism mean in Venezuela’s public health system? Understanding community health work in political and cultural context. Special issue, “Community health workers and social change,” Annals of Anthropological Practice 39: 58-72.

Cooper, Amy (2015). Time Seizures and the Self: Institutional Temporalities and Self Preservation among Homeless Women. Culture, Medicine, and Psychiatry 39(1): 162-185.

Cooper, Amy, Robert Samet, and Naomi Schiller, Eds. (2015). Protests and Polarization in Venezuela After Chávez. Field Sites – Hot Spots. Cultural Anthropology Online (open access).