Rethinking Stigma in Global Health

Stigma is a dreadful, dehumanizing shaming and blaming process, reflecting and reinforcing our beliefs about who has value within society. In this project we are revealing the ways that global health efforts - however well intended - may be inadvertently reinforcing or creating stigma. This is a vitally important project, because there is growing evidence that stigma may be a largely unrecognized driver of illness, affecting many millions globally. Our project blog can be found at

Project Contact
Alexandra Brewis
President's Professor

Project Details

While stigma has long been a core concern in sociology and psychology, it is amazing how little attention it has got in anthropology. This project integrates and synthesizes our ongoing and past field based projects in three different topical areas and in a range of countries to provide some new anthropological insights into why people stigmatize, how it relates to exercises of power, who it damages most, and why it is almost always tied into disease. This includes:

- Our research on Samoa, Paraguay, and the U.S. on the social dimensions of obesity and on weight stigma.
- Our efforts around understand cultural views of sanitation and hygiene efforts (especially related to water insecurity) in a range of countries including Nepal and Haiti.
- Our ongoing interests in understanding the social drivers of common mental health disorders (especially depression and anxiety).

Research Team


This research project is currently open to funding opportunities. For more information, please reach out to the project contact listed above.


Brewis, A., and A. Wutich. 2019. Lazy, Crazy, and Disgusting: Stigma and the Undoing of Global Health. Johns Hopkins University Press.