University of Notre Dame
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Terence McDonnellTerence McDonnell

Associate Professor of Sociology
(PhD, Northwestern University)
742 Flanner Hall
(574) 631-7599

Geographic focus: West Africa (Ghana and Nigeria)

Thematic interests: Culture and media, HIV/AIDS and public health, social movements, gender and sexuality, urban studies, theory, methods

Current research: Terry’s recent research explains why HIV/AIDS media campaigns often fail to change peoples’ belief and behavior in response to the disease. Understanding people’s creativity is at the core of this work. He finds that communities often use AIDS campaigns in unexpected ways—women reconstitute female condoms as bangle bracelets and people decorate their homes with AIDS advertisements. Work from this project was recently published in the American Journal of Sociology and won an honorable mention for the Geertz Prize in Cultural Sociology. For his next project Terry turns his attention to developing a sociology of misinterpretation.

Selected publications:

  • Best Laid Plans: Cultural Entropy and the Unraveling of AIDS Media Campaigns (University of Chicago Press, 2016)

  • "Cultural Objects as Objects: Materiality, Urban Space, and the Interpretation of AIDS in Accra, Ghana,” The American Journal of Sociology 115, 6 (2010)

  • “The (re)Presentation of an Epidemic in Everyday Life,” Social Psychology Quarterly 71 (2008)

  • With Gary Alan Fine, “Erasing the Brown Scare: Referential Afterlife and the Power of Memory Templates,” Social Problems 54 (2007)

  • With Wendy Griswold and Erin Metz McDonnell, “Glamour and Honor: Going Online and Reading in West African Culture,” Information Technology & International Development 3 (2007)

  • With Wendy Griswold Nathan Wright, “Readers and Reading in the Twenty-First Century,” Annual Review of Sociology 31 (2005)

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