Kellogg Faculty Fellow Vania Smith-Oka is Professor of Anthropology. Smith-Oka is a cultural and medical anthropologist who specializes in the effect of institutions on the behavior and choices of marginalized populations, especially women. She has been a Kellogg Institute faculty fellow since 2007.

She has explored the impact of an economic development program on the reproductive lives and motherhood of indigenous women in eastern Mexico. From this research emerged her book, Shaping the Motherhood of Indigenous Mexico (Vanderbilt, 2013). She also researched the doctor-patient relationship in a maternity ward in the city of Puebla, particularly the role of space/place, notions of social and medical risk, and quality of care.

Her current research is investigating how skills, practices, and attitudes of medicine are transmitted to medical students. She is specifically addressing the process by which practices such as obstetric violence become prevalent across some societies.


ISP Advisee:
Kayla Bucci 

Thematic Interests

Globalization; reproductive health; women's health; ethnobotany; formal and informal health systems

Current Research

How marginal peoples around the world respond to the impact that globalization has on their health needs and local knowledge by looking at how the least powerful members of a community, i.e. women, are responding to this globalization.

Research Sub-Discipline