6047 Silsby Hall
Hanover, NH 03755
lauren.e.gulbas at dartmouth.edu
As a cultural and medical anthropologist, I have a long-standing interest in the study of gender and the body through empirical ethnographic research methods. My work is grounded in the theoretical premise that lived experiences cannot be understood without considering the complex, multiple intersections among gender, race, and class. Accordingly, my research explores how race, class, and gender inequalities shape cultural meanings and embodied experiences of health and illness, as well as how individuals navigate medical diagnosis and access treatment for suffering. Over the years, my research has become more collaborative and interdisciplinary, cross-cutting fields of anthropology, psychology, public health, and social work.
Pro-Anorexia: How eating disorders take shape in the online world
In this project, I examine how individuals interact in cyberspace to celebrate emaciated bodies and share knowledge of anorexia with other participants, exploring how pro-anorexia participants negotiate dominant ideas of femininity in order to create and/or restrain the production of specific representations of the body. I consider how website patrons utilize biomedical diagnostic criteria associated with anorexia nervosa to justify their pursuit of starvation.
The democratization of plastic bodies: Cosmetic surgery in Hugo Chávez’s Venezuela
In this project, my principal aim has been to situate the practice of plastic surgery in relation to the socioeconomic transformations of Hugo Chávez’s Bolivarian Revolution. The political mandates of Hugo Chávez allow plastic surgery to be performed free of charge in public hospitals. I argue that although state-funded medicine attempts to reduce disparities in healthcare, including access to plastic surgery, it has the perverse effect of empowering individuals to prioritize aesthetic surgical procedures. In this study, I evaluate claims that cosmetic surgery improves self-esteem, emphasizing how the clinical ethos of objectivity maintained by cosmetic surgeons obscures how patients’ decisions to have cosmetic surgery are strongly tied to experiences of racial, class, and gender marginalization.
Understanding Latina teen suicide attempts
In collaboration with Dr. Luis Zayas at the George Warren Brown School of Social Work at Washington University in St. Louis, this research has been motivated by the sobering public health concern that young Hispanic girls attempt suicide more often than any other cohort of teenagers in the United States. Our research highlights the need for detailed attention to the subtle, but significant, cultural variations that shape gender dynamics within families and influence the etiology of suicidal behavior.
Last Updated: 7/20/11