Michelle Parsons, PhD, MA, SM

Michelle Parsons Assistant Professor
Northern Arizona University
Blg 65 Rm #242


  • Medical Anthropology
  • Social Epidemiology
  • Global Health
  • Gender
  • Anthropological Demography
  • Postsocialism
  • Russia


  • PhD, MA, Anthropology - Emory University, 2011
  • SM, Population and International Health - Harvard School of Public Health, 2000
  • BA, Human Biology - Stanford University, 1995



My central focus is the application of sociocultural anthropology to health inequality and global/public health practice. More specifically I am interested in how political economy gives rise to social relations which, in turn, influence health and health research/interventions. 


My first project applied ethnographic methods to the Russian mortality crisis of the 1990s, which is the subject of a substantial epidemiology literature. My book Dying Unneeded: The Cultural Context of the Mortality Crisis revolves around the gendered idea of being unneeded--having nothing to offer others. I explore how being unneeded relates to the concept of social capital and its use in quantitative analyses.

I am currently working on an ethnography of a global health project, addressing perinatal healthcare, surveillance, and donor ethics. I am also developing a project on mortality disparities in the Northern Arizona context which will use both quantitative and qualitative methods.

I have done global health research on HIV/AIDS testing and counseling, medication use, menopause, and reported health at Harvard School of Public Health and the World Health Organization.



  •  Medical Anthropology
  • Concepts and Methods in Cultural Anthropology
  • Anthropological Theory
  • Anthropology of Eastern Europe
  • Anthropology and Global Health
  • Foundations of Global Health
  • Gender in Global Health
  • The Cultural Context of Fertility and Mortality