My research combines approaches from medical anthropology, gender studies and science and technology studies to explore the gendered social consequences of aging, illness, sexual health problems and related medical treatments. Broadly, I am interested in the relationships between gender (especially masculinities), new medical technologies/areas of medicalization, and people’s sex lives and senses of self. My research has focused on Mexico, where gender norms and links between ethnicity, biology and sexuality are widely discussed and hotly contested. In a new study of emerging "men's health" medicine, I am widening my scope to examine how local ideas of gender and sexuality are shaping the emergence of a new medical field - and its effects on patients' lives and bodies - in comparative global context.
My forthcoming book, "Collective Biologies: Healing Mexican Gender, Race and Family though Medical Research Participation," draws on research based in the Cuernavaca arm of a multinational, longitudinal study of human papillomavirus (HPV) occurrence in men. In this book, I analyze the ways that people's collective rather than individual ideas of biology - based in Mexican cultural understandings of race and society - enabled them to use men's sexual health research participation to further goals outside the clinic. Spouses collaboratively used their research-related experiences to live out self-consciously modern marriage and gender, and to heal bio-social ills on the levels of the couple, family, religious congregation, and Mexican populace, despite economic and narcoviolence crises that threatened these bodies' well-being.
My 2013 book "Maturing Masculinities: Aging, Chronic Illness and Viagra in Mexico" (Duke UP), along with related articles, explores the ways that older, working-class Mexican men rejected the notion that “erectile dysfunction” should be treated medically to incorporate decreasing erectile function into their evolving forms of masculinity.
Finally, I am committed to raising anthropology’s profile in interdisciplinary health research. To this end, I co-edited a 2012 volume, "Medical Anthropology at the Intersections": Histories, Activisms and Futures" with Marcia Inhorn, and collaborate with scholars from a variety of disciplines on mixed-methods studies of gendered health practices in Mexico.
Publications from all of these projects can be found at https://uiowa.academia.edu/EmilyWentzell.
I also serve as the Faculty Director of the University of Iowa’s International Studies BA program.
Graduate student supervision: I am accepting PhD students interested in researching the emerging relationships between scientific fields or technologies (medical or otherwise) which mediate gender and sexuality, and people's lived experiences of intersectional identity (including but not limited to gender, sexuality, race, class, age cohort, and "disability"). I am especially enthusiastic about mentoring projects relating to masculinities or Latin America, but open to wider ranging topics and places. Students who seek to work with me should be interested in doing in-depth placed-based fieldwork, and performing holistic analysis of the ways that economic and political structures and inequalities, as well as socio-cultural contexts and histories, influence people's lived experiences. I am happy to talk with potential students to help determine if they might be a good fit for our program and for me as an advisor, and generally only accept students who have contacted me in advance of their application. Interested students should e-mail me with a brief description of their PhD research interests and request a phone conversation.
ANTH:2100 Anthropology and Contemporary World Problems
ANTH:3101 Anthropology of Sexuality
ANTH:3102 Medical Anthropology
ANTH:3111 Health in Mexico
ANTH:3117 Using Ethnographic Methods
ANTH:5101 Seminar: Sociocultural Anthropology
ANTH:6310 Anthropology of Science, Technology and Gender