Ian Whitmarsh, PhD

Associate Professor
Director, Medical Anthropology
Graduate Program
Department of Anthropology, History &
Social Medicine
University of California
San Francisco, CA, USA


Dr. Whitmarsh is a Associate Professor of Medical Anthropology at the University of California, San Francisco, CA, USA. He is the author of Biomedical Ambiguity: Race, Asthma, and the Contested Meaning of Genetics in the Caribbean (2008 Cornell University Press) and co-editor with David S. Jones of Whats the Use of Race: Modern Governance and the Biology of Difference (2010 MIT Press). He is currently completing a book on the intersection between Protestantism and biomedical techniques of care, based on ethnographic research in Trinidad and Tobago and Northern California.

Research Interest

His research interests include: Structural, religious, and psychoanalytic logics in new forms of care. This work draws on social theory, particularly Levi-Strauss and Lacan, rethinking of the secular, and Caribbean studies. He has analyzed the transnational trade in genomic research on the African diaspora; asthma as a modern condition; and pleasures and dangers construed around diabetes and violence.

Scientific Activities


• (2000-Present) American Ethnological Association
• (2000-Present) Society for Medical Anthropology
• (1999-Present) American Anthropological Association



1. Ian W. The No/Name of the Institution. Anthropological Quarterly. 2014; 87(3): 855-881. doi:10.1353/anq.2014.0041
2. Vincanne A, Burke NJ, Whitmarsh I. Slow Research: Thoughts for a Movement in Global Health. Medical Anthropology. 2014; 33: 179-197. doi:10.1080/01459740.2013.858335
3. Ian W. Troubling Environments: Postgenomics, Bajan Wheezing, and Lévi-Strauss. Medical Anthropology Quarterly. 2013; 27(4): 489-509. doi:10.1111/maq.12061.
4. Ian W. American Genomics in Barbados: Race, Illness, and Pleasure in the Science of Personalized Medicine. Body and Society. 2011; 17: 2.
5. Ian W. Hyperdiagnostics: Postcolonial Utopics of Race-Based Biomedicine. Medical Anthropology. 2009; 28(3): 285-315. doi:10.1080/01459740903073554
6. Ian W. Medical Schismogenics: Compliance and Culture in Caribbean Biomedicine. Anthropological Quarterly. 2009; 82(2): 453-482.
7. Ian W. Biomedical Ambivalence: Asthma Diagnosis, the Pharmaceutical, and other Contradictions in Barbados. American Ethnologist. 2008; 35(1): 1-15. doi:10.1111/j.1548-1425.2008.00005.x
8. Bailey, Don B Jr, Skinner D, Davis A, Whitmarsh I, Powell C. Ethical, Legal, and Social Concerns about Expanded Newborn Screening: Fragile X Syndrome as a Prototype for Emerging Issues. Pediatrics. 2008; 121(3): e693-e704. doi:10.1542/peds.2007-0820
9. Ian W, Davis A, Skinner D, Bailey D. A Place for Genetic Uncertainty: Parents Valuing an Unknown in the Meaning of Disease. Social Science and Medicine. 2007; (65): 1082-1093.


1. Ian W. The Ascetic Subject of Compliance: The Turn to Chronic Diseases in Global Health. In: Biehl J, Petryna A, eds. When People Come First. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2013.
2. Ian W. Book Review: Promising Genomics: Iceland the deCODE Genetics in a World of Speculation by Michael Fortun. American Anthropologist. 2011; 113(2): 362-363.
3. Ian W. Asthma and the Value of Contradictions. Lancet. 2010; 376: 764-765.
4. Ian W, Jones DS. Governance and the Uses of Race in Whats the Use of Race: Modern Governance and the Biology of Difference. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press; 2010.


1. Ian W, Jones DS. Whats the use of race: Modern Governance and the biology of difference. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press; 2010.
2. Ian W. Biomedical Ambiguity: Race, Asthma, and the Contested Meaning of Genetic Research in the Caribbean. Ithaca, NY, USA: Cornell University Press; 2008.