Sienna Radha Craig

Associate Professor and Chair, Department of Anthropology

The worlds of healing across cultures, the meanings people ascribe to illness, and the social lives of medicines fascinate me. I am also deeply curious about how communities navigate processes of migration and social change. My research takes me to the Nepal Himalaya and Tibetan regions of China.

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As a cultural anthropologist, I am invested in understanding the multiple ways that so-called 'traditional' medical systems interact with biomedicine: from patient-healer relationships and the cultural meanings people ascribe to suffering and affliction; to the wider socioeconomic and political circumstances in which medical practitioners are trained, healing occurs, and medicines are produced, evaluated, and distributed. Much of my work is collaborative, interdisciplinary, and trained on applying critical medical anthropology perspectives and insights to ground truth health care realities in a variety of transnational contexts. I also have an abiding interest in studies of ethnicity and identity, including how experiences of diaspora and exile impact subjectivities, concepts of "health" and health seeking behaviors.

Over the past decade, I have been investigating contemporary Tibetan medicine, both in Nepal and Tibetan areas of China and as a globalizing "complementary and alternative" medicine. I analyze how practitioners of Tibetan medicine transmit knowledge between generations, and how they are professionalizing. I also address the translation of science across cultural, epistemological, and ideological borders by documenting what happens when Tibetan medicines are made to adhere to biomedical standards of drug safety and quality, and as they are evaluated through clinical research in Asia and the West. In Nepal and China, where I work, these dynamics reflect nation-building agendas and the politics of identity; they also illuminate an expanding global market for complementary and alternative medicines and point to the ethical, economic, and environmental challenges inherent in producing traditional medicines for mass markets.

I first traveled to Nepal in 1993, on an undergraduate study abroad program, and have been returning to this part of the world ever since. My earliest ethnographic work centered on ethnoveterinary practices and human-animal interactions, with a specific focus on the role of the horse in local culture and economy, as well as in religious symbolism and ritual practice, as well as life in pastoral communities at moments of intense and rapid socio-economic change. The research I conducted at this time forms the basis of my ethnographic memoir, Horses Like Lightning: A Story of Passage Through the Himalayas. I am committed to writing across genres – from poetry and creative nonfiction to children’s literature and narrative ethnography. 

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Curriculum Vitae Personal Website
(603) 646-9356
403B Silsby
HB 6047
Department:
Anthropology
Education:
B.A. Brown University (1995)
M.A. Cornell University (2002)
Ph.D. Cornell University (2006)

Selected Publications

2013 Children’s Medicines in Tanzania: A National Survey of Administration Practices and Preferences. L.V. Adams, S. Craig, E.J. Mmbaga, H. Naburi, T. Lahey, C. Nutt, R. Kisenge, G.J. Noel, S.P. Spielberg. PLoS One. Online open access: http://www.plosone.org/article/info:doi/10.1371/journal.pone.0058303. 

In Preparation Medicine in the Mountains: Environment, Development, and Health in High Asian Communities. S. Craig and K. Bauer. Lebanon, NH: University Press of New England. Under contract, manuscript submission date: January 2013.

2012 Social Suffering and Embodied Political Crisis. Cultural Anthropology, special “Hot Spots” online issue on self-immolations in Tibet, R. Litzinger and C. McGrannahan, eds. Online access: http://www.culanth.org/?q=node/526 .

2012 Healing Elements: Efficacy and the Social Ecologies of Tibetan Medicine. Berkeley: University of California Press.

2011 Asian Medicine: Tradition and Modernity 5(2), special issue on Medicinal Plant Cultivation, Conservation and Commoditization in the Himalaya and Tibet. S. Craig and D. Glover, eds. Leiden: Brill.

2011 Effectiveness of a sports-based HIV prevention intervention in the Dominican Republic: a quasi experimental study. Z. Kaufman, RL Welsch, JD Erickson, S. Craig, L.V. Adams, D.A. Ross. AIDS Care DOI:10.1080/09540121.2011.608789.

2011 Migration, Social Change, Health, and the Realm of the Possible: Women’s Stories from Nepal to New York. Anthropology and Humanism 36(2):193-214.

2011 Conservation, Cultivation, and Commodification of Medicinal Plants in the Greater Himalayan – Tibetan Plateau. S. Craig and D. Glover. Asian Medicine: Tradition and Modernity 5(2): 219-242, Leiden: Brill.

2011 “Good” Manufacturing by Whose Standards? Remaking Quality, Safety, and Value in the Production of Tibetan Pharmaceuticals. Anthropological Quarterly 84(2): 331-378.

2010 [2011]  “Not found in Tibetan Societies”: Culture, Childbirth, and a Politics of Life on the Roof of the World. Himalaya 30(1):46-60.

2010 Medicine Between Science and Religion: Explorations on Tibetan Grounds. V. Adams, M. Schrempf, and S. Craig eds. London and New York: Berghahn Books.

2010 Taking the MINI to Mustang, Nepal: Methodological and Epistemological Translations of Illness Narrative Interviews. S. Craig, L. Chase, and T.N. Lama. Anthropology and Medicine 17(1): 1-26.

2011 Migration, Social Change, Health, and the Realm of the Possible: Women's Stories from Nepal to New York. Forthcoming (2011) in Anthropology and Humanism.

2010 From Empowerments to Power Calculations: Notes on Efficacy, Value, and Epistemology." In V. Adams, M. Schrempf, and S. Craig, eds. Medicine Between Science and Religion: Explorations on Tibetan Grounds, London and New York: Berghahn Books.

2010 Introduction: A gso ba rig pa Sensibility, V. Adams, M. Schrempf, and S. Craig. In V. Adams, M. Schrempf, and S. Craig, eds. Medicine Between Science and Religion: Explorations on Tibetan Grounds. London and New York: Berghahn Books.

2010 Introduction: Tibetan Medicine at the Crossroads, S. Craig, F. Garrett, M. Schrempf, and M. Cuomo. In S. Craig, M. Cuomo, F. Garrett, and M. Schrempf, eds. Studies of Medical Pluralism in Tibetan History and Society: Proceedings from the 11th International Association of Tibetan Studies Meetings. Bonn: Institute of Tibetan and Central Asian Studies.

2010 Taking the MINI to Mustang, Nepal: Methodological and Epistemological Translations of Illness Narrative Interviews. S. Craig, L. Chase, and T.N. Lama. Anthropology and Medicine 17(1): 1-26.

2009 Pediatric Therapeutics and Medicine Administration in Resource Poor Settings: A Review of Barriers and an Agenda for Interdisciplinary Approaches to Improving Outcomes. S. Craig, L.V. Adams, S. Spielberg, and B. Campbell. Social Science and Medicine 69: 1681-1690.

2009 Pregnancy and Childbirth in Tibet: Knowledge, Perspectives, and Practices. In H. Selin, ed. Childbirth Across Cultures, New York: Springer, Pp. 145-160.

2009 Global Pharma in the Land of Snows: Tibetan Medicines and Identity Politics Across Nations, S. Craig and V. Adams. Asian Medicine: Tradition and Modernity 4(1): 1-28. Amsterdam: Brill.

2008 Place and Professionalization: Navigating Amchi Identity in Nepal. In L. Pordié, ed. The World of Tibetan Medicine: Contemporary Trends in the Politics of Medical Knowledge and Practice, London: Routledge, Pp. 62-90.
**Volume was awarded the International Convention of Asian Scholars (ICAS) Book Prize, August 2009. ICAS is based in Leiden, Netherlands, and awards this highly competitive prize biannually.

2008 From Butter Tea to Pepsi: A Rapid Appraisal of Food Preferences, Procurement Sources, and Dietary Diversity in a Contemporary Tibetan Township. T. Dickerson, D. Fernandez, Topgyal, A. Samen, Geleg, Nyima, G. Pelto, S. Craig, T. Dye. Ecology of Food and Nutrition, 47(1): 229-253.

2008 Horses Like Lightning: A Story of Passage through the Himalayas . Boston, MA: Wisdom Publications.

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Works in Progress

2012-2015 Genes, Fertility, and Reproductive Histories of Ethnically Tibetan Women in Nepal,a research project in collaboration with Prof. Cynthia Beall (Case Western Reserve University) and Assoc. Prof. Geoff Childs (Washington University- St. Louis), funded by a grant from the National Science Foundation

2010-2013 “Tibetan Medicine between Local and Global Worlds: Commodification, Standardization, and Clinical Use,” a research project in Qinghai Province, China and the US funded by a grant from the Wenner-Gren Foundation for Anthropological Research

2012-2017 Co-Editor of Himalaya , the journal of the Association of Nepal and Himalayan Studies (ANHS).

2010 – 2011 Qualitative Research Consultant and Medical Anthropologist on New Hampshire State Hand Hygiene Project, in collaboration with Dr. Kathryn Kirkland, MD. A project supported by Dartmouth Hitchcock Medical Center / New Hampshire Hospital Association.

2007 – present OneHEART Worldwide , Medical Advisory Board Member and Current Chair of Medical Advisory Board of non-profit organization dedicated to improving maternal and neonatal health in Tibetan areas of China and Nepal.

1998 – present Drokpa , Co-Founder of a small grassroots non-profit organization dedicated to supporting social entrepreneurship, community health, alternative energy and education in the Himalaya and Tibetan Plateau.