Kathleen Musante

  • Professor Emeritus

Kathleen Musante is a cultural anthropologist whose main research interests are in medical anthropology and the anthropology of food and nutrition. She draws on perspectives from both bio-cultural anthropology and political economy. She has a secondary appointment in the Department of Behavioral and Community Health Sciences in the Graduate School of Public Health, and currently serves as the Director of the Center for Latin American Studies.

In particular she has interests in the health and nutrition impacts of economic and agricultural development policies in Latin America; child survival and adult health in developing countries; nutrition and health of older adults and youth in rural settings in the United States; and health decision making in pluralistic settings. She is a qualitative methodologist and a specialist in the use of participant observation in ethnographic research.

She has carried out research in Mexico, Honduras, Brazil, Ecuador, and Kentucky.

Research Description

Her current research examines the health and nutrition of indigenous peoples of the Ecuadorian Amazon, and the impact of 20 years of income generating projects for women on the social power of women and the welfare of their children in Manabí Province, Ecuador.



Anthropology of Food

Undergraduate Seminar. This course will examine the social ecology of human nutrition. It will apply the concepts and principles of anthropology to the study of human diet and nutrition. Discussions will focus on the origins of the human diet; human dietary adaptation to diverse ecological and technological situations; behavioral and ecological factors that influence diet in technologically simple, modernizing and contemporary societies; and social/cultural meanings and implications of food behaviors.

Medical Anthropology 2

This course offers a survey of selected topics in contemporary medical anthropology. Topics to be covered may include cross-cultural and biocultural approaches to the study of sickness and healing, critical approaches to the study of biomedicine, interpretive approaches to ethnomedical systems, meaning-centered approaches to understanding the experience of suffering and pain, and the social construction of illness and healing. Special topics investigated include the anthropology of the body and sexuality, and physician-patient communication. Other topics can be added in accordance with student interests.