Faculty Directory

Nancy Chen
  • Title
    • Professor and Chair
  • Division Social Sciences Division
  • Department
    • Anthropology Department
  • Affiliations Humanities Division, Feminist Studies Department, East Asian Studies, Community Studies Program
  • Phone
    831-459-5198
  • Email
  • Office Location 335 Social Sciences 1
  • Office Hours Wednesday 1:00pm-3pm & By Appointment
  • Mail Stop Social Sciences 1 Faculty Services
  • Courses Taught ANTH-208A- Ethnographic Practice, ANTH-194M- Advanced Topics in Medical Anthropology, ANTH-130C- Culture and Politics of China, ANTH-130G - Asian Americans in Ethnography and Film, ANTH-134- Intro to Medical Anthropology, ANTH-110K- Culture Through Food, ANTH-110J- Intro to Visual Culture

Summary of Expertise

As a medical anthropologist, Nancy Chen focuses on healing practices and health institutions. Her early ethnographic project compared how psychiatry and mental health become national agendas for social integration in Asia while, simultaneously, alternative forms of healing resurged. She has conducted fieldwork in mainland China, primarily, with comparative research in the United States. Her interests include the study of healing narratives, chronic and infectious diseases, traditional medical knowledge, and intersections between the body politic, gender, ethnicity, and medicine.

Chen’s recent research examines the role of biotechnology and the pharmaceutical industries in Asian societies. She regularly teaches on the anthropology of food and focuses on changing meanings of food and medicine.

In addition, Chen is committed to the practice and study of visual anthropology. This includes using ethnographic film history and visual theory to contextualize cultural representations, master narratives and portrayals of identity in addition to promoting ethnographic media production.

Questions of ethnographic research in multisited contexts and urban theory inform Chen’s approach to fieldwork and teaching. She also studies Chinese diasporas and expanding notions of Asian American identify.

Research Interests

Teaching Specialties: Medical anthropology, visual anthropology, food and culture.

Area of Research: food and medicine, Chinese biotechnology, mental health and cross-cultural psychiatry, traditional and alternative healing practices, Asian-American identity.

Area of Fieldwork: China

Biography, Education and Training

Ph.D. Medical Anthropology, UC Berkeley and San Francisco
M.A. Anthropology, UC Berkeley
B.A. Stanford University, Human Biology and Humanities Honors