Megan Alexander

Osman Balkan is a Ph.D. candidate in the department of Political Science at the University of Pennsylvania. His research interests include the politics of migration, transnationalism and diasporas, Islam in Europe, race and ethnicity, governmentality, and necropolitics. Situated at the intersection of comparative politics, political theory and anthropology, his dissertation examines the funerary practices of Muslim minorities in Europe in order to better understand the different registers through which symbolic, material and affective ties to national and political communities are constructed and performed. He is particularly interested in the networks and actors that help facilitate the repatriation of the dead for burial, and what such groups might tell us about the ways in which relations between authority, territory, and populations are managed, rationalized, organized, and legitimated at a transnational level.


NorthWell Headshots

Melissa Basile is a medical anthropologist currently working as a researcher in the area of implementation and dissemination science. Her research is focused on processes of deliberation and decision making for patients with advanced chronic lung diseases such as cystic fibrosis and COPD, and the ways in which individuals negotiate lay and biomedical knowledge systems in order to understand and make decisions about their treatments. Melissa has spent many years conducting participatory fieldwork among community based organizations in health care and development, and in using qualitative methodologies to gain insight into how patients understand disease and illness. She has written and presented on the social theory of embodiment, personhood, and the anthropology of education and is currently working on applying these bodies of theory to ethnographies of end-of-life care.


ericaborgstrompicErica Borgstrom is a trained anthropologist with an interest in medical anthropology and dying studies. She currently holds the Foundation for the Sociology of Health and Illness Mildred Blaxter Postdoctoral Fellowship at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine. Her work ethnographically explores end of life care in England. She examines ‘choice’ in relation to policy,  and it’s translation into practice, as well as the experiences of those living with chronic and/or terminal illness. Outside of the university Erica is Membership Secretary of the Association for the Study of Death and Society and a co-convenor of the British Sociological Association Study Group for the Social Aspects of Death, Dying and Bereavement. Her previous research looked at medical education and palliative care. Erica regularly teaches medical sociology and medical anthropology.


KateDeanHaidet-portraitKate Dean-Haidet, Ph.D., MSN recently received a doctorate in Comparative Studies from the Ohio State University.  Her interdisciplinary research is an ethnography of grief and mourning conducted in multisite hospice and bereavement spaces.  In this work, she relies on scholarship from comparative philosophy/religion, cultural anthropology, and narrative studies to interrogate particular ways that relationship between the living and the dead is imagined, narrated, somatically perceived, and ritually enacted by contemporary American mourners.  She has presented her research nationally and internationally to diverse disciplinary audiences and hopes to publish this work soon.  Previously, Kate taught university coursework in holistic nursing while working as a volunteer during the AIDS epidemic.  This work galvanized her interest in questions of how to “die well.”  In her holistic nursing practice, she employed the use of herbal medicine, energy therapies, dream work, yoga, meditation, and music.  Kate currently works as an educator, consultant, and bereavement counselor at an Ohio hospice where she occasionally plays her Celtic harp. Her current interests include phenomenological approaches to studying affective dynamics in mourning; curiosity about what constitutes “spirituality” in end-of-life care; appropriation of Buddhist philosophy & practice in American culture; theories of personhood; and the rise of feminist ethics as counterpoint to justice and principle based ethics in palliative/hospice health care practice.



lemosdekker2-nNatashe Lemos Dekker is a PhD candidate at the medical anthropology department at the University of Amsterdam. Her research focuses on social processes and the management of death and dying with dementia. She scrutinizes the notion of social death and critically assesses the politics of death and dying by questioning normative conditions for the production of lives worth living. Through ethnographic fieldwork in nursing homes in the Netherlands, she addresses how notions of a good death relate to end of life decision making and the provision of long term care for people with dementia. In doing so she explores anticipation of the end of life and experiences of grief and loss. Within this research project, and specific to the Dutch context, she addresses the challenges and motivations for euthanasia in the case of dementia, and implementations of the palliative care tool Zorgpad Stervensfase (a Dutch version of the Liverpool Care Pathway) in a nursing home setting. Previously, she has conducted field research in Buenos Aires, Argentina on bereavement and political action among women who have lost family members during the dictatorship. She holds an MA in gender and ethnicity studies and an MA in cultural anthropology, both from Utrecht University.


NoraNora Rose Downey received her Bachelor’s Degree in Anthropology from the University of Massachusetts Amherst in 2012.  After graduation she took the opportunity to live in South Korea and learn Korean Taoist Meditation, Kouk Sun Do.  It was an intensive immersion in an ancient practice that broadened her appreciation for the continuum between life and death.

A long-time hospice volunteer, Nora is very interested in differing practices for, and approaches to, end-of-life care.  She is especially interested in the ways in which medical institutions facilitate meaning, dignity, and peace for dying patients and their families.  Currently, Nora is in the process of applying to medical school and hopes to apply the perspective she gained from her various experiences, and the field of medical anthropology, to her practice specializing in palliative end-of-life care.



 J. Harold Ellens, Ph.D.  is a retired university professor of Philosophy and Psychology, retired Presbyterian Theologian and Pastor, retired US Army Chaplain (Colonel), Executive Director Emeritus of the Christian Association for Psychological Studies, and Founding Editor and Editor in Chief Emeritus of the Journal of Psychology and Christianity. He has published extensively in the interface of psychology and religion/spirituality. His recent publications include The Destructive Power of Religion (4 vols, 2004), Psychology and the Bible (4 vols., with Wayne Rollins, 2004). He has authored, coauthored, or edited 230 published volumes, 178 professional journal articles, and 285 review articles. He is a psychotherapist in private practice. He may be contacted at and at



Devin Flaherty, M.A. is a graduate student in psychological and medical anthropology at the University of California, Los Angeles.  She currently studies hospice care in the U.S. Virgin Islands, a context in which she pursues her research interests which include the imagination, phenomenology, fatal prognoses and death.


SuzanneGoldblattClark-portraitSuzanna Goldblatt Clark is a Ph.D. candidate in cultural/medical anthropology at the City University of New York Graduate Center. Her dissertation looks at end of life care in the context of neonatal intensive care units.  Her research focuses on the impact of technoscientific possibility on medical culture and the inconstant criteria that are used to measure viability and mark vitality. The work looks at how decisions to withhold or withdraw aggressive curative treatment are shaped by the social relationships, cultural realms, macroeconomic forces and the material realities of the NICU. More broadly Suzanna is interested in ethical challenges in medicine, healthcare economics, technological-biological interfacing, personhood, suffering and narrative medicine.


golomskiDr. Casey Golomski is a cultural and medical anthropologist working in sub-Saharan Africa. His research explores the interplay of medicine and religion in social reproduction across the life course. Topically, he is interested in healthcare and healing, aging, death and dying, the body, ritual and religion, and work, value and risk. In his professional service, he is an associate editor for the African Journal of AIDS Research and a board member for the Northeast Workshop on Southern Africa. Dr. Golomski has published in Material Religion, Anthropology Southern AfricaSocial Dynamics, and American Ethnologist. He recently completed a book in review for publication on cultural change surrounding death, dying and funerals amid AIDS in Swaziland and is beginning new work on eldercare, race and dependency in South Africa. Golomski is an Assistant Professor of Anthropology at the University of New Hampshire and an associate of the Life Course, Obligation and Dependency research unit at the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg.


James GreenJames W. Green, Ph.D. I am a recently retired anthropologist, having taught for many years at the University of Washington in Seattle. Currently I am part of a hospital team investigating the practices and skills of interpreters in cases where families speak little or no English and English-speaking physicians deliver the unhappy news of brain death, a medical term inexplicable in some cultures. We are aiming for a training protocol for physicians since little is available on the topic. In addition, I regularly present to visiting international medical students on our state’s death with dignity law and associated medical issues. “Beyond the Good Death, the Anthropology of Modern Dying” was published in 2008, an outgrowth of my most popular course, the comparative study of death. A current writing project examines how the medical literature handles the terms “spiritual” and “spiritual care” with end of life patients, a topic rife with problems of conceptual clarity and one where medical anthropology might have something useful to say. When not dealing with these grim matters, I pursue my real interest, wine collecting.


CoriCori Hill Heymann is currently a senior undergraduate student at Eastern Oregon University studying anthropology and sociology. Her senior research includes an ethnographic study of the ‘Death Doula’ movement in the United States. Cori also works full time in the managed healthcare industry (17 years) and continues to observe how private healthcare plans are (or are not) underwritten to support end-of-life care, as well as how medical management programs may influence end-of-life treatment. She is a direct patient support volunteer for hospice and hosts the Winston-Salem Death Café in North Carolina, where she resides. Cori is also the webmaster for SMA’s Dying and Bereavement Special Interest Group.


Sadaf Noor E Islam


JoralemonDonald Joralemon ( is Professor  of Anthropology at Smith College. His B.A. is from Oberlin College (1974) and his doctorate from the University of California, Los Angeles (1983). Professor Joralemon has done fieldwork in Peru and in the United States. He has published widely on shamanism and, most recently, on medical ethics. He is the co-author (with Douglas Sharon) of Sorcery and Shamanism (1993) and author of Exploring Medical Anthropology (Fourth edition in preparation). His article, “Dying While Living: the Problem of Social Death,” appears in the edited collection Our Changing Journey to the End (C. Staudt and J. H. Ellens, Praeger, 2014). The journal Mortality recently published his article, “Ordering Chaos: The Process of Remembering Mass Murder” (2015). His new book, Mortal Dilemmas: The Troubled Landscape of Death in America (Left Coast Press) was recently published in January 2016.


HadiKarsoho-portraitHadi Karsoho is a Ph.D. candidate in sociology and social studies of medicine at McGill University. His doctoral thesis is centered on Carter v. Canada, the ongoing landmark court case that is shaping up to be the most significant legal challenge to Canada’s Criminal Code prohibitions on euthanasia and assisted suicide since Rodriguez v. British Columbia in 1993. By following the unfolding of the series of events and the diverse actors associated with the case, Hadi is able to investigate contemporary questions on death and dying that lie at the intersection of law, medicine, and ethics. Hadi considers himself an interdisciplinary scholar having received training in both quantitative and qualitative research methods and from multiple disciplines. Hadi holds a bachelor of arts degree in mass communications from University of California, Berkeley. From 2011-2013, he was a doctoral fellow in Health Care, Technology, and Place, a Canadian Institutes of Health Research strategic training initiative based at the University of Toronto. In 2014-2015, he holds a Wolfe graduate fellowship in scientific and technological literacy. 


Hiroaki “Hiro” Kawamura


1252559_07_JRBarbara A. Koenig, Ph.D., is Professor, Institute for Health & Aging, University of California, San Francisco.  She is an anthropologist who works in the inter-disciplinary field of bioethics.  She helped found the Center for Biomedical Ethics at Stanford University (and was on the faculty from 1993 through 2005); from 2005 to 2011 she created and led the Biomedical Ethics Research Program at Mayo Clinic.

Koenig pioneered the use of empirical methods in the study of ethical questions in science, medicine, and health.  Her current focus is emerging genomic technologies, including: biobanking, return of research results to participants, the use of whole genome sequencing in newborn screening, and using deliberative democracy to engage communities about research governance. Dr. Koenig has been continuously funded by NIH since 1991.  Currently, she co-directs a “Center of Excellence in ELSI Research” at UCSF, leads an NCI ROI on return of results in genomic biobanks, and directs the ELSI component of a U19 award focused on newborn screening in an era of whole genome analysis. She has been an active participant in federal policy, including the “Secretary’s Advisory Committee on Genetic Testing.” Her most recent book is Revisiting Race in a Genomic Age.


Koller_2014_1Veronika Koller is Senior Lecturer at the Department of Linguistics and English Language at Lancaster University (UK). Her research interests ae in discourse analysis and metaphor, which she applies to health communication, corporate discourse, and langugae and sexuality. Her publications include Metaphor and Gender in Business Media Discourse (Palgrave 2004), Handbook of Communication in the Public Sphere (co-edited with Ruth Wodak, de Gruyter 2008) as well as numerous book chapters and journal articles. Her most recent work addresses issues of metaphor, cancer and the end of life.


AniaAnna E. Kubiak is the cultural anthropologist, associate professor in the Institute of Philosophy and Sociology of the Polish Academy of Sciences and a lecturer in Collegium Civitas in Warsaw, Poland. She is the author of books: Delicacy and the Left Krishna’s Hand (IFiS, Warsaw 1997), However NEW AGE (Santorski & Co, Warsaw 2005), Nostalgia and other longing (Stopka, Łomża 2007), OTHER DEATHS. Anthropology of dying and mourning in late modernity (Universitas, Warsaw 2014), Funerals are our lives (IFiS PAN, Warsaw 2015). Her research interests include death studies, bioethics and visual anthropology. After publishing her article on euthanasia and physician aid in dying titled: Assisted dying in the context of biopower ( she is planning the book on this topic. More:


Betty profile pictureBetty Wolder Levin is a professor in the Department of Health and Nutrition Sciences at Brooklyn College and is also affiliated with the Department of Public Health at the CUNY Graduate Center and the CUNY School of Public Health.  She holds a PhD in  Sociomedical Sciences with a specialization in Anthropology from Columbia University.  She began studying decision making in neonatal intensive care units in 1977 and has worked on ethical issues in public health, pediatrics and end-of-life care since that time.


Susan OSusan Longrpett Long, PhD.   Trained in cultural and medical anthropology and East Asian Studies at University of Michigan (A.B.) and University of Illinois (A.M., Ph.D), I was hired at John Carroll University with the task of starting up an East Asian Studies program.  I served as that program’s director for many years, and as a member of the Sociology department, introduced anthropology courses to a university that had never had an anthropologist.  I regularly teach such courses as Introduction to Anthropology, Medicine and Culture, Public Health, Japanese Society, East Asian Medicine, Japanese Popular Culture, and Sex and Gender.

My research has focused on family change, care of the elderly, and the cross-cultural study of bioethical issues surrounding the end of life in Japan and the United States.  My research has been published in numerous journals and book chapters, including Mortality, Journal of Cross-Cultural Gerontology, Journal of Japanese Studies, Social Science and Medicine, and Cambridge Quarterly for Health Care Ethics.  My ethnography on ethical issues at the end of life, Final Days:  Japanese Culture and Choice at the End of Life (University of Hawaii Press, 2005) was awarded the Hsu Book Prize for by the Society for East Asian Anthropology in 2006.  I have also edited or co-edited several multi-authored volumes and am currently working on an edited volume on the anthropology of death. (


MasenyaVeronica Masenya is from the University of the Free State in South Africa. I am a first year Sociology Lecturer and  doctoral candidate both in Sociology and Anthropology at the same University. My ethnographic study aims at exploring why people invest so much material and social capital to commemorate the death of their loved ones, even if it result in bankruptcy. I aim to look at different burial practices and procedures and how does that translate in the lives of people. Death had become a commodity globally and locally, I want to tap into the meaning and impact of that commercialisation.


Megan Stamey McAlvain is a PhD student at the University of Connecticut, and is interested in the Death Doula movement in the US and the UK. She joins the Dying and Bereavement Interest Group in order to connect with other colleagues and researchers who currently research or have researched end of life care in alternate forms, and especially those outside the western biomedical model.


Aimee Middlemiss


Cortney Hughes Rinker is Assistant Professor in the Department of Sociology and Anthropology at George Mason University. Her academic interests are in aging, end-of-life care, the treatment of pain, Islam, science and technology, public policy, and applied anthropology. She conducts ethnographic fieldwork in Morocco and the Washington, D.C. area.


Robben Nov 2010Antonius C.G.M. Robben is Professor of Anthropology at Utrecht University, the Netherlands, and past President of the Netherlands Society of Anthropology. He received a Ph.D. (1986) from the University of California, Berkeley, and has been a research fellow at the Michigan Society of Fellows, Ann Arbor, the Harry Frank Guggenheim Foundation, New York, and the David Rockefeller Center, Harvard University. His most recent books include the ethnography Political Violence and Trauma in Argentina (Penn 2005), which won the Textor Prize from the American Anthropological Association in 2006, and the edited volumes Death, Mourning, and Burial: A Cross-Cultural Reader (Wiley-Blackwell 2004), Ethnographic Fieldwork: An Anthropological Reader (Wiley-Blackwell 2007 & 2012; co-edited with Jeffrey Sluka), Iraq at a Distance: What Anthropologists Can Teach Us About the War (Penn 2010), and Necropolitics: Mass Graves and Exhumations in the Age of Human Rights (Penn 2015; co-edited with Francisco Ferrándiz).


Atiba Rougier holds a BA in Philosophy and Anthropology from Union College, an MA in Philosophy and Religion with a focus on Asian and Comparative Studies from the California Institute of Integral Studies and an MA in Social and Cultural Anthropology from  The New School for Social Research with a focus on Death & Dying, Palliative Care, and  Biomedical Ethics.

Atiba is currently Lecturer/Adjunct Professor at John Jay College of Criminal Justice. Prior  to this, in 2015, he was the Director of Grants and Curriculum Development at The Humanities Action Lab at Eugene Lang College. From 2010 – 2015 Atiba taught at Charter Schools in Brooklyn and Queens. In the of summer 2014, he was awarded a fellowship with the New York City Food Bank where he was responsible for implementing the required curriculum for the New York City Food Bank AfterSchool Summer Fellowship in the Brooklyn District.

He holds research fellowships from The Program in Medicine and Human Values at California Pacific Medical Centre (2008); The Posse Foundation (2013); Revitalize New York (2013 – 2014) New York City Food Bank (2014) and the India China Institute (2014 – present). In the summer of 2015 with a grant from the India China Institute, he conducted research in Bhopal, India, with survivors of the Union Carbide Gas Leak of December 1984.

Publications/Articles: The JapaneseAmericanExperience during WWII (2015); “to die like a dog” (2008); Atiba has two forthcoming publications, The Importance of Storytelling—Caring and Sharing in the Neoliberal Present (2016) and Reflections on Bhopal (2016)


Carrie Ryan



Dr. Sherry R. Schachter the Director of Bereavement Services for Calvary Hospital / Hospice where she develops, coordinates, and facilitates educational services for staff and families. She facilitates weekly bereavement groups for bereaved spouses/partners, adults whose parents have died and parents who have lost adult children. Dr Schachter also directs Camp Compass®, the hospital’s weeklong summer camp for bereaved children and adolescents. Dr Schachter is a recipient of the prestigious Lane Adams Award for Excellence in Cancer Nursing from the American Cancer Society and for over thirty years has worked with dying patients and their family caregivers. In addition, she is the past president of the Association for Death Education and Counseling The Thanatology Association (ADEC) and a member of the International Work Group on Death, Dying and Bereavement (IWG).  Dr Schachter has a private practice in New York City and Pennsylvania, writes a monthly column for Journeys, a publication from the Hospice Foundation of America and also publishes and lectures on issues related to dying, death and loss.


Professional       Margaret Souza is an Associate Professor at SUNY/Empire State College. Her research focuses on the process of dying in the US and the various ways in which different participants understand and respond to the process. She also conducts research about individuals living with chronic (often considered terminal) diagnoses as well as bereavement as a social process. She began the Special Interest Group on Death and Bereavement in the Society for Medical Anthropology to provide the increasing number of scholars in this area with a opportunity to share their research and provide information regarding conferences and events that would be of interest to the participants. Before earning a PhD in medical anthropology from The New School, she worked as a clinical social worker for 20 years in acute and long term care medical settings. She also holds a MSW from Wayne State University.


Karen Spence

Halina Suwalowska


Ken_West_picMy name is Ken West. I spent 45 years working in UK cemeteries & crematoria. I obtained the Diploma of the Institute of Burial & Cremation Administration (IBCA) in 1974, and the Diploma in Management Studies (DMS – Credit) and Diploma of the Institute of Leisure and Amenity Management (ILAM) with distinctions in 1991. I was awarded the MBE by HRH Queen Elizabeth in 2002 and an Honorary MA by Durham University in 2012.

Having destroyed barn owl habitat in my early cemetery horticultural work during the 1960’s, I was able to develop wildflower conservation by the 1980’s and took this to another level by opening the world’s first natural burial site in 1993. Subsequently, I proposed and then wrote the Charter for the Bereaved (1995), and after retirement, wrote ‘A Guide to Natural Burial’ in 2010 and ‘R.I.P. Off! or The British Way of Death’ in 2012. This black humour novel is an attempt to create a genre that encourages people to read about and understand death and funeral issues. My website is entirely death related and includes issues on the environment, sustainability and funeral poverty as well as a more detailed CV, see My interests are gardening, cycling and running, with my lifetime running mileage now exceeding 64,000 miles. I live in Christchurch, Dorset, with Ann, just four minutes from the sea, where we kayak in summer.



Hi! My name is Teresa ‘Lilly’ White, M.A. My BSLS is in communications, with an emphasis on Death, Dying, and Medical Ethics from Montana State University-Billings. My B.A. and M.A. in Forensic Anthropology are from the University of Montana. I have applied to the Ph.D. program at UM, in Medical Anthropology and Forensic Anthropology. I have been a volunteer with Park County Hospice; LifeCenter Northwest and the Living Legacy; former Livingston, Montana Medical Ethics Board Member; Critical Incident Stress Management team member in Flathead County; have completed the FEMA training and my application for DMORT VIII is waiting for the hiring freeze to lift. My dissertation is focusing on what happens to homeless, indigent, and unclaimed individuals when they pass away. I will be doing ethnographic studies and also planning to do a short film/documentary.