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Anthony Di Fiore, Chair SAC 4.102, Mailcode C3200 78712 • 512-471-4206

Elizabeth Lewis

B.A. Carleton College, M.A. University of Chicago, Ph.D. student (ABD) at the University of Texas



My research examines the dynamics of disability categories, with a focus on shifting conceptions of deafblindness and multiple disabilities over recent decades. Broadly speaking, I am interested in the dynamics of making sense of difference.  How do global trends in new understandings of these diagnostic categories take shape in localized spaces, initiatives, and bodies? In what ways do spectrums engender both the inclusion and objectification of particular impairments? My dissertation, funded by the Wenner-Gren Foundation, incorporates anthropological theories of health, disability, affect, and the everyday to probe how new approaches to disability unfold within the intimacy of daily life.

I have extensive research, professional, volunteer, and personal experience related to disability.  I have conducted ethnographic research on disability in multiple sites in the U.S., Guatemala, Nicaragua, and Ghana, and have volunteered for international and local disability projects in the U.S., as well as South and Central America.  My dissertation research on shifting understandings of multiple disabilities in the U.S. is closely informed by my previous international work, and I am increasingly interested in the way that local and global networks create new types of disability worlds for family members, individuals with disabilities, and professionals.  

I have taught introduction to anthropology, as well as a course on the anthropology of health and illness, and I am extremely interested in incorporating anthropological and interdisciplinary perspectives on disability in my future courses.  I have professional and volunteer experience in a variety of educational settings, which include teaching bilingual courses to unaccompanied youth migrants, tutoring low-income middle schoolers in Chicago, volunteering at an art studio for adults with disabilities, teaching English at a preschool in Ecuador, and assisting children with disabilities and non-disabled orphans at a residential facility in Bolivia.   

Dissertation Supervisor: Dr. Kathleen Stewart


Disability, health, the everyday, affect, kinship, caregiving, ethnographic writing, the U.S.
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