Major Publications

Chasing Polio” Closser, Svea. Anthropology Now. 2.1 (2010): 32-9.

Published before her full length ethnography, “Chasing Polio” summarizes her fieldwork and findings. She describes a few specific events that took place during her research in Pakistan and claims that the continued transmission of polio is not a factor of culture, as many news sources claim, but one of poverty. Closser draws on the work of Paul Farmer and blames global inequalities,  restricted access to adequate treatment, and poverty for the high prevalence of diseases in low-income areas. Closser challenges international accusations of “corruption” by instead saying that community health workers reist orders because they are underpaid, overworked, and undervalued. The article is incredibly helpful to anyone wanting a brief yet accurate description of the so far unsuccessful eradication campaign in Pakistan.

Chasing Polio in Pakistan: Why the World’s Largest Public Health Initiative May Fail. Closser, Svea. Nashville: Vanderbilt University Press, 2010.

Closser’s full length ethnography is based on twelve months of fieldwork, ten of which were spent in Pakistan. She describes the implementation of the Global Polio Eradication Initiative in Pakistan and argues against common assumptions that Pakistani culture is the reason polio has yet to be eradicated in the country. Instead, Closser proposes that undervalued community health workers do not receive adequate compensation or incentives to fully carry out their duties in a way that would, in theory, eradicate polio. This research provides a new lens from which to view eradication efforts in Pakistan and offers solutions to the Initiative moving forward.

“Culture, status and context in community health worker pay: Pitfalls and opportunities for policy research. A commentary on Glenton et al.” Maes, Kenneth C., Brandon A. Kohrt, and Svea Closser. Social Science & Medicine. 71.8 (2010): 1375-78.

The authors of this article critique Glenton’s assessment of volunteerism in low-income settings. The authors appreciate Glenton’s rejection of volunteerism as a one-size-fits all approach to community health, but find his analysis oversimplified and based on incomplete research. The authors argue that Glenton’s publication will have negative implications for global health and women involved in community health initiatives. In this article, they suggest more rigorous research as a solution to future inadequate analyses and highlight the importance of gender, globalization, preexisting health systems, incentives, and innovation in community analyses.

“Sense and Sustainability: Teaching Sustainability in Global Health” Closser, Svea. Anthropology News. 52.4 (2011): 6.

Closser was inspired to incorporate new lessons surrounding capitalism into her “Global Health” course after realizing many students who could clearly articulate the links between poverty and health inequalities could not connect poverty to the world’s wealth distribution. She used numerous articles and books to spark conversations around sustainability of projects and lifestyles to get her students critically thinking about the links between global inequalities and current capitalistic systems. This approach demonstrates Clossers’ dedication to challenging the assumptions and norms of her students and individuals in privileged parts of the world.