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Elyse Singer

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Elyse Ona Singer

Assistant Professor
Ph.D. Washington University in St. Louis, 2017; Certificate in Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies

Office: Dale Hall Tower 507


Research Interests

  • Reproduction
  • Abortion
  • End of Life Care
  • Bioethics
  • Reproductive Governance
  • Mexico
  • Health
  • Citizenship
  • Gender
  • The Body


I am a Core Affiliate Faculty in Women and Gender Studies and a Core Affiliate Board Member of the Carceral Studies Consortium here at OU, in addition to being assistant professor of anthropology. As a medical anthropologist, my research and teaching explore bioethical conflicts at the beginning and end of life to engage wider disciplinary conversations about dignity, inequality, moral personhood, and sociopolitical belonging. My work has coalesced around two major ethnographic projects grounded in Mexico on abortion and end of life care. My scholarship places law, religion, and medicine in the same analytic frame to examine how people grapple with ethically extreme decisions about life and death in a context where state law has recently come to contradict other normative moral frameworks for moral reckoning, like religion. My research has been supported by the National Science Foundation, the Wenner-Gren Foundation for Anthropological Research, and the American Association for University Women.

My research interests also animate my work in the classroom, where I strive to trace connections among health, gender, and social inequality through challenging and lively discussion. In my medical anthropology seminar, Bioethics, Biotechnology, and Biomedicine, we reflect on bioethical quandaries in clinical care, medical research, and medical decision-making with regards to genetic testing, organ transplantation, and end of life experience. We ask whether it is reasonable to strive for a universal ethical framework that attends to local moral and cultural diversity as well as the dramatic inequalities that impinge access to adequate medical care around the world. My course Regulating Reproduction: Morality, Politics and (In)Justice, considers the political and moral stakes of reproductive processes such as adoption, abortion, and cryopreservation in cross-cultural perspective. In my upper-division course Body, Power, Culture, I challenge students to think about the body in material, symbolic, and political valences.

Recent Publications

2022  Elyse Ona Singer. Society for Medical Anthropology Statement on Supreme Court Dobbs Vs. Jackson Women's Health Organization Decision, co-authored with Mara Buchbinder, Joanna Mishtal, and Claire Wendland. Medical Anthropology Quarterly DOI: 10.1111/maq.12741 

2022. Elyse Ona Singer. Lawful Sins: Abortion Rights and Reproductive Governance in Mexico. Stanford University Press.

  • Recognized with Honorable Mention for the 2022 Eileen Basker Memorial Prize, sponsored by the Society for Medical Anthropology.

2019. Mounia El Kotni and Elyse Ona Singer. Human Rights and Reproductive Governance in Transnational Perspective. Medical Anthropology: Cross-Cultural Studies in Health and Illness 38(2): 118-122.

2019. Elyse Ona Singer. Abortion Exile: Navigating Mexico's Fractured Abortion Landscape. Culture Health & Sexuality: An International Journal for Research, Intervention and Care. DOI: 10.1080/13691058.2019.1631963

2019. Elyse Ona Singer. Realizing Abortion Rights at the Margins of Legality in Mexico. Medical Anthropology: Cross-Cultural Studies in Health and Illness 38(2):167-181..

2017. Elyse Ona Singer. Lawful Sinners: Reproductive Governance and Moral Agency Around Abortion in Mexico. Culture, Medicine, and Psychiatry 42(1):11-31.

2016. Elyse Ona Singer. From Reproductive Rights to Responsibilization: Fashioning Liberal Subjects in Mexico City’s New Public Abortion Program. Medical Anthropology Quarterly 31(4): 445-463.

Courses Taught

  • Body, Power, Culture: Anthropological Approaches to the Body; ANTH 4953
  • Regulating Reproduction: Morality, Politics, and (In)justice; ANTH 4953
  • Bioethics, Biomedicine, Biotechnology; ANTH 4953
  • Anthropological Perspectives on Health, Healing and Illness; ANTH3243
  • Global Cultural Diversity: An Introduction to Cultural Anthropology; ANTH 2203