Elanah Uretsky

Visiting Assistant Professor of Anthropology

Elanah  Uretsky's photo


Email: euretsky@brandeis.edu
Office: Brown Social Science Center 322
Phone: 781-736-8741
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Medical anthropology, global health, the anthropology of China, gender and sexuality (with a focus on masculinity), governance, HIV/AIDS, chronic disease, borders, ethnic minorities, migration.


  • ANTH 140a - Human Rights in Global Perspective
  • ANTH 140b - Critical Perspectives in Global Health
  • ANTH 178b - Culture and Power in East Asia
  • ANTH 182b - Applied Anthropology
  • IGS 136b - Contemporary Chinese Society and Culture
  • IGS 142b - Global Pandemics: History, Society, and Policy


  • Columbia University
  • Harvard University
  • George Washington University
  • New York University

Elanah Uretsky

Visiting Assistant Professor of Anthropology


I am medical anthropologist who is also broadly trained in public health. As such, my research and teaching take a critical anthropologic approach to examining global health responses to disease, with a specific focus on China. My interests focus on the nexus of gender, sexuality, governance, and disease in China. My first book, Occupational Hazards: Sex, Business, and HIV in Post-Mao China (2016) examines how the networking practices that hold together Chinese social fabric and have led to the China's economic rise facilitated the development, transmission, and administration of China's HIV epidemic. I conducted much of the research for this book at the Chinese-Burmese border, which offers readers a unique perspective on how geopolitical relations between these two countries have affected this local HIV epidemic and the drug use epidemic that plagues the region.

This work on male networking practices, which include excessive banqueting, drinking, smoking, and commercial sex, has also led me to examine how such cultural rituals affect the rising rates of chronic disease in China. Overall my research has allowed me to offer alternative cultural perspectives to explain the rise of some very pressing public health problems in China.

My newest project has led me into the field of how international migration affects disease. I currently conducting research among the large community of African migrants coming to Guangzhou to engage in trade. This project, which focuses on the impact of the migration experience on risk for disease is opening up new inquires into how the emerging trend of south-south migration is affecting patterns of disease globally.

My teaching covers a range of interests from medical anthropology and global health policy, including the anthropology of global health to the anthropology of China and gender and sexuality in East Asia. My teaching also focuses on methods for conducting ethnographic research and the ethics and cultural competence involved in successfully conducting such research globally.


  • Uretsky, Elanah. "Sex….What’s it Got to do with Work Anyway?: Exploring the ‘Use Value’ of Sex for China’s Masculine Elite." Sexuality in China: Histories of Power and Pleasure . Ed. Howard Chiang. Seattle: University of Washington Press, 2018 (forthcoming)
  • Uretsky, Elanah. "China's Emerging Role in Global Health." Health Affairs (2018): <https://www.healthaffairs.org/do/10.1377/hblog20180109.759800/full/>.
  • Uretsky, Elanah. Occupational Hazards: Sex. Business, and HIV in Post-Mao China. Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2016.