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Social Anthropology:


Alex Nading

Alex Nading
Dr Alex Nading
Lecturer in Social Anthropology
4.10 Chrystal Macmillan Building 15a George Square Edinburgh UK EH8 9LD
+44(0)131 651 5120
Research Interests
Medical Anthropology, Environmental anthropology, Science and technology studies, Latin American Culture and Society

Guidance and Feedback Hours

  • On Sabbatical Semester 1 2017


As a medical and environmental anthropologist, I study the entanglement of human lives with the lives of nonhumans, particularly dengue mosquitoes, dengue viruses, and microbiota.  Since 2006, I have been doing ethnographic fieldwork in urban Nicaragua.  More recently, I have worked in the Caribbean and the United States.  All of my research deals in one way or another with the coproduction of bodies and urban environments.  I received an MA in the Anthropology of Development and Social Transformation from the University of Sussex, and a PhD in Anthropology from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.  

I am currently Book Reviews Editor for Medical Anthropology Quarterly.

At present, I am involved in two research projects. 

The first draws on fieldwork I have been conducting since 2006 in Managua, Nicaragua, as well as new research on the emerging science of the microbiome—the bacteria and other creatures that live in and around human bodies.  Working with caregivers, hygienists, and policymakers in Nicaraguan homes and clinics, I am exploring how the global fight against antimicrobial resistance is taking hold amid a broader "environmental turn" in Nicaraguan  social policy.  Starting in June 2016, Josh Fisher (Western Washington Unviersity) and I will be leading a 3-year National Science Foundation-funded research project on this topic.  Read about it here.

The second project, funded by a grant from the Wenner-Gren Foundation, examines the relationship between cause and justice through a study of an occupational and environmental health epidemic.  In northwest Nicaragua, a new form of renal failure is killing sugar plantation workers.  Since 2000, roughly one-third of all deaths among men in the area have been attributed to "chronic kidney disease of non-traditional causes" (CKDnt).  My project traces the emergence of a popular movement that turned CKDnt from a local crisis into into a global health concern.  Despite the success of this movement, the precise causes of CKDnt are not certain.  As a disease for which there is no clear medical fix, CKDnt has created space for the poor to help shape global health agendas, and for global health scientists to rethink the social justice value of their research. Beyond global health, then, this project addresses a broader question: To what extent is a unified definition of cause necessary for doing justice?

My interest in environments and health began with my original research project, a study of community-based dengue fever control in urban Nicaragua.  The resulting book, Mosquito Trails: Ecology, Health, and the Politics of Entanglement, was published by the University of California Press in 2014.

For more on my research, and access to writing, please visit, or my page.

Recent Publications

Forthcoming. Nading, Alex M. and Josh Fisher. “Zopilotes, Alacranes, y Hormigas (Vultures, Scorpions, and Ants): Animal Metaphors as Organizational Politics in a Nicaraguan Garbage Crisis,” Antipode.

2017. Nading, Alex M. "Orientation and Crafted Bureaucracy: Finding Dignity in Nicaraguan Food Safety." American Anthropologist. 119(3): 478-490.

2017. Neely, Abigail and Alex M. Nading. “Global Health From the Outside: The Promise of Place-Based Research,” Health and Place 45: 55-63.

2017. Nading, Alex M. "Local Biologies, Leaky Things, and the Chemical Infrastructure of Global Health," Medical Anthropology. 36(2). Ahead of Print, DOI: 10.1080/01459740.2016.1186672

2016. Nading, Alex M. “Evidentiary Symbiosis: On Paraethnography in Human-Microbe Relations,” Science as Culture 25(4): 560-581.

2016. Nading, Alex M. "Heat," Lexicon for an Anthropocene Yet Unseen, edited by Cymene Howe and Anand Pandian.

2015. Nading, Alex M. “Chimeric Globalism: Global Health in the Shadow of the Dengue Vaccine,” American Ethnologist 42(2): 356-370.

2015. Nading, Alex M. “Ebola, Chimeras, and Unexpected Speculation.” Invited article for Limn, Issue 5, “Ebola’s Ecologies”

2015. Nading, Alex M. “The Lively Ethics of Global Health GMOs: The Case of the Oxitec Mosquito,” BioSocieties 10: 24-47.

2014. Mosquito Trails: Ecology, Health, and the Politics of Entanglement. Oakland: University of California Press.***Honourable Mention, Society for Latin American and Caribbean Anthropology Book Prize, 2015.

2013.  Nading, Alex M. “Humans, Animals, and Health: From Ecology to Entanglement,” Environment and Society: Advances in Research 40(1): 60-78.

2013. Nading, Alex M. “’Love Isn’t There in Your Stomach:’ A Moral Economy of Medical Citizenship among Nicaraguan Community Health Workers,” Medical Anthropology Quarterly 27 (1): 84-102.

2012. Nading, Alex M. “’Dengue Mosquitoes are Single Mothers:’ Biopolitics Meets Ecological Aesthetics in Nicaraguan Community Health Work,” Cultural Anthropology 27 (4): 572-596.

Topics interested in supervising

I am interested in supervising students studying medical anthropology, the environment, science and technology, and any other areas related to my ongoing research. I welcome enquiries from students working in Latin America or elsewhere.