About Jean Hunleth

Jean HunlethI am best known for my research with children living in difficult circumstances, my work on care giving in southern Africa, and my writing on health inequities in the United States.
 
I am currently an instructor of surgery in the Division of Public Health Sciences at Washington University’s School of Medicine in St. Louis. I have a PhD in anthropology and a master of public health (MPH) from Northwestern University. I completed my postdoctoral training in community-based cancer disparities research at Washington University and the Siteman Cancer Center.

My work is published in a range of peer-reviewed journals, including Qualitative Health Research, Medical Anthropology Quarterly, Childhood, Children’s Geographies, AIDS Care, Child Abuse & Neglect, The International Journal of Tuberculosis & Lung Disease, and the American Journal of Health Behavior. I recently completed a book on my long-term research in Zambia, which is entitled Children as Caregivers: The Global Fight Against Tuberculosis and HIV in Zambia (March 3, 2017, Rutgers University Press).

I have won a number of awards for my writing and research. Most recently, I was awarded the 2014 Steven Polgar Prize from the Society for Medical Anthropology for my article, “Children’s Roles in Tuberculosis Treatment Regimes: Constructing Childhood and Kinship in Urban Zambia.” I have received grants and fellowships for my work from the National Institutes of Health, National Science Foundation, Fulbright IIE, Wenner-Gren Foundation for Anthropological Research, and American Association of University Women.

Before entering into academic research, I served for more than three years as a Peace Corps volunteer in Zambia. I saw firsthand how well-intended health interventions failed when they did not incorporate the knowledge and experiences of the people living in the areas where I served. I also saw a need to include children’s knowledge and perspectives into global humanitarian and health interventions. The children I met during my Peace Corp service taught me many lessons about children’s social action, their creativity, and the diversity of childhood experiences—lessons I have carried throughout my career and which have solidified my interest in anthropology and community-based, child-focused health research. 

I enjoy collaborating with researchers from different disciplines and bringing anthropological theories and methods to bear on many health issues. My collaborations have spanned a range of topics: children’s domestic labor and migration, children’s roles in tuberculosis case findings, and cancer prevention and control. My current collaborations focus on health disparities related to breast and colorectal cancer screening, organizational processes that shape breast cancer screening, the cost-related challenges of starting and staying on medications, and more.