Gertrude Fraser headshot

Gertrude J Fraser

Associate Professor
Unit: College of Arts and Sciences
Department: Department of Anthropology
Office location and address
Brooks Hall, 310A
1702 University Ave
Charlottesville, Virginia 22904
Ph.D. John Hopkins University 1988

In my study of African American traditional midwifery, I worked in the historical archives to explore early southern medical narratives of obstetric progress and eugenic surveillance using these official texts as a counterpoint to older African American women's domestic dialogues about birthing and the body. My collaboration with colleagues in the school of medicine focuses on the social and cultural dimensions of the Human Genome Project. Here I am particularly committed to unraveling the threads of the public response to new genetic technologies and therapeutics. I do this first by considering the specific publics for whom genetic science has meaning, and then move to some broader understanding of "the public." A relatively new research agenda focuses on rural mental health among African American and poor White communities in the south. The goal is to get at the ethnographically complex set of paradigms that undergird these groups' explanatory models of mental illness and treatment. With this project, I see a more direct involvement in the potential policy issues that will influence mental health delivery programs to rural southern communities. Altogether the engine that drives my anthropology is an interdisciplinary one. I want the work to dictate the avenues of inquiry and in that vein I encourage my students to look for the theoretical and methodological connections where they find them. The important thing is to pay attention.

Geographically, I am an Americanist with a strong emphasis on African American communities in the south. More broadly speaking, by training and personal inclination, my goal is to conduct long-term comparative research in African American communities across the New World diaspora. I am just at the exploratory stage, therefore, of a new field project in the English speaking Caribbean.

Source: U.S. NSF - Directorate For Ed. & Human Resources
October 01, 2012 – September 30, 2019
FORWARD to Professorship Workshop
Source: George Washington University, The
June 01, 2010 – June 30, 2013
EGMT 1520: Empirical & Scientific Engagement
Credits: 2
In this class students will learn to analyze claims about the material and social worlds through formulation and testing of new questions and hypotheses based on observation and experience.
ANTH 2270: Race, Gender, and Medical Science
Credits: 3
Explores the social and cultural dimensions of biomedical practice and experience in the United States. Focuses on practitioner and patient, asking about the ways in which race, gender, and socio-economic status contour professional identity and socialization, how such factors influence the experience, and course of, illness, and how they have shaped the structures and institutions of biomedicine over time.
ANTH 3390: Pregnancy, Birthing and the Post-Partum
Credits: 3
There's no debate that human reproduction is a biological universal, but it's also an intensely cultural phenomenon with widely disparate, & often contested, specific cultural routines, symbolic systems, ideas & practices whether focused on mothers, fathers, infants or communities or who is recognized as a birthing expert. Course examines variations in physiological & cultural processes globally & explores both the individual experiences & and systemic patterns associated with the phases of reproduction from pregnancy through to post-partum.
ANTH 3559: New Course in Anthropology
Credits: 1–4
New course in the subject of Anthropology.
ANTH 3590: Social and Cultural Anthropology
Credits: 3
Topics to be announced prior to each semester, dealing with social and cultural anthropology.
ANTH 4591: Majors Seminar
Credits: 3
The majors seminars in anthropology offer majors and minors an opportunity to engage deeply with a topic of anthropological concern. Through these courses anthropology students gain experience in doing an independent research project on a topic they care about and produce a significant paper or other major work. Enrollment for majors and minors is preferred.
ANTH 4999: Distinguished Majors Thesis Writing
Credits: 3
Writing of a thesis of approximately 50 pages, under the supervision of the faculty DMP thesis readers. Prerequisite: ANTH 4998.
ANTH 5590: Topics in Social and Cultural Anthropology
Credits: 3
Topics to be announced prior to each semester, dealing with social and cultural anthropology.
ANTH 8998: Non-Topical Research, Preparation for Research
Credits: 1–12
For master's research, taken before a thesis director has been selected.
ANTH 8999: Non-Topical Research
Credits: 1–12
For master's thesis, taken under the supervision of a thesis director.
ANTH 9010: Directed Readings
Credits: 1–12
Directed Readings
ANTH 9020: Directed Readings
Credits: 1–12
Directed Readings
ANTH 9998: Non-Topical Research, Preparation for Doctoral Research
Credits: 1–12
For doctoral research, taken before a dissertation director has been selected.
ANTH 9999: Non-Topical Research
Credits: 1–12
For doctoral dissertation, taken under the supervision of a dissertation director.