Curriculum Vitae

PDF of Dr. Smith-Oka’s CV

Academic Positions

Faculty Fellow, Helen Kellogg Institute for International Studies, University of Notre Dame

Faculty Fellow, Eck Institute for Global Health, University of Notre Dame

Higher Education

2006 Ph. D. Anthropology. Joint program of University of Illinois at Chicago and Field Museum of Natural History.

2001 M.A. Anthropology (with emphasis on Ecology). University of Florida.

1998. B.A. (cum laude). Biology, Anthropology, and Environmental Studies. Lawrence University, Appleton, Wisconsin.

1994-1995 Biology. Universidad Nacional Autonoma de Mexico.

Previous Positions

2006-2014 Assistant Professor of Anthropology, University of Notre Dame

2008-2011 Nancy O’Neill Assitant Professor of Anthropology, University of Notre Dame


(* Indicates graduate student co-author)

(** Indicates undergraduate student co-author)

Books and Monographs

2013 Shaping the Motherhood of Indigenous Mexico. Nashville: Vanderbilt Press.

Under review Becoming Gods: Transformation of Doctors in Mexican Obstetrics Wards. Under Contract at Rutgers University Press.

Peer-Reviewed Articles

In prep V. Smith-Oka. Cutting Women: Exploring the Iatrogenic Effect of Obstetric Incisions in Mexico. Part of special issue, Medicine’s Shadowside: Revisiting Clinical Iatrogenesis, Emma Varley & Saiba Varma, issue editors.

Under review V. Smith-Oka, S.E. Rubin, and L.Z. Dixon. Obstetric Violence in Their Own Words: Comparative Ethnographic Examinations of Gender Violence in Health Care Settings in Mexico and South Africa. Submitted to Violence against Women October 23, 2019.

2019 A. Kristensen-Cabrera (**), E. Perez-Then, M.Miric, and V. Smith-Oka. Factors Associated with the Practice of Breastfeeding for Mothers in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. Public Health Review 2(2):1-10.

2019 V. Smith-Oka and M. Marshalla (**). Crossing Bodily, Social, and Intimate Boundaries: How Class, Ethnic, and Gender Differences in Mexico are Perpetuated in Medical Training. American Anthropologist. DOI: 10.2222/aman 13174

2018 J. Oluoch-Aridi, V. Smith-Oka, E. Milan (*), and R. Dowd. Exploring Mistreatment of Women during Childbirth in Dandora, Kenya: Experiences and Perceptions of Women and Healthcare Providers. Reproductive Health 15:209 (14 pages), 10.1186/s12978-018-0643-z. 

2015 V. Smith-Oka. Microaggressions and the Reproduction of Social Inequalities in Medical Encounters in Mexico. Social Science & Medicine 143: 9-16. (Impact Factor: 2.814).

2014 V. Smith-Oka. Fallen Uterus: Social Suffering, Bodily Vigor and Social Support Among Women in Rural Mexico. Medical Anthropology Quarterly, 28(1):105-121. (Impact Factor 1.298).

2013 V. Smith-Oka. Managing Labor and Delivery among Impoverished Populations in Mexico: Cervical Exams as Bureaucratic Practice. American Anthropologist 115 (4): 595-607. (Impact Factor: 1.539).

2012 Bodies of Risk: Constructing Motherhood in a Mexican Public Hospital. Social Science and Medicine 75(12):2275-2282. (Impact Factor 2.699).

2012 An Analysis of Two Indigenous Reproductive Health Illnesses In a Nahua Community in Veracruz, Mexico. Journal of Ethnobiology and Ethnomedicine 8:33. DOI: 10.1186/1746-4269-8-33. (Impact Factor: 2.39).

2009 V. Smith-Oka. Unintended Consequences: Exploring the Tensions between Development Programs and Indigenous Women in Mexico in the Contextor Reproductive Health. Social Science and Medicine 68:2069-2077. (Impact Factor: 2.604).

2008 V. Smith-Oka. Plants used for Reproductive Health by Nahua Women in Northern Veracruz, Mexico. Journal of Economic Botany 62(4): 604-614. (Impact Factor 1.018).

Book Chapters

In prep J. Oluoch-Aridi, V. Smith-Oka, & J. Dailey (*). Making Dignified Care the Norm: Examining Obstetric Violence and Reproductive Justice in Kenya. In The Routledge Handbook of Anthropology and Reproduction, Sallie Han & Cecilia Tomori, eds. Routledge. Due March 2020.

Under review V. Smith-Oka & Kayla Hurd (*). “We Work with What We Have, Not with What We Would Like to Have”: A Hospital Ethnography of Structure and Care in Mexico. In The Work of Medicine: Anthropology in Hospitals, William Olsen and Carolyn Sargent, eds. Rutgers University Press. Submitted October 4, 2018.

2020 V. Smith-Oka, N. Nissen (**), R. Wornhoff (**), & S.G. Sheridan. “I Thought I was Going to Die”: Examining Experiences of Childbirth Pain in Latin America. In Purposeful Pain: The Embodiment of Intentional Suffering, Susan G. Sheridan and Lesley Gregoricka, eds. Springer Press.

2019 L.Z. Dixon, V. Smith-Oka, & M. El Kotni. Teaching about Birth in Mexico: Working Across Birth Models. In Birth in Eight Cultures (Pp. 17-47). Edited by R. Davis-Floyd & M. Cheney. Long Grove, IL: Waveland Press.

2018 V. Smith-Oka and M. Rokhideh (*). Social Support and Social Suffering: Uterine Health among Indigenous Women in Mexico. In Maternal Health, Pregnancy-Related Morbidity and Death Among Indigenous Women of Mexico & Central America: An Anthropological, Epidemiological and Biomedical Approach (Pp. 225-247). Edited by David Schwartz. Springer Press.

2015 Being a Doula when Birth Choice Is Limited: Supporting Birthing Mothers in a Mexican Hospital. In Intimate Care: Doulas and the Birthing Body. Edited by Angela Castañeda and Julie Searcy. Toronto: Demeter Press.

2013 “Es Mejor Tener Pocos”: Las Decisiones de las Mujeres Nahua Respecto a la Planificación Familiar (“It is Better to Have Few:” Nahua Women’s Decisions Regarding Family Planning). In La Tercera Realidad: La Huasteca Como Espejo Cultural (Pp. 67-86). Edited by J. Ruvalcaba Mercado. México: Centro de Investigaciones y Estudios Superiores en Antropología Social.

2012 “They Don’t Know Anything”: How Medical Authority Constructs Perceptions of Reproductive Risk among Low-Income Mothers in Mexico. In Risk, Reproduction, and Narratives of Experience (Pp. 103-121). Edited by L. Fordyce and A. Maraesa. Nashville: Vanderbilt University Press.

Invited Lectures and Addresses

2019 Knowing When to Cut: Obstetric Violence as a Reproduction of Social Inequality in Mexico. Invited Lecture at the Kent Family Foundation Speaker Series, University of Central Florida, Anthropology Department, October 9, 2019.

2018 Women Can’t Be Trauma Doctors, and Other Gendered Stories of Medicine. Invited Lecture at the Christina Research Seminar – SKY Advanced Research Seminar series, University of Finland, Helsinki, April 24, 2018.

2018 Authoritative Knowledge, Inequality, and Obstetric Violence in Hospital Birth in Mexico: Strange or Comfortable Bedfellows? Invited Keynote at the Finnish Reproductive Studies Network (FiResNet) spring seminar, University of Finland, Helsinki, April 20, 2018.

2015 Invited Discussant for “The Ontological Politics of Motherhood: Ordinary Exceptions” at the American Anthropological Association meeting. Denver, CO, November 18-22, 2015.

2015 Invited Discussant for “The International Labor Organization’s Andean Indigenous Program in Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia and Chile, 1950-1975,” presented by Dr. Mercedes Prieto, Kellogg Institute Visiting Fellow. Notre Dame, IN, November 12, 2015.

2015 Invited Panelist for “Understanding Human Dignity” at the University of Notre Dame. Notre Dame, IN, January 28, 2015.

2014 Invited Discussant for “Anthropological Approaches to Conditional Cash Transfer Programs” at the American Anthropological Association meeting. Washington, DC, December 4, 2014.

2014 Invited Discussant for 5th Annual Medical Anthropology Young Scholars (MAYS) Meeting, Freie Universität, Berlin, July 4-5, 2014.

2014 Medical Anthropology, Medicine, and Empathy. Invited Lecture at Bharati Vidyapeeth Deemed University, Medical College, Pune, India. June 19, 2014.

2014 Shaping the Motherhood of Indigenous Mexico. Invited Online Lecture at Lehman College, NY. February 26, 2014.

2013 Invited Discussant for “Challenging Communities: Power, Boundaries, and Resistance” at the University of Illinois’s Second City Anthropology Graduate Conference. Chicago, IL. March 9, 2013.

2011 Invited Discussant for “Reproductive Choice and Romantic Desire: Explorations of Intimacy, Sexuality, and Evolving Gender Norms” at the Society for Psychological Anthropology meeting, Santa Monica, CA. March 31-April 3, 2011.

2010 The Power of Plants: Medicinal Plants and Traditional Healing in an Indigenous Mexican Village. Invited Lecture at North Central College, Naperville, IL. November 11, 2010.

2010 Invited Discussant for “Comparative Perspectives on Fertility Regulation” at the Latin American Studies Association meeting, Toronto, Canada. Oct. 6-10, 2010.

2008 Analyzing the Unforeseen Complexities of National Development Policies in Mexico. Invited Lecture at the Kellogg Institute for International Studies, University of Notre Dame. February 5, 2008.

2007 Teoría de Decisión Aplicada a la Salud Reproductiva de la Mujer Nahua (Decision-Making Theory as Applied to Nahua Women’s Reproductive Health). Invited Lecture at the Universidad Veracruzana Intercultural, Ixhuatlán de Madero, Mexico. June 14, 2007.

Professional Membership:

American Anthropological Association

Society for Medical Anthropology

Society for Applied Anthropology

Society for Latin American Anthropology

Society for Economic Botany

Council on Anthropology and Reproduction