Abigail (Abby) Neely is a new assistant professor in the Department of Geography.
At the center of her work is the question of health: what it is, who it's for, and who decides. Working in a rural, Zulu-speaking area of South Africa, Abby understands health as always simultaneously material and symbolic; that is, she sees health as the interplay between physiological processes (bacteria interacting with cells), cultural contexts (the views and values of the community in which a person lives), social networks (family and friends on the one hand and health care on the other), and political-economic structures. To understand health, she takes an interdisciplinary approach that draws on the work of geographers, anthropologists, historians, epidemiologists, and medical scientists. Using this framework and these methods, she has shown, for example, how local people and the interactions of microbes inside of their bodies challenge global HIV protocols and the multinational funders that support them. Abby is currently finishing a book manuscript that examines shifts in the relationships between health and environment in Pholela, South Africa, through which she is rethinking questions of human and non-human agency.
Abby is thrilled to have joined the faculty at Dartmouth and is very much looking forward to working with students at the college. This winter she is teaching GEOG 11, Qualitative Methods and in the spring she will teach Global Health (GEOG 2) and a first-year seminar on the people and places of New England.