Abigail H. Neely

Academic Appointments
  • Assistant Professor of Geography

  • Affiliated Faculty African and African American Studies

As a political ecologist trained in geography's nature-society tradition, I seek to explain relationships between the material world (microbes, crops, and economies) and the way people understand that world (as mitigated through institutions, culture, and experience).  In particular, I research the interactions among local people and government or development workers, as well as between people and non-human actors like crops, nutrients, and witchcraft. This approach reveals that by paying attention to, for example, the addition of beetroot to gardens and cooking pots, the abandonment of long-standing healing rituals, and the failure of anti-tuberculosis campaigns, we can understand how local people and places shape state and international development initiatives.  In my research, I use a mix of methods including oral history collection, ethnography, household surveys, focus groups, participatory GIS, and archival research to understand local thinking and practices.  To understand non-human actors, I use epidemiological and ecological data and scientific work (with a critical eye to the social production of that work).

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Fairchild 121
HB 6017


  • A.B. Princeton University
  • M.Sc. Oxford University
  • Ph.D. University of Wisconsin

Selected Publications

  • 2019: “Two Worlds, One Bottle: An Object-Centered Ethnography for Global Health,” Abigail H. Neely, Medicine Anthropology Theory, doi.org/10.17157/mat.6.4.642

  • 2019: “Grieving Daughter, Grieving Witness,” Abigail H. Neely. In Kathryn A. Gillespie and Patricia J. Lopez, Grieving Witnesses/Witnessing Grief: The Politics of Grief in the Field. Under contract with the University of California Press.

  • 2019: “A Qualitative Approach to Examining Health Care Access in Rural South Africa,” Abigail H. Neely and Arunsrinivasan Ponshunmugum. Social Science and Medicine, 230: 214-221, doi.org/10.1016/j.socscimed.2019.04.025.

  • 2017: “Global Health from the Outside: The Promise of Place-Based Research” Abigail H. Neely And Alex M. Nading. Health & Place, DOI:10.1016/j.jhg.2016.12.007.

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Works In Progress

Under Contract: Re-Imagining Social Medicine from the South, Abigail H. Neely. Duke University Press.