Vartan Gregorian Assistant Professor of Anthropology


Katherine A. Mason is a medical anthropologist who has conducted ethnographic fieldwork in China and the U.S. Her research addresses issues in medical anthropology, population health, bioethics, China studies, reproductive health, mental health, and global health. Her first book, Infectious Change: Reinventing Chinese Public Health after an Epidemicbased on fieldwork she conducted in southeastern China on the transformation of public health in China following the 2003 SARS epidemic, was published by Stanford University Press in 2016. Infectious Change won the Foundation for the Sociology of Health and Illness Book Prize from the British Sociological Association in 2019. Her scholarly work has appeared in American Ethnologist, American Anthropologist, Medical Anthropology Quarterly, The China Journal, International Journal of Feminist Approaches to Bioethics, and the Journal of Infectious Diseases, among many other venues. Since January 2020 she has provided expert commentary on the Covid-19 pandemic to news outlets around the world, including The Atlantic, The Telegraph, The Observer, South China Morning Post, and Popular Science.

Mason is co-founder of the Pandemic Journaling Project (PJP), a multidisciplinary effort to build an archive of diverse populations' experiences of the Covid-19 pandemic in the form of text, voice and image-based journals. PJP has collected nearly 20,000 journal entries and accompanying survey data from more than 1,500 people in more than 50 countries since May 2020. The Project has received national and international media attention from multiple news outlets including the New York Times and NPR. Mason is also working on an NSF-funded project in collaboration with her PhD student, Yifeng Cai, which draws upon interviews and social media to track the Covid-19 experiences of Shanghai residents from the beginning of the pandemic through the present.

In addition to her work on Covid-19, Mason is also currently working on a book project on perinatal mood and anxiety disorders (PMADs), based on several years of multi-sited ethnographic fieldwork that she conducted in the U.S. and China between 2015 and 2021. As part of this project, she became a certified postpartum doula (DONA International, 2018) and earned a certificate in maternal mental health (Postpartum Support International and 2020 Mom, 2017).

Mason is affiliated with Brown's Population Studies and Training Center, and the Program in Science and Technology Studies, and was a Faculty Fellow at the Swearer Center from 2018-21. She currently serves as Director of Undergraduate Research and Director of Undergraduate Community Engagement in Brown’s Anthropology department. Her research has been funded by the National Science Foundation, Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, Social Science Research Council, Wenner-Gren Foundation, U.S. Fulbright program, and Association for Asian Studies. She has previously held positions as a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Health and Society Scholar (2013-2015) and a Lecturer in the Health and Societies program at the University of Pennsylvania (2011-2013). She received her PhD in Social Anthropology from Harvard University in 2011.

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