Postdoctoral Research Associate in Population Studies
Office: 305-2 Mencoff Hall
Tel: (401) 863-6182
Fax: (401) 863-3351
Ellen Block received her PhD in Anthropology and Social Work from the University of Michigan in 2012. Her ongoing research examines how the AIDS pandemic has affected orphan care and the structure and makeup of the family in rural Lesotho. From an ethnographic perspective, she explores how everyday strategies of household caregiving practices have led to wider demographic shifts in the wake of the AIDS pandemic. She has noted a shift toward care by maternal grandmothers, despite the idealized importance of patrilineal social organization. Block’s work emphasizes the deeply biocultural nature of HIV/AIDS. While HIV may be contracted through casual sexual relationships, it spreads primarily through family and sexual lines and impacts interpersonal relationships in ways that other deadly infectious diseases do not. Her work showcases Basotho’s experiences of AIDS that emerge in the intimate spaces of family life, while focusing on the intersections of biomedicine and culture.
Block is currently working on several journal articles and a book manuscript and is in the preliminary stages of designing a new research project exploring the impact of the passing of a generation of mostly HIV-negative elderly caregivers on orphan care in southern Africa.