Ann McElroy


McElroy.pngAnn McElroy recieved her doctorate in 1973 from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She is an associate professor and the program director of the Applied Medical Anthropology program at the University of New York at Buffalo. Dr. McElroy's research interests include: North American ethnology, U.S. migrant farm workers, culture and personality, medical anthropology, and the Arctic.

Research and Work

In 1967 Dr. McElroy began work on a National Science Foundation grant (No.GS 939) to research modernization in two Inuit settlements (one Frobisher Bay, one Pangnirung) on southern Baffin Island. Continued field research took place in 1969 and 1970, as well as in 1971 with the help of University of New York funding, totaling fourteen months of field work. She lived with four different Inuit households, spent four weeks in hunting camps, and divided her time between "traditional" and "highly acculturated" Inuit families (McElroy, 1975:684). She found that as a result of modernization, female Inuits sought higher wage employment, better educational opportunity, and upward mobility through jobs and marriage choices.

In 1987, Dr. McElroy served as the program chair for the American Anthropological Association's Society of Medical Anthropology. As program chair she worried, based on the over 300 paper and session abstracts she received, that medical anthropology was "turning away from ecology and biology" (McElroy, 1990:380) in favor of critical and interpretive studies of health in clinical and ethnographic settings. As a result of this experience, she has been a long time advocate for an interdisciplinary approach to medical anthropology that fosters "theoretical progress by going beyond particularistic studies, social criticism, and intervention studies" (McElroy, 1990:380). Her concern over particularism is rooted in the belief that it trivializes the field of medical anthropology and that the only way to remain relevant is to contribute to the larger body of scientific knowledge.

Dr. McElroy has had a decades-long working relationship with Patricia Townsend. Together, they have worked to develop an ecology of health model that considers adaptation and human-environment interactions. In 2009, they published Medical Anthropology in Ecological Perspective. Much of their work advocates for a biocultural, applied approach to medical anthropology. An approach that links physical and cultural anthropology, encourages communication across disciplines, and fosters an understanding of the biological and cultural dynamics of evolutionary processes by considering human adaptive responses to their environments (McElroy, 1990:244).


Extensive online and periodical searches revealed no biographical information beyond that pertaining to Dr. McElroy's research and career.


2009. (with Patricia K. Townsend). Medical Anthropology in Ecological Perspective (Fifth Edition), Westview Press.

2007. Nunavut Generations: Change & Continuity in Canadian Inuit Communities. Waveland Press.

2005. Health Ecology in Nunavut: Inuit Elders’ Concepts of Nutrition, Health, and Political Change in the Canadian Arctic, in Globalization, Health, and the Environment: An Integrated Perspective ed. G. Guest. Altamira Press, pp. 107-131.

2004. A New Synthesis: the Evolution and Ecologicy of Disease, in Encyclopedia of Medical Anthropology. eds. C. R. Ember and M. Ember, Springer NY, pp. 31-37.

2000. Cultural Variation in the Experience of Health and Illness, with Mary Ann Jezewski, in The Handbook of Social Sciences in Health & Medicine, eds. G. L. Albrecht, R. Fitzpatrick, and S.C. Scrimshaw. Sage Publications, pp. 191-209.

1996. Modernization, Social Change, and Health in the Eastern Arctic, in Human Ecology and Health: Adaptation to a Changing World, eds. M-L. Foller and L.O. Hansson. Goteborg University, pp. 72-93.

1989. Ooleepeeka and Mina: Contrasting Responses to Modernization of Two Baffin Island Women, in Being and Becoming Indian: Biographical Studies of North American Frontiers, ed. J. A. Clifton. Dorsey Press, 290-318.

Online Resources

Further Reading

  • McElroy, A. (1996). Should Medical Ecology Be Political? Medical Anthropology Quarterly, 10(4):519-522
  • McElroy, A. (1990). Biocultural Models in Studies of Human Health and Adaptation. Medical Anthropology Quarterly, 4(3):243-265
  • McElroy, A. (1990). Rejoiner [S.J. Ulijaszek]. Medical Anthropology Quarterly. 4(3):379-387
  • McElroy, A. (1975). Canadian Arctic Modernization and Change in Female Inuit Role Identification. American Ethnologist, 2(4):662-686
  • Eleanor Leacock, Virginia Abernethy, Amita Bardhan, Catherine H. Berndt, Judith K. Brown, Beverly N. Chiñas, Ronald Cohen, Jules De Leeuwe, Regula Egli-Frey, Claire Farrer, Valerie Fennell, Maureen Giovannini, Brigitta Hauser-Schäublin, Anna-Britta Hellbom, Knud- Erik Jensen, Kirsten Jørgensen, Ann McElroy, Verena Martinez-Alier, Nalini Natarajan, Marilyn Strathern, Susan S. Wadley. (1978). Women's Status in Egalitarian Society: Implications for Social Evolution. Current Anthropology, 19(2):247-275.

Reviews of Medical Anthropology in Ecological Perspective