Erin Koch

  • Associate Professor
  • Co-Director, Health, Society, & Populations (HSP) Program
  • Anthropology
  • Health, Society and Populations
218 Lafferty Hall
+1 (859) 257-7312
Research Interests:
Currently accepting MA and PhD students

Ph.D., New School for Social Research, degree conferred 2005


Research Interests: Science, technology and biomedicine; medical anthropology; multispecies ethnography and human-microbe relationships; infectious disease; anthropology of dirt and soil science; global health; the United States; Eastern Europe and Eurasia. 

Projects and Publications: As an anthropologist my primary interests are in ethnographic studies of science, technology, medicine, and the state. I am currently developing new areas of research and teaching that focus on microbes and human-microbe relationships, anthropological studies of dirt and soil science, and the relationships between dirt, microbial ecologies and health. 

My previous research investigated responses to tuberculosis in Georgia following the collapse of the Soviet Union, focusing on the implementation of a global WHO-based protocol for TB control. My research investigated how Georgian service providers navigate changes in what counts as “expert knowledge,” and the actual versus expected results of a so-called technical solution for disease management that is at once cultural, political, and biological. In my book based on this project, Free Market Tuberculosis: Managing Epidemics in post-Soviet Georgia, I examine cultural, (micro)biological, and political aspects of TB control in Georgia. I examine how contemporary global health standards for TB control multiply and reproduce the very disease they are designed to combat. Free Market Tuberculosis provides important and novel anthropological insights about infectious disease, human-microbe relationships, global health paradigms and interventions, and postsocialism. The book received the 2011 annual Norman L. and Roselea J. Goldberg Prize for the best project in the area of medicine (Vanderbilt University Press) and the 2014 Davis Center Book Prize in Political and Social Studies for an outstanding monograph on Russia, Eurasia, or Eastern Europe in anthropology, political science, sociology or geography (awarded by ASEEES). 

I am currently completing publications based on a short-term research project about the health effects of displacement among populations forced to flee their homes during civil wars in Georgia. I worked in a small city in western Georgia near the Abkhaz border where I focused on internally displaced persons (IDPs) who remain displaced from the civil war between Abkhazia and Georgia that took place in 1992-1993. Topics central to this project include the health effects of war and protracted displacement, and the administrative and institutional aspects of health needs assessment and service distribution by governmental and aid organizations. Published and in-progress articles based on this project address, among other things, how global health and humanitarian interventions produce moral claims to organize institutions, social spaces, and diagnoses as they bring relief—and distress—to displaced populations.

Selected Grants, Fellowships and Awards:

  • Association for Slavic, East European, and Eurasian Studies, Davis Center Book Prize in Political and Social Sciences, 2014. 
  • Vanderbilt University Press, The Norman L. and Roselea J. Goldberg Prize for the best project in the area of medicine, 2011.
  • The University of Kentucky Alumni Association Great Teacher Award, 2011
  • The National Council for Eurasian and East European Research (NCEEER)“Humanitarianism as Politics: Internally Displaced Persons, Health, and Citizenship in the Republic of Georgia” Principal Investigator, Collaborative Research Contract (with Elizabeth Dunn, University of Colorado Boulder), October 1, 2009-September 30, 2011
  • The International Research and Exchanges Board (IREX)“Health Effects of Displacement in post-War Georgia.” Short-Term Travel Grant, summer 2009
  • Graduate Faculty of Political and Social Science, The New School for Social ResearchStanley Diamond Memorial Award in the Social Sciences. PhD Commencement Award, Graduate Faculty of Political and Social Science, April 2005
  • Columbia University, The Harriman Institute for Russian, Eurasian and Eastern European Studies Postdoctoral Fellowship, 2004-2005

Courses Taught and Teaching Interests:

  • ANT 101: What Makes us Human? Introduction to Anthropology
  • ANT 251: Global Health Inequalities
  • ANT 301: History of Anthropological Theory
  • ANT 302: Ethnographic Methods: Doing Anthropology 
  • ANT 329: Anthropology of Eastern Europe and Eurasia: Socialism and Post-Socialist Change
  • ANT 429: Survey of Medical Anthropology
  • ANT 610: History of Theory in Anthropology
  • ANT 646: Global Health: People, Institutions and Change
  • ANT 724: Anthropology of the State
  • ANT 765: Advanced Seminar in Medical Anthropology
  • ANT 770: Biomedical Cultures and Power
  • HON 251-006: Cultures of Science, Technology and Medicine (Fall 2017)
  • HSP 499: Health, Society, and Populations Capstone
Selected Publications: 
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