Heather Howard

  • (aka Heather Howard-Bobiwash)
  • Assistant Professor
  • Affiliated Faculty, American Indian and Indigenous Studies Program, Native American Institute

Contact

Research Interests

  • Medical Anthropology
  • Indigenous Peoples Health
  • Technologies of Chronic Illness Management
  • Community-Driven Methodologies
  • Politics of Knowledge Production in Cultural, Heritage, Health, and Social Service Delivery Organizations

Biographical Info

I study the social relations through which authoritative knowledge – the knowledge that counts – is constructed and applied in healthcare, social service, educational, and cultural organizations, particularly in efforts to address structural inequities. I carry out my research in varied settings ranging from clinics, to community centers, to schools, and museums. I work primarily with Indigenous peoples for whom my research has significant policy and applied implications, for example increasing autonomy and improving healthcare experience. I am especially interested in the ways responsibility, choice, identity, and healing are shaped in relation to technological innovations, and the meaning people make from collective memory and engagements of the past in the present. My work centers on collaborative, community-based, and participatory approaches to research which promote the value of Indigenous knowledge frameworks to scholarship and research that is meaningful to community. I have held an adjunct faculty appointment at the University of Toronto with the Centre for Indigenous Initiatives since 2009, and was a visiting scholar at the University of Oxford with the Unit for Biocultural Variation and Obesity in the Institute of Social and Cultural Anthropology in 2016 and 2017. Several of my research projects study the intersection of class, gender, culture, and perspectives on human/non-human relations in Indigenous women’s work and activism experience in urban education, community history, and heritage item making. As a member of the Great Lakes Research Alliance for the Study of Aboriginal Arts and Culture (GRASAC), I am currently examining evolving practices of museums and cultural organizations providing culture-based social and health programming to Indigenous peoples. This work focuses on human dialogical interactive relationships in memory and meaning-making processes in relation to objects of social and cultural significance. Having recently completed major ethnographic research in an obesity clinic, I am also currently writing about bariatric surgery, tracing its recent history of developing into a “cure” for diabetes and the implications this has for patient choice and identity. This work draws attention to the consequential transformation of ideas about when and who should prescribe and choose this dramatic intervention on the body, and raises important questions about the social and ethical significance of a surgical intervention into a condition that is significantly shaped by socio-economic determinants. For Indigenous patients who are also members of socially marked racial/ethnic communities, as I move forward with this research, it will be important to interrogate how identity and the reframing of responsibility and choice are factors in decisions to pursue this and other technological interventions on the body.

Current Research Projects

2017-2018: “Nitaawichige: Skilled at Making Things,” Great Lakes Research Alliance for the Study of Aboriginal Arts and Cultures, pilot study funded under a Social Science & Humanities Research Council of Canada Partnership Development Grant (H. Bohaker, PI)

2013-2017:”Genomics in the Clinic: Identity, Responsibility and Choice,” co-I (L. M. Hunt, PI Anthropology, MSU) National Institutes of Health

2013-2017: “Our Health Counts Toronto: Developing A Population-Based Urban Aboriginal Cohort to Assess and Enhance Individual, Family and Community Health and Well-being,” co-I (Janet Smylie, (PI) St. Michael’s Hospital Centre for Research on Inner-City Health, Toronto) Canadian Institutes for Health Research

2013-2015: “Memory, Meaning-Making and Collections,” co-PI (with C. Krmpotich and L. Howarth (Faculty of Information, University of Toronto) and Native Canadian Centre of Toronto) Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada Partnership Development

2012-2013: “Comparative Effectiveness of Primary Care Practice Transformation by Two Insurers,” co-I (with R. Malouin, Department of Family Medicine, MSU) Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality

2012-2013: “Sharing Transformations in Diabetes,” PI, Canadian Institutes for Health Research

2012-2013: “Understanding Primary Care Transformation in the Niagara Region of Ontario from the Perspective of Practices and Programs,” co-PI (with R. Malouin (Department of Family Medicine, MSU) Canadian Embassy Faculty Research Grant Program

2010-2011: “Transformations in Diabetes Prevention Education and Support Initiatives by and for Aboriginal People in Toronto,” PI, Indigenous Health Research Development Program, Network Environments for Aboriginal Health Research, Canadian Institutes for Health Research

2011: “Aboriginal Diabetes Research Project,” co-PI (with L. Lavallee (Ryerson University) and Anishnawbe Health Toronto) Ontario Ministry of Health and Long-term Care, Toronto Central Local Health Integration Network

Publications

In Press. “`Shut the tape off and I will tell you a story’: Women’s Knowledges in Urban Indigenous Community Representations,” in Beyond Women’s Words: The Personal, Political, and Ethical Challenges of Doing Feminist Oral History, eds. Katrina Srigley, Stacey Zembrzycki, and Franca Iacovetta (Routledge).

In Press. “Healing Research: Relationalism in Urban Indigenous Health Knowledge Production,” In Contexts of Indigenous Research, Jean-Paul Restoule, Rochelle Johnston and Deborah McGregor, eds., (Canadian Scholars Press).

2017: Hunt, Linda M., Hannah S. Bell, Allison M. Baker, and Heather A. Howard, “Electronic Health Records (EHRs) and the Disappearing Patient,Medical Anthropology Quarterly. ISSN 0745-5194, online ISSN 1548-1387.  DOI: 10.1111/maq.12375.

2016: Heather A. Howard. “Co-Producing Community and Knowledge: Indigenous Epistemologies of Engaged, Ethical Research in an Urban Context,” Engaged Scholar Journal of Community-Engaged Research, Teaching, and Learning, v.1, no. 3, pp. 205-224. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.15402/esj.v2i1.207.

2016 “Care Managers and Knowledge Shift in Primary Care Patient-Centered Medical Home Transformation,” with Rebecca Malouin and Martha Callow, Human Organization, v. 75, no. 1 (Winter, 2016).

2015 “From Collection to Community to Collections Again: Urban Indigenous Women, Material Culture and Belonging,” with Cara Krmpotich and Emma Knight, Journal of Material Culture.

2014 “Politics of Culture in Urban Indigenous Community-Based Diabetes Programs,” American Indian Culture and Research Journal, vol.38, no.1.

2014 (online July 26, 2013) “Canadian Residential Schools and Urban Indigenous Knowledge Production about Diabetes Medical Anthropology, Cross Cultural Studies in Health and Illness, Vol. 33, No. 6: 529-545. DOI: 10.1080/01459740.2013.828722.

2012 “Northfork Mono Women’s Agricultural Work and ‘Productive Co-Existence’ In Indigenous Women and WorkTransnational Perspectives, C. Williams, ed. (University of Illinois Press).

2011 Urban Aboriginal Research Project Report with Lynn Lavallee, Anishnawbe Health Toronto.

2011 Aboriginal Peoples in Canadian Cities: Transformations and Continuities, with Craig Proulx, eds. (Wilfrid Laurier University Press).

2009 Keeping the Campfires Going: Native Women’s Activism in Urban Areas, with Susan Applegate Krouse, eds. (niversity of Nebraska Press).

2003 “Women’s Class Strategies as Activism in Native Community Building in Toronto, 1950-1975,” American Indian Quarterly, 27(3-4), 566-582.

1999 Feminist Fields: Ethnographic Insights, with Rae Bridgman and Sally Cole, eds. (Broadview Press/UTP Higher Education Press).