Dr. Anna Martínez-Hume, Medical Anthropology

Anna Martinez-Hume in graduation regalia

Dr. Anna Martínez-Hume’s dissertation research, titled “Refractions of ‘Doing Good’: The State, Subjectivity, and NGO Health Workers in Maya Guatemala”, is described as innovative and compelling by her advisor, Dr. Linda Hunt. Based on interviews, observations, and document review conducted over five years, Dr. Martínez-Hume examines the shifting position and commitment of Mayan NGO healthcare workers in the context of a radically fluctuating socio-political environment. In this setting, perspectives of NGOs have transmuted from relying on them for healthcare delivery of underserved communities, to withdrawing support from these NGOs and viewing them as corrupt and exploitive.

Using subjectivity theory to examine the complex interplay between personal identity, organizational context, and changing political-economic conditions, Dr. Martínez-Hume provides intimate insight into evolving personal commitment, revised agendas, and adaptive strategies behind the continued engagement of Indigenous NGO workers. These insights extend well beyond Guatemala to other contexts where public support for healthcare is waning, and where healthcare delivery is increasingly reliant on the ability of local actors to remain engaged and effectively strategize around shrinking public support. Dr. Martínez-Hume’s creative use of the subjectivity framework pushes this approach to illuminate specifically how large shifts in socio-political context may manifest in on-the-ground actions, perceptions, and experiences of actors striving to address needs of the communities they serve.

Dr. Martínez-Hume recently won the 2021 Rita S. Gallin Award for Best Graduate Paper on Women and Gender in Global Perspective for her paper entitled, “‘I’ve Lived It in My Own Flesh’: Empowerment, Feminist Solidarity and NGO Worker Subjectivity in Maya Guatemala.” Dr. Martínez-Hume is currently a Research Associate within the Center for Healthy Communities at Michigan Public Health Institute where she works on multiple public health research projects as an applied medical anthropologist, particularly in the area of Native American health and wellness.

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