College of Arts and Sciences


  • Phinney Recognized for Outstanding Scholarship

    January 17, 2011

    Anthropology Lecturer Harriet M. Phinney received high praise for her work on “The Secret: Love, Marriage and HIV,” published by Vanderbilt University Press. The editorial staff of CHOICE, the publication of the Association of College and Research Libraries, a Division of the American Library Association, recognized “The Secret” as an Outstanding Academic Title for 2010.  The Secret” was co-authored by Jennifer S. Hirsch, Co-Director, Interdisciplinary Research Methods Core, Associate Professor of Sociomedical Sciences, HIV Center for Clinical and Behavioral Studies, New York Psychiatric Institute and Columbia University; Holly Wardlow,Associate Professor, University of Toronto;Daniel Jordan Smith, Associate Director, Population Studies and Training Center, Associate Professor of Anthropology, Brown University; Shanti Parikh, Associate Professor, Sociocultural Anthropology and African and African-American Studies, Washington University in St. Louis; and Constance A. Nathanson, Professor of ClinicalSociomedical Sciences, Co-Director, Columbia University Population Center,  Columbia University.

    The Secret situates marital HIV risk within a broader exploration of marital and extramarital sexuality in five diverse settings: Mexico, Nigeria, Uganda, Vietnam, and Papua New Guinea. Drawing on research conducted as part of an innovative comparative ethnographic study, funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH), and modeling a novel approach to collaborative anthropological scholarship, the authors show men's extramarital sex to be a fundamental aspect of gendered social organization.  Exploring men’s subjectivity rather than depicting them as victims of emotions or sexual drives, the authors document the political, economic, and social structures that facilitate men’s opportunities for engaging in extramarital relations as well as the social risks for not engaging in such activities.

    Of the 7,292 titles reviewed during the past year, only 620 books and 48 electronic resources were selected by the CHOICE editorial staff as “Outstanding.”

    “These outstanding works have been selected for their excellence in scholarship and presentation, the significance of their contribution to the field, and their value as important—often the first—treatment of their subject,” CHOICE editor and publisher Irving E. Rockwood noted in his announcement of the selections. “Outstanding Academic Titles are truly the ‘best of the best.’”

    Phinney, who received her Ph.D. from the University of Washington in Cultural Anthropology and a Masters of Public Health from the University of Michigan has been on the College of Arts and Sciences faculty since 2006. She focuses her scholarship on reproduction and sexuality, gender, political and economic anthropology, Vietnam and mainland Southeast Asia, and contemporary HIV/AIDS epidemic. She has been a consultant to Columbia University on a NIH capacity-building project that provides training to medical doctors and public health professionals in Hanoi, Vietnam, on how to conduct ethnographic methodology. Phinney is currently part of a team of medical anthropologists that received a planning grant from NIH to examine gendered inequalities among HIV patients when it comes to receiving treatment.  The study will be ethnographic in nature, examining gendered inequalities in health care in Vietnam, where Phinney works, as well as Nigeria, Uganda, Papua New Guinea, and New York City. 

    The College of Arts and Sciences offers 7 advanced degrees and 33 undergraduate degrees, including a B.A. in Cultural Anthropology.


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