Anthropology Department Directory


Nia Parson

Associate Professor

Ph.D 2005 Rutgers University
Heroy Hall 405

  • Medical Anthropology
  • Gender
  • Violence
  • South America
  • United States
  • Courses Taught

    ANTH 1321 - First Year Seminar in Anthropology
    ANTH 2301 - Introductory Cultural Anthropology
    ANTH 3301 - Health, Healing and Ethics (co-listed with CFB 3301 and SOCI 3301)
    ANTH 3328 - Gender Violence (co-listed with WGST 3328)
    ANTH 4307/6307 - Seminar in International Health
    ANTH 5336 - Anthropology and Medicine
    ANTH 6317 - Advanced Seminar in Ethnology II: Violence and Health
    ANTH 7341 - Current Anthropological Literature

    Board Member, Association for Feminist Anthropology


    Nia Parson (Ph.D. 2005, Rutgers University) joined SMU as an Assistant Professor of Anthropology in fall 2008. Dr. Parson, a cultural and medical anthropologist, is interested broadly in the relationships of gender, violence, the state, and health, in global perspective. Her interests also include migration, social determinants of health, globalization, and narrative analysis. Dr. Parson's new book, Traumatic States: Gendered Violence, Suffering and Care is forthcoming from Vanderbilt University Press. She has published articles in the journals Medical Anthropology Quarterly and Violence Against Women and has work forthcoming in edited volumes. Traumatic  States is based on ethnographic research she conducted on women's experiences of domestic violence, help-seeking, and recovery in post-dictatorship Santiago, Chile, funded by Fulbright-Hays and Wenner-Gren Foundation for Anthropological Research grants. Dr. Parson also completed two years as a National Institute of Mental Health Postdoctoral Fellow at the Institute for Health at Rutgers University. While there, she conducted research on domestic violence among Spanish-speaking immigrants in New Jersey. Her research and writing activities have also been funded by generous support from the SMU University Research Council, the SMU Human Rights Education Program, the Rutgers University Institute for Research on Women, a Rutgers University Bevier Dissertation Award, and a grant from the Sam Taylor Fund. Dr. Parson is currently conducting research funded by the Hogg Foundation for Mental Health on mental health care for Mexican immigrant women in Dallas, TX who have suffered domestic violence. She is a member of Editorial Board of Violence Against Women: An International and Interdisciplinary Journal (2012-2013). She currently serves as a member of the Executive Board of the Association for Feminist Anthropology.


    Translating Affect: Symptomatology and Subjectivity at the Intersections of Gender Based Violence and Global Migration

    In this project, I explore how forces of globalization, migration, poverty, and gender-based intimate violence against women intertwine to produce emotional distress. In particular, I am interested in examining the relationships of the symptoms of psychiatric disorder and sources of emotional distress for Mexican immigrant women in the US who have suffered domestic violence. Carina Heckert, a Graduate Research Assistant in the Anthropology Department and I are currently conducting semi-structured life history and illness narrative interviews with 100 Mexican immigrant women in Dallas, TX. In addition to the project goal of contributing to anthropological theory in globalization, migration and mental health, this project has applied implications for conceptualizations of what constitutes "culturally competent" mental health care for undocumented immigrant women who suffer gender based violence.

    This research is generously funded by the Hogg Foundation for Mental Health and support provided by the SMU Department of Anthropology.

    Selected Publications

    Parson, Nia. Traumatic States: Gendered Violence, Suffering and Care in Chile. Nashville, Vanderbilt University Press (In Press, February 2013)

    Parson, Nia; Camilla Carruthers; Rebecca Escobar; Mariam Merced; and Anna Trautwein. "Health at the Intersections of Precarious Documentation Status and Gender Based Partner Violence" Violence Against Women: International and Interdisciplinary Journal. (In Press)

    Parson, Nia. 2012. Gendered Citizenship in the Post-Dictatorship State: Domestic Violence Policy and Women's Subjectivities. In Caroline B. Brettell and Carolyn F. Sargent, eds. Gender in Cross-Cultural Perspective (Revised Edition)

    Parson, Nia. March 2010. "Transformative Ties: Gendered Violence, Forms of Recovery, and Shifting Subjectivities in Chile" Medical Anthropology Quarterly 24(1) [PDF]

    Parson, Nia. 2010 "'I am no [just] a rabbit who has a bunch of children!': Agency in the Midst of Suffering at the Intersections of Global Inequities, Gendered Violence, and Migration" Violence Against Women: International and Interdisciplinary Journal 16(8): 858-901. [PDF

    Parson, Nia. 2009. Book Review Everyday Harm: Domestic Violence, Court Rites, and Cultures of Reconciliation by Mindie Lazarus-Black. Violence against Women: An International and Interdisciplinary Journal. 15(10)

    Parson, Nia. 2007. "The Gendered Politics of Security." Anthropology News. Association for Political and Legal Anthropology Column. 48(1): 46-47.

    Parson's web links of interest:

    Upcoming publication


    Hogg Foundation for Mental Health Services, Research. Policy, & Education

    Association for Feminist Anthropology

    Society for Medical Anthropology

    Access Denied

    Institute for Research on Women-Rutgers University

    Violence Against Women: An International and Interdisciplinary Journal

    SMU Engaged Learning

    Memberships and Affiliations:
    Society for Medical Anthropology
    Texas Council on Family Violence