Alex Nading

Associate Professor


I am a medical and environmental anthropologist. My research, mostly focused on Nicaragua, has examined transnational campaigns against dengue fever, bacterial disease, and chronic kidney disease, as well as grassroots movements to address these issues. In all my work, I use ethnographic methods to bring the theoretical concerns of medical anthropology together with those of critical environmental studies and science and technology studies. My teaching includes courses on the anthropology of global health, anthropological methods, and international development. I am the editor of the journal Medical Anthropology Quarterly.

With the support of the National Science Foundation, I am also leading the design of an interdisciplinary, international center focused on housing justice and climate resilience, which you can read about here.

Research Focus

My first book, Mosquito Trails: Ecology, Health, and the Politics of Entanglement (2014, University of California Press) was an ethnographic study of the role of Nicaraguan community health workers in dengue fever prevention. In addition, I have published articles and chapters on topics including genetically modified mosquitoes, dengue vaccines, the human microbiome, food safety, and the role of toxic chemicals in global health interventions.

My second book, Planetary Health on the Edge of the Sugarcane Zone (under contract with Duke University Press) examines how environmental justice activists are addressing an epidemic of chronic kidney disease on Nicaraguan sugarcane plantations.

Another ongoing project, in collaboration with Josh Fisher of Western Washington University, is A Political Ecology of Value: A Cohort Based Ethnography of Urban Social Policy in Nicaragua. We ask how ideas of “quality of life” (buen vivir) frame environmental movements in urban Nicaragua. It also features experiments in collaborative ethnography, bringing Nicaraguan research participants together in regular workshops focused on visual, dramatic, photographic, and other ways of collectively conceptualizing urban survival and social justice.


Faculty Fellow, Atkinson Center for Sustainability



2014. Mosquito Trails: Ecology, Health, and the Politics of Entanglement. Oakland: University of California Press. 

Edited Journal Issues

2021. “Pollution and Toxicity.” Environment and Society: Advances in Research, Vol. 12 edited with Josh Fisher, Mary Mostafanezhad, and Sarah Wiebe

2020. "Medical Anthropology and Covid-19," Medical Anthropology Quarterly. 34.4, edited with Vincanne Adams

2019. “Human Animal Health in Medical Anthropology,” Medical Anthropology Quarterly. 33.1, edited with Hannah Brown 

Journal Articles

2023. Yates-Doerr, Emily and Alex M. Nading. “Introduction: Citational Politics in Medical Anthropology,” Medical Anthropology Quarterly 37(3): 177-181.

2023. Nading, Alex M. “The Plantation as Hot Spot: Capital, Science, Labor, and the Earthly Limits of Global Health,” Medicine Anthropology Theory 10(2): 1-26.

2022. Fisher, Josh and Alex M. Nading. “Playing Ethnographically, Living Well Together: Notes from an Experiment in Collaboration,” Ethnography.

2021. Fisher, Josh and Alex Nading. “The End of the Cooperative Model (As We Knew It): Commoning and Co-Becoming in Two Nicaraguan Cooperatives,” Environment and Planning E: Nature and Space 4(4): 1232-1254.

2021. Fisher, Josh, Mary Mostafanezhad, Alex Nading, and Sarah Wiebe. “Pollution and Toxicity: Cultivating Ecological Practices for Troubled Times.” Environment & Society: Advances in Research 12: 1-4.

2020. “Living in a Toxic World,” Annual Review of Anthropology 49: 209-224.

2019. “Ethnography in a Grievance: Documentary Mechanisms in Nicaragua’s Chronic Kidney Disease Epidemic,” Medicine Anthropology Theory 6(2). 

2019. (with Hannah Brown) “Introduction: Human Animal Health in Medical Anthropology,” in “Human Animal Health in Medical Anthropology,” invited special issue of Medical Anthropology Quarterly 33(1): 5-23. 

2018. (with Lucy Lowe). “Social Justice as Epidemic Control: Two Latin American Case Studies,” Medical Anthropology 37(6): 458-471. 

2018. (with Josh Fisher). “Zopilotes, Alacranes, y Hormigas (Vultures, Scorpions, and Ants): Animal Metaphors as Organizational Politics in a Nicaraguan Garbage Crisis,” Antipode 50(4): 997-1015. 

2017. “Orientation and Crafted Bureaucracy: Finding Dignity in Nicaraguan Food Safety,” American Anthropologist 119(3): 478-490. 

2017. (with Abigail Neely). “Global Health from the Outside: The Promise of Place-Based Research,” Health and Place 45: 55-63. 

2017. “Local Biologies, Leaky Things, and the Chemical Infrastructure of Global Health,” Medical Anthropology 36(2): 141-156. 

2016. “Evidentiary Symbiosis: On Paraethnography in Human-Microbe Relations,” Science as Culture 25(4): 560-581. 

2015. “Chimeric Globalism: Global Health in the Shadow of the Dengue Vaccine,” American Ethnologist 42(2): 356-370. 

2015. “The Lively Ethics of Global Health GMOs: The Case of the Oxitec Mosquito,” BioSocieties 10(1): 24-47. 

2013. “Humans, Animals, and Health: From Ecology to Entanglement,” Environment and Society: Advances in Research 40(1): 60-78. 

2013. “‘Love Isn’t There in Your Stomach:’ A Moral Economy of Medical Citizenship among Nicaraguan Community Health Workers,” Medical Anthropology Quarterly 27 (1): 84-102. 

2012. “‘Dengue Mosquitoes are Single Mothers:’ Biopolitics Meets Ecological Aesthetics in Nicaraguan Community Health Work,” Cultural Anthropology 27 (4): 572-596. 

2011. “Foundry Values: Artisanal Aluminum Recyclers, Economic Involution, and Skill in Periurban Managua” Urban Anthropology 40(3-4): 319-360. 

Chapters in Edited Volumes 

2021. “Eradication against Ambivalence,” in Mosquitopia? The Place of Pests in a Healthy World, edited by Marcus Hall and Dan Tamir. London: Routledge Press.

2019. “The Heat of Work: Dissipation, Solidarity, and Kidney Disease in Nicaragua,” in How Nature Works: Rethinking Labor on a Troubled Planet, School for Advanced Research Advanced Seminar, edited by Sarah Besky and Alex Blanchette. Santa Fe, NM: SAR Press. 

2019. “Heat,” In Anthropocene Unseen: A Lexicon, edited by Cymene Howe and Anand Pandian. New York: Punctum Books, pp. 226-230. 

2018. “How to Build Rapport with Cats and Humans,” in Living with Animals: Bonds across Species, Edited by Natalie Porter and Ilana Gershon. Ithaca: Cornell University Press, pp. 29-40. 

2017. “Resistance or Parasitism? Waste Scavengers and Dengue Mosquito Control in Nicaragua,” in Thinking Through Resistance: A Study of Public Oppositions to Contemporary Global Health Practice, Edited by Nicola Bulled. New York: Routledge Press, pp. 58-74. 

2015. “Ebola, Chimeras, and Unexpected Speculation.” Limn, Issue 5, “Ebola’s Ecologies,” Edited by Andrew Lakoff

Podcasts, Online Journals, and Blogs

2023. “Cosmic Conversation: The Anthropocene as Disaster and Disease,” Humanities Research Group in the Ecology of Practices, Haus de Kulturen de Welt and Max Planck Institute for the History of Science “Anthropocene Campus”

2023. Fisher, Josh and Alex Nading “Plantation Palimpsests in Urban Nicaragua,” Theorizing the Contemporary, Fieldsights, January 24.

2022. Interview on “The Chemical Sensitivity Podcast” with Aaron Goodman, April 14

2021. Sarah Besky, Ilana Gershon, Alex Nading, Christopher Nelson, Katie Nelson, Heather Paxson, Brad Weiss, “A Statement on AAA’s Publishing Future,” published simultaneously on the SCA, Medical Anthropology Quarterly, APLA, and SAW website

2021. Nading, Alex. “Editor’s Introduction,” in “Resistance, Resilience, and the Sojourner Syndrome: A Forum in Honor of Leith Mullings,” Medical Anthropology Quarterly online, March 10

2019. (with Ann Kelly) “Life/Non-Life Revived,” in Life/Non-Life: A Forum, in Somatosphere. 

2019. “Epicrisis and ‘My Shriveled Plant Moment,’” Theorizing the Contemporary, Fieldsights, April 25. 

2019. “Filtration,” in an online series on “Volumetric Sovereignty, Environment and Planning D: Society and Space blog 

2018. “Dams and Dialysis.” Theorizing the Contemporary, Fieldsites, July 26. 

2018. (with Josh Fisher and Chantelle Falconer). “Ethnographic Designs for Buen Vivir: Fieldnotes from Nicaragua,” Platypus, blog of the Committee on the Anthropology of Science, Technology, and Computing 

2018. “Is There a Place for Environmental Justice in Global Health?” Edge Effects, blog of the University of Wisconsin Center for Culture, History, and Environment 

2017. “Can Microbes Give Gifts?” in a Book Forum on Ed Yong’s I Contain Multitudes, Medical Anthropology Quarterly “Critical Care” blog

2017. “Chemicals Sit in Places,” in Sensorial Engagements with a Toxic World, edited by Chisato Fukuda. Medical Anthropology Quarterly “Second Spear” blog

2016. “Heat,” Fieldsights, Cultural Anthropology website

2016. “Zika, Hype, and Speculation,” in Forum on the Zika Virus, in Somatosphere

2014. “Bleach,” in Commonplaces, edited by Tomas Matza and Harris Solomon, in Somatosphere

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