Johanna Crane

Assistant Professor

B.A. English, Wesleyan University
M.A. Anthropology, San Francisco State University
Ph.D. Medical Anthropology, University of California, Berkeley

Office: UW2-323
Phone: 425-352-3560
Mailing: Box 358530, 18115 Campus Way NE, Bothell, WA 98011-8246


My courses emphasize the complex workings of power in relation to medicine, science, and technology. My approach to teaching reflects the fact that, in many ways, I learned more during my first few days of fieldwork in Uganda than I had in my many years of schooling. Some of the things I learned were mundane—such as how to ride a minibus taxi in Kampala, or the proper way to greet a stranger. Other things I learned pointed to a bigger picture, like the way the moped drivers turned their engines off at stop lights and coasted down hills to save gas, and the willingness of pharmacies to sell pills in small numbers—two or three at a time—to those who couldn’t afford a whole month’s supply.

Whether it is conducted in a remote community, an urban hospital, or an industrial laboratory, I believe that ethnography has the special ability to link rich, descriptive accounts of everyday life and commonplace practices to broader social, political, and economic phenomena. Making this connection between lived experience and regional, national, and global contexts lies at the core of my approach to both teaching and research. As a teacher and an anthropologist, I especially enjoy incorporating this kind of learning into my classes. For me, this means both creating experiential assignments where students conduct their own “mini-ethnographies,” as well as training students how to see the world we often take for granted as newly unfamiliar. I believe that it is from this point of newfound strangeness that curiosity and learning flourish.

Recent Courses Taught

BIS 300 Interdisciplinary Inquiry
BIS 380 Bioethics
BIS 384 Health, Medicine, and Society
BISSTS 307 Science, Technology, and Society
BISGST 397 Topics in Global Studies (“AIDS and Power”)
BCULST 593 Topics in Cultural Studies (“The Politics of Living and Dying”)


My book Scrambling for Africa: AIDS, Expertise, and the Rise of American Global Health Science (Cornell University Press, 2013) uses fieldwork conducted in the U.S. and Uganda to track how Africa has moved from being largely excluded from advancements in HIV medicine to key locus of knowledge production in global health and HIV research. The U.S. response to the AIDS epidemic in Africa, I argue, is shaping the landscape of postcolonial science by generating new forms of collaboration and contestation between American and Ugandan researchers.

In the past, I have conducted research on HIV and poverty in the United States. In this project, I documented how welfare policies stemming from the “War on Drugs” created a perverse disincentive for individuals to prevent and/or treat HIV infection by limiting benefits only to those with an advanced AIDS diagnosis.

In the future, I plan to continue to study the politics of global health science, as well as return to questions of medicine and power in the U.S. through researching the field of prison medicine.

Selected Publications

Crane, Johanna (2013). Scrambling for Africa: AIDS, Expertise, and the Rise of American Global Health Science. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press.

Crane, Johanna (2011). “Viral Cartographies: Mapping the Molecular Politics of Global HIV.” BioSocieties, 6(2). Published online, 31 January. doi:10.1057/biosoc.2010.37

Crane, Johanna (2010). “Scrambling for Africa? Universities and Global Health.” Lancet. Published online 11 November. doi:10.1016/S0140-6736(10)61920-4

Crane, Johanna (2010). “Unequal Partners: AIDS, Academia, and the Rise of Global Health.” Behemoth: A Journal on Civilization, special issue on “Epidemic Orders,” 2010 Issue 3: 78-97. doi:10.1524/behe.2010.0021.

Crane, Johanna (2010). “Adverse Events and Placebo Effects: African Scientists, HIV, and Ethics in the ‘Global Health’ Sciences.” Social Studies of Science 40: 843-870. doi: 10.1177/0306312710371145

Crane, Johanna (2010). “Explaining the Epidemic.” Review of Helen Epstein’s The Invisible Cure: Africa, the West, and the Fight Against AIDS. BioSocieties 4(1): 103-7. DOI: 10.1017/S1745855209006498

Crane, Johanna, A. Kawuma, J.H. Oyugi, J.T. Byakika, A. Moss, P. Bourgois, and D.R. Bangsberg (2006). “The Price of Adherence: Qualitative Findings from HIV-Positive Individuals Purchasing Fixed-Dose Combination Generic HIV Therapy in Kampala, Uganda.” AIDS and Behavior 10(4): 437-442.

Crane, Johanna, K. Quirk, and A. Van der Straten (2002). “‘Come Back When You’re Dying:’ The Commodification of AIDS among California’s Urban Poor.” Social Science and Medicine 55(7): 1115-1127.