Ph.D. Anthropology, University of California, Berkeley (1999)
Ph.D. Religion, Graduate Theological Union, Berkeley (1996)
128 Aaron Burr Hall
Office hours: Tue 1:30-3:00 & by appt.
Sociocultural and medical anthropology, social studies of science and religion, global health, subjectivity, ethnographic methods, critical theory, Brazil and Latin American societies.
João Biehl is Susan Dod Brown Professor of Anthropology and Woodrow Wilson School Faculty Associate at Princeton University. Biehl is the Co-Director of Princeton’s Program in Global Health and Health Policy.
In recent years, Biehl authored Vita: Life in a Zone of Social Abandonment (University of California Press) and Will to Live: AIDS Therapies and the Politics of Survival (Princeton University Press). These books are ethnographic studies of the experience and treatment of mental illness and AIDS, respectively. Both Vita and Will to Live explore new geographies of access and marginalization that have emerged alongside pharmaceutical globalization. They also elaborate on networks of care that poor urban patients create in their daily struggles to survive.
Biehl is the co-editor of When People Come First: Critical Studies in Global Health (Princeton University Press) and Subjectivity: Ethnographic Investigations (University of California Press). He is also co-editor of the book series “Critical Global Health” (Duke University Press).
Vita garnered seven major book awards, including the J. I. Staley Award of the School for Advanced Research and the Margaret Mead Award of the American Anthropological Association. Will to Live was awarded the Wellcome Medal of Britain's Royal Anthropological Society and the Diana Forsythe Prize of the American Anthropological Association. Biehl received the Rudolph Virchow Award for his articles "The Activist State" and "Pharmaceuticalization."
Biehl's research has been supported by grants from the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation, the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, the Wenner-Gren Foundation, the Ford Foundation, Princeton’s Health Grand Challenges Initiative, and Princeton’s Council of International Teaching and Research.Biehl held the Harold Willis Dodds Presidential University Preceptorship at Princeton University and was a Member of both the School of Social Science and the School of Historical Studies at the Institute for Advanced Study. He has also been a Member of the Center for Theological Inquiry and a Visiting Professor at the École des hautes études en sciences sociales.
Before joining the Princeton faculty in 2001, Biehl was a National Institute of Mental Health postdoctoral fellow at Harvard University in the Department of Anthropology and the Department of Global Health & Social Medicine (1998–2000). He earned a doctorate in Anthropology from the University of California at Berkeley (1999) and a doctorate in Religion from the Graduate Theological Union (1996). He received a master's degree in philosophy and undergraduate degrees in theology and journalism from academic institutions in Brazil.
Biehl is currently writing the history of the Mucker War, a religious war that took place among German immigrants in 19th century Brazil. He is also working on a book titled The Anthropology of Becoming. His present research explores the social impact of large-scale treatment programs in resource-poor settings and the role of the judiciary in administering public health in Brazil. Biehl is coordinating a research and teaching partnership between Princeton University and the University of São Paulo centered on global health and the anthropology of health and medicine, and is co-coordinating a collaborative network on “Race and Citizenship in the Americas.”
Biehl received Princeton's Presidential Distinguished Teaching Award in 2005 and Princeton’s Graduate Mentoring Award in 2012.
Articles and Chapters
“Ethnography in the Way of Theory.” Cultural Anthropology, 2013, 28(4):573–597.
“The Judicialization of Biopolitcs: Claiming the Right to Pharmaceuticals in Brazilian Courts. American Ethnologist, 2013, 40 (3):419–436.
“Anthropology as Political Critique” (with Ramah McKay). Anthropological Quarterly, 2012, 85 (4): 1211–1230.
“Between the Court and the Clinic: Lawsuits for Medicines and the Right to Health in Brazil” (with Joseph J. Amon, Mariana P. Socal, and Adriana Petryna). Health and Human Rights, 2012, 14(1):1-17.
“Bodies of Rights and Therapeutic Markets” (with Adriana Petryna). Social Research, 2011, 78(2):359-386.
“Homo Economicus & Life Markets.” Medical Anthropology Quarterly, 2011, 25(2).
“Deleuze and the Anthropology of Becoming” (with Peter Locke). Current Anthropology, 2010, 51(3):317-351 (with comments and a reply).
“Symptom: Subjectivities, Social Ills, Technologies” (with Amy Moran-Thomas). Annual Review of Anthropology, 2009, 38: 267-88.
“Judicialisation and the Right to Health in Brazil” (with Petryna A, Gertner A, Amon JJ, Picon PD). The Lancet, 2009, 373: 2182-84.
“Accès du traitement du sida, marches des medicaments et citoyenneté dans le Brésil d’aujourd’hui.” Sciences Sociales et Santé, 2009, 27(3): 13-46.
"Drugs for All: The Future of Global AIDS Treatment." Medical Anthropology, 2008, 27(2):1-7.
“Pharmaceuticalization: AIDS Treatment and Global Health Politics.” Anthropological Quarterly, 2007, 80(4):1083-1126.
"Ex-Human: Reflections on Vita: Life in a Zone of Social Abandonment.” City & Society, 2007, 19(1):81-85.
“Will To Live: AIDS Drugs and Local Economies of Salvation” (a photographic essay with Torben Eskerod). Public Culture, 2006, 18(3):457-472.
“Life of the Mind: The Interface of Psychopharmaceuticals, Domestic Economies, and Social Abandonment.” American Ethnologist, 2004, 31(4): 475-496.
“The Activist State: Global Pharmaceuticals, AIDS, and Citizenship in Brazil.” Social Text, 2004, 22(3):105-132.
“Patient Value.” In Cash on the Table edited by Edward F. Fischer. Santa Fe, NM: SAR Press, 2013, pp.67-90.
“Care and Disregard.” In A Companion to Moral Anthropology edited by Didier Fassin. Malden, MA: Wiley-Blackwell, 2012, pp.242-263.
“CATKINE … Asylum, Laboratory, Pharmacy, Pharmacist, I and the Cure: Pharmaceutical Subjectivity in the Global South.” In Pharmaceutical Self and Imaginary: Psychopharmacology in a Globalizing World edited by Janis Jenkins. Santa Fe, NM: SAR Press, 2011, pp.67-96.
“When People Come First: Beyond Technical and Theoretical Quick Fixes in Global Health.” In Global Political Ecology edited by Richard Peet, Paul Robbins, Michael Watts. London: Routledge, 2010.
“‘Medication Is Me Now’: Human Values and Political Life in the Wake of Global AIDS Treatment.” In In the Name of Humanity: The Government of Threat and Care edited by Ilana Feldman and Miriam Ticktin. Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2010.
“Human Pharmakon: Symptoms, Technologies, Subjectivities.” In A Reader in Medical Anthropology: Theoretical Trajectories, Emergent Realities edited by Byron Good, Michael M.J. Fischer, Sarah Willen, Mary-Jo DelVecchio Good. Malden, MA: Wiley-Blackwell, 2010, pp.213-231.
“The Brazilian Response to AIDS and the Pharmaceuticalization of Global Health.” In Anthropology and Public Health: Bridging Differences in Culture and Society (second edition) edited by Robert A. Hahn and Marcia Inhorn. Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press, 2008, pp.480-511.
“The Mucker War: A History of Violence and Silence.” In Postcolonial Disorders edited by Mary-Jo DelVecchio Good, Sandra T. Hyde, Sarah Pinto, and Byron Good. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2008, pp.279-308.