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Whitney Duncan

Whitney Duncan

Associate Professor

Department of Anthropology
College of Humanities & Social Sciences

Contact Information

(970) 351-2260
Candelaria 2263
Office Hours
M 9:30 a.m. - 2:00 p.m. & Wednesday by appointment only
Mailing Address
University of Northern Colorado
Department of Anthropology
Campus Box 90
Greeley, CO 80639


PhD, Anthropology, University of California, San Diego
MA, Anthropology, University of California, San Diego
BA, English, Columbia University

Professional/Academic Experience

Assistant Professor of Anthropology, University of Northern Colorado, 2012 - Present
Lecturer, University of Colorado, Colorado Springs, 2012
Adjunct Instructor, Colorado State University-Pueblo, 2013

Research/Areas of Interest

I am a medical and psychological anthropologist whose research focuses on the cultural and socioeconomic dimensions of mental health in global perspective. In particular, I have researched the globalization of psychology and psychiatry in southern Mexico (Oaxaca) as well as the emotional and mental health impacts of migration for Oaxacan migrants and their non-migrating family members. I have also conducted ethnographic research in the southwestern United States.

Focusing on experiences and understandings of emotions, mental health, and psychological and psychiatric services, I am concerned with how individuals and communities make sense of and seek to resolve social and personal distress. I examine the subjective impacts of broader global and domestic processes such as migration, healthcare reform and provision, and widely circulating "psy" ideas about what it means to be a healthy person in the contemporary world, asking how such processes are transformative for and transformed by particular cultural contexts.

My book, Transforming Therapy: Mental Health Practice and Cultural Change in Mexico, based on my ongoing research in Oaxaca, will be out in May 2018. Ahead of its publication the book was awarded the Norman L. and Rosalea J. Goldberg Prize from Vanderbilt University Press for best book in the area of medicine.

In 2014, I launched Project HealthViews, a collaborative, interdisciplinary medical anthropological project on understandings, experiences, and perceptions of health and healthcare. The project’s first phase, Project HealthViews Colorado, is a community engagement collaboration between myself, UNC students, and Salud Family Health Centers. The goal of this phase is to help Salud better understand their diverse patient population and best meet their patients’ needs while also providing UNC students hands-on health-related research experience in the local community. Please contact me if you’re interested in getting involved!

I am committed to public and engaged scholarship, and work actively with the Scholars Strategy Network, the Anthropologist Action Network for Immigrants and Refugees, the Colorado Immigrant Rights Coalition, and the American Friends Service Committee immigrant advocacy services.

Publications/Creative Works

Duncan, Whitney L., Lauren Heidbrink, and Kristin Yarris (2018). “Im/migration in the Trump Era.” Hot Spots, Cultural Anthropology website, January 31, 2018.

Duncan, Whitney L. (2018) “Acompañamiento/Accompaniment.” Hot Spots, Cultural Anthropology website, January 31, 2018.

Duncan, Whitney L. (forthcoming 2017). “‘Dinámicas Ocultas’: Culture and Psy-Sociality in Oaxacan ‘Family Constellations’ Therapy.” Ethos 45(4), December 2017

Duncan, Whitney L. (2017). “An Alternative Therapy Hits Home in Mexico.” Sapiens Magazine.

Duncan, Whitney L. (2017).  “Psicoeducación in the Land of Magical Thoughts: Culture and Mental Health Practice in a Changing Oaxaca.” American Ethnologist 44(1): 36-51.

Yarris, Kristin Elizabeth, Lauren Heidbrink, and Whitney L. Duncan. “Protecting Undocumented Students Post-Election: From Meeting to Action. Working Together to Protect Our Students.” Anthropology News, December 7, 2016. http://www.anthropology-news.org/index.php/2016/12/07/protecting-undocumented-students-post-election/

Duncan, Whitney L. (2015). “Gendered Trauma and its Effects: Domestic Violence and ‘PTSD’ in Oaxaca,” in Culture & PTSD, eds. Devon Hinton & Byron Good. University of Pennsylvania Press.

Duncan, Whitney L. (2015). “Transnational Disorders: Returned Migrants at Oaxaca’s Psychiatric Hospital.” Medical Anthropology Quarterly 29(1): 24-41. Winner, Society for Medical Anthropology, Anthropology of Mental Health Interest Group (AMHIG) Professional Paper Prize, 2016.

Calvario, Regina; Duncan, Whitney L.; Enríquez, Diana; López, Gilberto; Salgado, Hugo  (2013). “Migration and Mental Health in a Binational Mixteco Community,” in The Wall Between Us: A Mixteco Migrant Community in Mexico and the United States, eds. David Fitzgerald, David Keyes, & Jorge Hernández Díaz. La Jolla, Center for Comparative Immigration Studies.

Duncan, Whitney L.; Korwin, Laurel; Pinedo, Miguel; González-Fagoaga, Eduardo; and García, Durga (2009). “'Lucharle por la Vida': The Impact of Migration on Health” in Migration from the Mexican Mixteca: A Transnational Community in Oaxaca and California, eds. Wayne A. Cornelius, David Fitzgerald, Jorge Hernández Díaz, and Scott Borger. La Jolla, Center for Comparative Immigration Studies: Lynne Rienner Publishers.

In progress

Duncan, Whitney L. Transforming Therapy: Mental Health Practice and Cultural Change in Mexico. Book manuscript under contract with Vanderbilt University Press.

Honors and Awards

2015-2018 Fellow, University of Northern Colorado Sponsored Research Fellowship Program
2017 Award for Excellence in Social Science Engaged Research, University of Northern Colorado
2015 UNC Engaged Faculty Scholar Award

Course Syllabi

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