Aviva Cormier

POSTDOCTORAL FELLOW IN INTERNATIONAL HUMANITIES (ANTHROPOLOGY)

Biography

Aviva Cormier is a Postdoctoral Fellow in International Humanities with the Department of Anthropology, where she teaches courses in Social Bioarchaeology and Biological Anthropology. She earned her M.A. and Ph.D. in Archaeology from Boston University. Her work explores the intricate process of interpreting impairment, disability, and identity from bioarchaeological remains and archaeological contexts. Her current research illuminates the life course experiences of those affected by Rare Disease in the past and the community that supported them. This work contemplates how the bioarchaeological study of ancient Rare Diseases may usefully advance contemporary perspectives on impairment and disability while exploring the complex social and medical experiences of individuals from historical and archaeological contexts. Her recent publications include a chapter in Bioarchaeology of Impairment and Disability: Theoretical, Ethnohistorical, and Methodological Perspectives (Springer, 2017) entitled “Impairment, Disability, and Identity in the Middle Woodland Period: Life at the Juncture of Achondroplasia, Pregnancy, and Infection” in which she presents the possible life experiences, social identities, and community relationships of a pregnant individual from 200CE Illinois who lived into their 30s with a complex skeletal dysplasia and extreme bone infection. Cormier’s work emphasizes the complex challenge for bioarchaeologists to infer the social implications of disability or impairment from archaeological and osteological remains lacking in detailed contextual information.