Elyse Singer

Postdoctoral Fellow in Population Studies


Elyse Singer is a qualitative medical anthropologist whose research centers on reproductive health, human rights, bioethics, gender, and citizenship. She recently completed her PhD in Cultural Anthropology at Washington University in St. Louis, where she also graduated with a Certificate in Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies. Her dissertation, Regulating Reproduction: Abortion Reform and Reproductive Governance in Mexico, is situated in the aftermath of Mexico City’s historic 2007 abortion reform and the subsequent creation of the only specialized public abortion program in the region. In this context, women’s decisions to seek abortion bring them into contact with a range of institutions and actors interested in regulating reproductive bodies, including the Catholic Church, feminist human rights groups, and the Mexican Ministry of Health. Drawing on nineteen months of ethnographic research with abortion patients, clinical personnel, and pro-choice activists, Elyse analyzes the experiences of dozens of women as they navigate a conflicting web of moral imperatives and institutional entailments that define abortion in Mexico City today.

Elyse has written a two articles on this research and co-written two books chapters on abortion politics and care both in Mexico and in the United States. Currently, she is co-editing a special issue of Medical Anthropology on the intersections of human rights and contemporary processes of reproductive governance. As a Postdoctoral Fellow at Brown, Elyse will be transforming her dissertation into a book manuscript and conceptualizing her second major project on Euthanasia and end of life care in Mexico.

Along with research, Elyse is a dedicated teacher with experience designing and teaching three courses at Washington University in St. Louis. Her teaching focuses on gender, the politics of reproduction, medical anthropology, bioethics, and biotechnology. 

Selected Publications

Singer, Elyse Ona. 2016. “From Reproductive Rights to Responsibilization: Fashioning Liberal Subjects in Mexico City’s New Public Sector Abortion Program,” Medical Anthropology Quarterly

Berrío, Lina Rosa and Elyse Ona Singer. 2016. “La Salud Sexual Reproductiva: Un ámbito de disputa en la construcción de ciudadanía para las mujeres en México.” In Mujeres frente a las paradojas de la ciudadanía. Ed. Mónica Cejas. Editorial Terracota- Universidad Autónoma Metropolitana-Xochimilco, Mexico City.

Singer, Elyse Ona. 2017. "Lawful Sinners: Reproductive Governance and Moral Agency Around Abortion in Mexico,” Culture, Medicine, and Psychiatry.

Singer, Elyse Ona and Bayla Ostrach. 2017. “The End of Patient-Centered Abortion Counseling? Examining Threats to Women’s Health.” In The History and Politics of Abortion, eds. Tracy Penny Light and Shannon Stettner. Pallgrave MacMillan.


Citizenship, Cultural anthropology, Gender, Human rights, Medical anthropology, Reproductive health