Alissa Jordan

Adjunct Assistant Professor

Associate Director, Center for Experimental Ethnography



Alissa Jordan is the Associate Director of the Center for Experimental Ethnography (CEE) at the University of Pennsylvania, and a multimodal cultural and medical anthropologist focusing on healing, embodiment, and reproductive in/justice for Black birthing people in Haiti and the broader global health sphere. Using collaborative ethnographic filmmaking, audio production, illustration, and participatory activism, she explores the alternative worlds that Black women build through attending to their bodies and generating medicinal wisdom outside of, and in relation to, Western medicine. Her work engages with the way these such acts of bodily care critique the terms and conditions of reproduction under racial capitalism. In 2023, she was recognized with the Platinum Award through the School of Arts and Sciences for extraordinary contributions to the mission of the School.
She is currently finishing her first book, Atlas of Nanm: Bodily Openings and Encounters in Haiti. It is an ethnography of the embodied wisdom that women generate at sites where their bodies  “open” [louvri] to the world. Organizing this wisdom according to the sites of mouths, uteruses, eyes, skin, and dreams, this book is envisioned as a multimedia atlas of life force, known as nanm, as it moves into and out of women’s bodies at these portals. Their lived experiences of care become authoritative sources of insight into the way bodies should interact with one another, into decisions about whose bodies demand care, and how or if structural violence can be addressed through collective bodily practice. Prose and theoretical interludes are interwoven with collaborative illustrations, which are graphic concoctions compiled from photographs, diagrams, and medicines made by and with interlocutors. The book is under contract with the University of Pennsylvania press. 


MA, University of Chicago
PhD, University of Florida

CV (file)

Research Interests

reproductive justice, sensory ethnography, experimental ethnography

Selected Publications

2023 “The Shame Herb: Birth and Debt in Hospital Detention" Essay and Film. 2023. American Anthropologist, Multimodal Anthropologies Section
2022 “Vodou Skins: Making Bodily Surfaces Social in Haitian Vodou Infant-Care” in Spirit Service: Vodùn and Vodou in the African Atlantic World, Indiana University Press
2018 “On the Cutting Edge: Emerging Contemporary Art in Ghana”. 2018. Co-authored with Rebecca Nagy. African Arts.
2014 “Kongo Memory in the Afro Atlantic.” 2014. In: Kongo Across the Waters edited by S. Cooksey, R. Poynor, H. Vanhee. Gainesville: University of Florida.



Faculty Status