Photo of Jen Pylypa

Jen Pylypa

Associate Professor

Degrees:PhD Arizona
Phone:613-520-2600 x 6329
Office:C772 Loeb Building

Areas of Interest

Medical anthropology; health and well-being of women and children; transnational adoption; motherhood; single parenthood; immigrant health; self-medication practices; global migration of health workers; Southeast Asia, especially Laos and Thailand; immigrants in North America; Canada


Jen Pylypa holds a B.A. in anthropology from the University of British Columbia, and an M.A. and Ph.D. in medical and cultural anthropology from the University of Arizona. Her research projects have included ethnographies of children’s fevers and women’s reproductive health in Northeast Thailand, including an examination of local illness perceptions, health care seeking patterns, and responses to public health campaigns. She has also written about medication use among Mexican immigrant and migrant families living in the United States along the Mexican border, and public perceptions surrounding the immigration of physicians and nurses to Canada. Currently, she is conducting research which explores the experiences of Canadians (especially single parents) forming families through transnational adoption, including how they conceptualize and enact ideas about health and well-being in the context of the ‘alternative’ family. Dr. Pylypa has received research grants and fellowships from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC), the American National Science Foundation, and the Wenner-Gren Foundation for Anthropological Research. Her academic background and research have emphasized combining the insights of sociocultural anthropology with a focus on issues of importance to public health and well-being.

Selected Publications

Pylypa, J. (2020) A Week in the Life of COVID-19 in Ottawa, Canada. Anthropology Now 12(1): 33-38.

Pylypa, J. (2019) The Most Boring Subject. In Courage, Curiosity, Teapots and Snakes: Stories of Teaching at Carleton University. Pp. 82-83. Ottawa: Carleton University.

Pylypa, J. (2018) Talking About Culture with Internationally Adoptive Parents: An Anthropological Perspective. Adoption Quarterly 21(2): 102-119.

Pylypa, J. (2016) The Social Construction of Attachment, Attachment Disorders, and Attachment Parenting in International Adoption Discourse and Parent Education. Children and Society 30 (6): 434-444.

Pylypa, J. (2013) Portrayals of Global Health Worker Migration in Canadian Print News Media: Domestic Concerns vs. Global Awareness. Journal of International Migration and Integration 14(1): 81-97.

Pylypa, J. (2012) Self-Medication. In Encyclopedia of Immigrant Health. Sana Loue and Martha Sajatovic, eds. Pp. 1340-1342. New York: Springer Press.

Pylypa, J. (2011) Socialization for Intensive Mothering in the Single Parent, Transnationally Adoptive Family. Journal of the Motherhood Initiative for Research and Community Involvement 2(1): 213-225.

Pylypa, J. (2011) Fears of Illness Progression and the Production of Risk: Two Ethnographic Case Studies in Northeast Thailand. Anthropologica 53(1): 129-143.

Boonmongkon, P., M. Nichter, and J. Pylypa (2010) Mot Luuk Problems in Northeast Thailand: Why Women’s Own Health Concerns Matter as Much as Disease Rates. In A Reader in Medical Anthropology: Theoretical Trajectories, Emergent Realities. B.J. Good, M.M.J. Fischer, S.S. Willen, and M.J. DelVecchio Good, eds. Pp. 422-436. Malden: Wiley-Blackwell. [Also published in Social Science and Medicine 53: 1095-1112, 2001]

Pylypa, J. (2009) Elder Authority and the Situational Diagnosis of Diarrheal Disease as Normal Infant Development in Northeast Thailand. Qualitative Health Research 19(7): 965-975.

Pylypa, J. (2009) Local Perceptions of Dengue Fever in Northeast Thailand and their Implications for Adherence to Prevention Campaigns. Anthropology and Medicine 16(1): 73-83.

Pylypa, J. (2007) Healing Herbs and Dangerous Doctors: ‘Fruit Fever’ and Community Conflicts with Biomedical Care in Northeast Thailand. Medical Anthropology Quarterly 21(4): 349-368.

Boonmongkon, P., M. Nichter, J. Pylypa, N. Sanhajariya, and S. Saitong (2002) Women’s Health in Northeast Thailand: Working at the Interface between the Local and the Global. Women and Health 35(4): 59-83.

Pylypa, J. (2001) Self-Medication Practices in Two California Mexican Communities. Journal of Immigrant Health 3(2): 59-75.

Boonmongkon, P., J. Pylypa, and M. Nichter (1999) Emerging Fears of Cervical Cancer in Northeast Thailand. Anthropology and Medicine 6(3): 359-380.

Boonmongkon, P., M. Nichter, J. Pylypa, and K. Chantapasa (1998) Understanding Women’s Experience of Gynecological Problems: An Ethnographic Case Study from Northeast Thailand. Nakornpathom, Thailand: Center for Health Policy Studies, Faculty of Social Sciences and Humanities, Mahidol University.

Miller, B.G. and J. Pylypa (1995) The Dilemma of Mental Health Paraprofessionals at Home. American Indian and Alaska Native Mental Health Research 6(2): 13-33.

Courses Taught


ANTH 5704: Anthropology of the Body, Health, Illness and Healing

ANTH 6100: Thesis Writing Seminar


ANTH 4000/SOCI 3950: Field Placement/Practicum in Anthropology/Sociology

FYSM 1506: Health, Culture and Society

ANTH 1001: Introduction to Anthropology

ANTH 2630: Studies in Asian Societies

ANTH 3005: Ethnographic Research Methods

ANTH 3310: Studies in Medical Anthropology

ANTH 4005: Health and Globalization

Areas of Graduate Student Supervision

I supervise master’s and PhD students working on a broad range of topics relating to medical anthropology/sociology, as well as studies of parenting and child well-being, adoption studies, gender studies, and Southeast Asia studies. See below for examples of my past students’ thesis topics.

Completed Graduate Supervisions

Emilie Hill-Smith (M.A. thesis, Anthropology) ‘They Just Don’t Get It’: Snapshots from Siblings of Children with Life Limiting Conditions, 2020.

Jasmine Macaulay (M.A. thesis, Anthropology) Reframing MAID in the Media: Rationalizing and Normalizing a New Mode of Dying in Canada, 2019.

Courtney Cameron (M.A. thesis, Anthropology) Dedicated Athletes, Deviant Women: The Experience of Being an Amateur Sportswoman in a Contemporary Canadian Context, 2015.

Melinda Spry (M.A. thesis, Anthropology) Living with Lupus in Ottawa: An Exploration of Illness Narratives, 2015.

Alexandra Born (M.A. thesis, Women’s and Gender Studies) Type-1 Diabetes, Gender and Technology: Exploring Lived Experiences, 2014.

Samantha Guigue (M.A. thesis, Anthropology) Flat, Frozen and Everlasting: Cosmetic Surgery Abroad and the Production of Erotic Female Bodies in Neoliberal North America, 2014.

Abigail Kidd (M.A. thesis, Anthropology, co-supervised with Alexis Shotwell) Challenging Categories: An Ethnography of Young Adults with Down Syndrome in a Community in Ontario, 2014.

Sarah O’Sullivan (M.A. thesis, Anthropology) The Politics of Triage: International Aid and AIDS Care in Northern Uganda, 2014.

Verah Mdai (M.A. research essay, Women’s and Gender Studies) Female Sex Workers and HIV Policy: Culture, Development, and HIV Vulnerability of Disadvantaged Women in Tanzania, 2013.

Anita Agrawal (M.A. thesis, Anthropology) Life after Wife Abuse: South Asian Women in the Greater Toronto Area, 2010.

Caryl Patrick (M.A. thesis, Anthropology) Home Care for the Homeless: Experiences of Infirmary Clients at the Sherbourne Health Centre in Toronto, 2009.

Jennifer Slawich (M.A. thesis, Anthropology, co-supervised with Louise de la Gorgendiere) Bilateral Development: Assessing the Strengths and Weaknesses of the Canadian-Tanzanian Partnership through HIV/AIDS Indicators, 2009.

Damon Greenaway (M.A. research essay, Anthropology, co-supervised with Jared Keil) Unemployment and the ‘Family Wage’: The Politics of Steelwork and Family Health, 2009.

Katherine Waitschat (M.A. research essay, Sociology) One Less! Exploring Motherhood and Gardasil, 2009.

Joanne Lazarus (M.A. thesis, Anthropology) Filipino ‘Nursing Medics’: Why are Doctors Retraining as Nurses in the Philippines?, 2008.

Amy Rotman (M.A. thesis, Anthropology) Making Meaning of Racial Cosmetic Surgery: Its Implications and Effects on the Lives of Women in America, 2008.

Hodan Mohamed (M.A. thesis, Anthropology) Somali Single Mothers in Ottawa: Challenges and Opportunities of Resettlement and Implications for Health and Well-Being, 2007.