Dr. Libby Pfeiffer

Elizabeth Pfeiffer
Department, Office, or School
Department of Anthropology
  • Associate Professor


Postdoctoral Fellowship in STD/HIV-1 Research, Department of Microbiology and Immunology, Indiana University School of Medicine

PhD (Anthropology with a minor in African Studies): Indiana University, Bloomington 

MA (Applied Anthropology): Ball State University 

BA (Anthropology and Sociology): Hanover College

Selected Publications


(Forthcoming—May 13, 2022).  Viral Frictions: Global Health and the Persistence of HIV Stigma.  Special Series in Medical Anthropology: Health, Inequality and Social Justice. New Brunswick, NJ, Rutgers University Press.

Read more about Dr. Pfeiffer’s book here: Viral Frictions | Rutgers University Press
And here: Elizabeth Pfeiffer discusses HIV stigma in Western Kenya - The Brown Daily Herald


2021  Humphrey, John M., Marsha Alera, Bett Kipchumba, Elizabeth J. Pfeiffer, Julia Songok, Winfred Mwangi, Wycliffe Kosgei, Beverly Musick, Constantin Yiannoutsos, Juddy Wachira, and Kara Wools Kaloustian. “A Qualitative Study of the Barriers and Enhancers to Retention in Care for Pregnant and Postpartum Women with HIV.” PLOS Global Public Health 1(10): e0000004. doi: 10.1371/journal.pgph.0000004.

2021    Pfeiffer, Elizabeth J., and Harrison M. K. Maithya. “The Cultural Politics of Secrecy during HIV Home Counseling and Testing Campaigns in Kenya.” Culture, Health & Sexuality 23(7):867–82. doi:10.1080/13691058.2020.1736632.

2018    Pfeiffer, Elizabeth J. “‘The Post-Election Violence Has Brought Shame on This place’: Narratives, Place, and Moral Violence in Western Kenya.” African Studies Review 61(2):183–209. doi:10.1017/asr.2017.117.

2018.  Pfeiffer, Elizabeth J. and Harrison M. K. Maithya.  “Bewitching Sex Workers, Blaming Wives: HIV/AIDS, Stigma, and the Gender Politics of Panic in Western Kenya.” Global Public Health 13 (2): 234-248.

2017.  Brian Joseph Gilley and Elizabeth J. Pfeiffer. “White Man’s Disease:  American Indian AIDS Conspiracy Theory and the Refusal of Synthesis.” Medicine Anthropology Theory 4 (3): 1-20.

2017. Pfeiffer, Elizabeth J., Harrison M. K. Maithya, Mary Ott, and Kara Wools-Kaloustian.  “Dangerous Bodies, Unpredictable Minds: HIV/AIDS, Mental Disorders, and Stigma Syndemics in Western Kenya.” In Foundations in Biosocial Health, edited by Shir Lerman, Bayla Ostrach, and Merrill Singer. Lexington, KY: Lexington Books.

2016.  Pfeiffer, Elizabeth J., Kyle A. McGregor, Barbara Van Der Pol, Cathlene Hardy Hansen, and Mary A. Ott. “Willingness to Disclose STI Status to Sex Partners among College-Aged Men.” Sexually Transmitted Diseases 43 (3): 204–206.


First Year Seminar: Global Perspectives on Health 
ANTH 101:  Introduction to Cultural Anthropology 
ANTH 265: Anthropological Perspectives on Childhood 
ANTH 261: The Complexities Global Health 
ANTH 307: Applied Anthropology 
ANTH 309: Medical Anthropology

Research Interests

Dr. Pfeiffer is an engaged social-cultural anthropologist with specializations in medical anthropology and African Studies. Her teaching and research interests broadly include infectious diseases (especially HIV), health disparities and the social determinants of health, critical global public health, and gender and sexuality in sub-Saharan Africa, the USA, and Jamaica. Dr. Pfeiffer has spent a considerable amount of time in East Africa, conducting intensive, community-based ethnographic research that explores how and why HIV-related stigma persists in the age of treatment in one highway community in western Kenya. This work is the basis of her forthcoming book, Viral Frictions: Global Health and the Persistence of HIV Stigma in Kenya that is in press with the Rutgers University Press Series, Medical Anthropology: Health, Inequality, and Social Justice. In addition to Dr. Pfeiffer’s ethnographic research, for the past fifteen years, she has collaborated on multiple qualitative and mixed-methods research projects centered on sexual, adolescent, and maternal/child health and well-being in Kenya and the US, as well as conducted anthropological research in Jamaica. Since 2020, Dr. Pfeiffer has been collaborating with colleagues at a community health center to conduct new project in Rhode Island that is supported by a grant from the Social Interventions Research and Evaluation Network at the University of California San Francisco, with funding from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. Serving as the Principal Investigator, this applied research is evaluating, from multiple perspectives (patients, staff, and community partners) the social determinants of health screening process in clinic settings with the aim of improving health equity. 

Areas of Expertise

Medical Anthropology, African Studies, Development/Globalization, Critical Global Health, Infectious Diseases, HIV/AIDS, Gender and Sexuality, Science and Technology Studies, Social Determinants of Health, Stigma and Discrimination, Education, Applied Anthropology, Ethnographic and Community-Engaged Participatory Research