Michigan State University

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James Madison College

Freidus, Andrea

Assistant Professor

Case Hall
842 Chestnut Rd Room S352
East Lansing, MI 48825


Ph.D., Michigan State University, Anthropology
M.A., MPH, University of South Florida

Professor Andrea Freidus has a joint appointment between James Madison College and Lyman Briggs College. She teaches primarily in the Comparative Cultures and Politics major in JMC.  Prof. Freidus is a medical anthropologist whose work focuses on Malawi, orphans, and medical humanitarianism. Her dissertation research included an analysis of the friction that arises between transnational discourses, donor demands, children’s rights doctrines, local practices, and the associated outcomes for children labeled “orphan.” A Fulbright Hays Doctoral Dissertation Research Abroad and the U.S. Department of Education Foreign Language Fellowship funded this work. She also has an MA in Applied Anthropology and an MPH with a specialization in Global Health from the University of South Florida. Research for her MA/MPH focused on sexual relations between local Costa Rican men and long-term female tourists visiting Monteverde, Costa Rica. Her publications from both projects cross disciplines and can be found in sociology, women’s studies, anthropology, and childhood studies journals (see below for a selection of publications).  

Professor Freidus’ current research examines the rise of international medical experiences for U.S. students who travel to Malawi to serve patients in rural areas. Over the past three decades, there has been a 24% increase in US medical students participating in global health initiatives, including short-term overseas trips.  Few studies examine the efficacy of these programs, and little ethnographic research has been conducted to understand the motivations, perceptions, and ethics of these volunteers and students. This work seeks to contribute to theories in medical anthropology and humanitarianism by exploring issues of power, health, and healing in relation to these western sojourners who inhabit new spaces of health care provision tied to economic and political restructuring in Malawi.  These contributions extend to theories of cultural formation, identity, and personhood as it examines the shaping of subjectivities that result from these encounters including the ways medical students become doctors and the poor in Malawi become patients and tools for training.

Select Publications

Freidus, Andrea

2013    “Malawi’s Orphans: Children’s Rights in Relation to Humanitarianism, Compassion, and Childcare.” InWorlds of Human Rights: Ambiguities of Rights Claiming in Africa, , B. Derman, A. Hellum, and K.B. Sandvik, eds. Pgs. 303-332.  Brill Publishing: Boston, MA.

Freidus, Andrea and Anne Ferguson

2013    “Malawi Orphans: The Role of Transnational Humanitarian Organizations.”  In Vulnerable Children: Global Challenges in Education, Health, Well-being, and Child Rights.  D. Johnson, D. Agbenyiga, and B, Hitchcock, eds. Pgs. 203-215.  Springer Press. 

Freidus, Andrea

2010  “Raising Malawi’s Children: Unanticipated Outcomes Associated with Institutionalized Care.” Children and Society 24(4): 293-303.

Freidus, Andrea

2010  “’Saving’ Malawi: FAITHFUL responses to orphans and vulnerable children.”  North American Practicing Anthropology Bulletin 33(1): 50-67.

Freidus, Andrea and Nancy Romero-Daza

2009        “The space between: globalization, liminal spaces, and personal relations in rural Costa Rica,” Gender, Place and Culture: A feminist geography journal 16(6): 683-702.

Romero-Daza, Nancy and Andrea Freidus

2008        “Female Tourists, Casual Sex, and HIV Risk in Costa Rica,” Qualitative Sociology 31 (2):169-187.