Watson Institute at Brown University
Development Studies
Alex Nading

Alex Nading

+401 863 1357
280 Brook Street, Room 319



Downloadable CV

Alex Nading

Senior Fellow in International and Public Affairs

Areas of Interest: Medical Anthropology, Political Ecology, Science and Technology Studies, Global Health, Infectious Disease, Cities, Human-Animal Relations, Bioethics, Climate Change, Latin America


Alex Nading is a Senior Fellow for International and and Public Affairs. His research focuses on global health, the environment, and social justice. It charts the political, technical, and social spaces where environmental change and epidemic disease meet. These spaces are diverse. They include (among others) laboratories, latrines, policy meetings, plantations, garbage dumps, and gut linings. His first book, Mosquito Trails: Ecology, Health, and the Politics of Entanglement (University of California Press, 2014), is an ethnography of community-based dengue fever control in urban Nicaragua. In addition, he has published articles and chapters on topics including genetically modified mosquitoes, dengue vaccines, the human microbiome, food safety, and the role of toxic chemicals in global health interventions. His current research examines how environmental justice activists are addressing an epidemic of chronic kidney disease on Nicaraguan sugarcane plantations. An anthropologist by training, Nading received his PhD from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.  


Supported by the Wenner-Gren Foundation, Nading is following the efforts of environmental and labor activists to address an epidemic of chronic kidney disease on Nicaraguan sugarcane plantations. The project situates the experience of the epidemic amid chronic pesticide exposure, water scarcity, land tenure insecurity, and a changing climate. It shows how, under conditions of climatic and industrial disaster, the political and legal logic of environmental justice is converging with the humanitarian and technical logic of global health.

He is also co-Principal Investigator on a three-year National Science Foundation-funded study that asks how conceptions of “quality of life” vary among residents of Managua, Nicaragua. Drawing on a Latin American tradition of collaborative inquiry, Nading and his research team are convening a cohort of garbage recyclers, government officials, urban garden brigades, health promoters, and teachers in regular workshops where they use art projects, photography, and modeling exercises to devise novel approaches to the environmental and health challenges facing the city.


2019. Nading, Alex M. “Ethnography in a Grievance: Documentary Mechanisms in Nicaragua’s Chronic Kidney Disease Epidemic,” Medicine Anthropology Theory. 6(2).

2019. Brown, Hannah and Alex M. Nading. “Introduction: Human Animal Health in Medical Anthropology,” in “Human Animal Health in Medical Anthropology,” invited special issue of Medical Anthropology Quarterly 33(1): 5-23.

2018. Nading, Alex M. and Lucy Lowe. “Social Justice as Epidemic Control: Two Latin American Case Studies,” Medical Anthropology 37(6): 458-471.

2018. Nading, Alex M. and Josh Fisher. “Zopilotes, Alacranes, y Hormigas (Vultures, Scorpions, and Ants): Animal Metaphors as Organizational Politics in a Nicaraguan Garbage Crisis,” Antipode 50(4): 997-1015. 

2017. Nading, Alex M. “Orientation and Crafted Bureaucracy: Finding Dignity in Nicaraguan Food Safety,” American Anthropologist 119(3): 478-490.

2017. Neely, Abigail and Alex M. Nading. “Global Health from the Outside: The Promise of Place-Based Research,” Health and Place 45: 55-63.

2017. Nading, Alex M. “Local Biologies, Leaky Things, and the Chemical Infrastructure of Global Health,” Medical Anthropology 36(2): 141-156.


“Global Health, Humanitarianism, and Inequality,” Fall 2019

“Infrastructure!” Fall 2019

“The Science and Technology of Development,” Fall 2018

“Research Methods in Development Studies,” Spring 2019

“Anthropology of Global Health,” Spring 2019

“Sophomore Seminar in Development Studies,” Spring 2018

Talks & Media

Recent Public Talks

“Fragility and Life Support: Dilemmas of Health and Environmental Activism on Nicaraguan Sugarcane Plantations.” University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, Department of Anthropology, January 14, 2019

“Dams and Dialysis: Industrial Ecology and Infrastructures of Life Support on Nicaraguan Sugar Plantations,” University of Toronto, Centre for Transnational and Diaspora Studies and School of the Environment, October 3, 2018

“Human Rights, Justice, and Global Epidemics,” Bryant University, Lecture commemorating the 70th Anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, September 24, 2018