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Dr. Rania Kassab Sweis
Dr. Rania Kassab Sweis
Associate Professor of Anthropology
Courses Taught Anthropology 101 Introduction to Cultural Anthropology Anthropology 220 Introduction to Ethnographic Field Methods Anthropology 379 The Middle East and North Africa Through Film and Literature Anthropology 303 Biopolitics in Medical Anthropology IS 290 Perspectives on International Studies

Dr. Rania K. Sweis's research interests focus on medical anthropology, critical global health and humanitarian studies, transnational gender and feminist theory, and the Middle East and North Africa Region. Her publications have appeared in journals such as Medical Anthropology QuarterlyChildhoodJournal for Middle Eastern Women's Studies, and the International Journal for Middle East Studies. Dr. Sweis is the recipient of various research awards and grants, including those from the Social Science Research Council, the Association for Feminist Anthropology, and the Middle East Studies Association. Her first book, Paradoxes of Care: Children and Medical Humanitarianism in Egypt (Stanford University Press, 2021), is based on over 2 years of ethnographic fieldwork in Egypt with children, healthcare workers, and global aid experts. It traces the impact of global health interventions with vulnerable children over time and highlights the complex effects global medicine engenders in local sites throughout Egypt. Dr. Sweis is currently developing a second book project that focuses on medical humanitarianism in the Syrian Civil War, with special emphasis on how local healthcare workers navigate extreme conditions as they deliver life-saving care. 

Grants and Fellowships

Arts & Sciences Travel Grant

Arts & Sciences Summer Research Fellowship

Arts & Sciences Course Transformation Grant. Program for Enhancing Teaching Effectiveness (PETE), University of Richmond

Arts & Sciences Summer Research Fellowship, University of Richmond

Arts & Sciences Faculty Research Grant, University of Richmond

Arts & Sciences Travel Grant, University of Richmond

Arts & Sciences Summer Research Fellowship, University of Richmond

Teaching Effectiveness Grant, University of Richmond, Program for Enhancing Teaching Effectiveness

Bates College Faculty Research Development Grant

Stanford University Research Institute of Comparative Studies in Race and Ethnicity Dissertation Fellowship

Stanford University Clayman Institute for Gender Research Dissertation Fellowship

Stanford University Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies O'bie Shultz Dissertation Completion Grant and Fellowship

Stanford University Center on Philanthropy and Civil Society Dissertation Research Grant

Stanford University Graduate Research Opportunity Award

Stanford University Abassi Center for Islamic Studies Research Grant

Stanford University Foreign Language Area Scholarship for Classical Arabic

SSRC International Dissertation Research Fellowship Andrew W. Mellon Foundation


2020. The Southeast Regional Middle East and Islamic Studies Society (SERMEISS) Award for Outstanding Scholarship in Middle East Studies.  

2019. A Top 20 Downloaded Article of 2017-2018. Medical Anthropology Quarterly. Journal article: “Security and the Traumatized Street Child: How Gender Shapes International Psychiatric Aid in Cairo.” Vol. 32, No. 1, 2017. 

2011. Middle East Studies Association Graduate Paper Prize.

2011. Journal of Middle East Women's Studies Graduate Paper Prize.

2009. The Zora Neale Hurston Dissertation Travel Award in Feminist Anthropology. Awarded by the Association for Feminist Anthropology (AFA).

2004. Winner of the National Outstanding Research Paper Award granted by The American Academy of Political and Social Sciences (AAPSS).

2003. Winner of The Renée Riese Hubert Award in Women’s Studies for Outstanding Research Paper, University of California Irvine.

American Anthropological Association
Middle East Studies Association
International Union of Anthropological and Ethnological Sciences
Arab American Studies Association
Selected Publications

Torn Apart: Medical Humanitarianism and the Syrian Civil War. In progress.

Paradoxes of Care: Children and the Politics of Medical Humanitarianism in Egypt. Stanford University Press, 2021


“The Matter of Child Lives: Police Violence and the Limits of Children’s Rights.” NEOS: A Publication of the Anthropology of Children and Youth Interest Group. Vol. 13, No. 1. 2021. 

“Hospital Warzones: What Syrian and U.S. Health Workers Now Share.” The Globe Post. April, 22, 2020. 

“Doctors with Borders: Hierarchies of Humanitarians and the Syrian Civil War.” International Journal of Middle East Studies, 51(4), 587–601. 2019.

    *Winner of The Southeast Regional Middle East and Islamic Studies Society (SERMEISS) Award for Outstanding Scholarship in Middle East Studies

"Security and the Traumatized Street Child: How Gender Shapes International Psychiatric Aid in Cairo." Medical Anthropology Quarterly, Vol 32. No. 1. 2017.

    *Top Downloaded Article 2017-2018 - Medical Anthropology Quarterly

“Children as Biological Sufferers?: The Paradox of International Medical Aid for Homeless Children in Cairo.” Childhood, Vol. 24, No. 4, 2017.

"Saving Egypt's Village Girls: Humanity, Rights, and Gendered Vulnerability in a Global Youth Initiative." JMEWS, Vol. 8, No. 2, 2012.

    *Winner of the Journal of Middle East Women's Studies Graduate Research Paper Award

    *Winner of the Middle East Studies Association Graduate Paper Prize

"Rethinking Gender and Childhood in Egypt." Anthropology News, Vol. 52, No. 5, 2011.

“From Revolution to the Everyday: Rethinking Childhood, Youth and Poverty in Egypt.” Gender News. Michelle R. Clayman Institute for Gender Research. 2011.

“The Anthropology of Global Productions: Producing and Critiquing the Global.” Co-authored with Nikhil Anand, Hannah Appel, Elif Babul and Robert Samet. Anthropology News. Vol. 47, No. 6. 2006.


“Borders, Bodies, and War: The Successes and Dilemmas of Syrian-American Medical Humanitarians.” In Migration and Health: Challenging the Borders of Belonging, Care, and Policy. Berghahn Books. Edited by Stéphanie Larchanché and Nadia El-Shaarawi. Submitted. 2019.

“Do Muslim Village Girl’s Need Saving?: Critical Reflections on Gender and the Suffering Child in International Aid.” In The Status of Women and Girls: A Global Perspective, Lexington Books, 2017.


"Children as Caregivers: The Global Fight Against Tuberculosis and HIV in Zambia." Jean Hunleth. Rutgers University Press, 2017. Medical Anthropology Quarterly. Vol 32, No. 4. 2018.

“Cultivating the Nile: The Everyday Politics of Water in Egypt.” Jessica Barnes. Duke University Press, 2014. American Anthropologist. Volume 118. No. 2. June 2016. Pages 416-417.

“Islam and Assisted Reproductive Technologies: Sunni and Shia Perspectives.” Edited by Marcia C. Inhorn and Soraya Tremayne. American Ethnologist. Vol. 41, No. 1. 2014. Pages 216-218.

Ph.D., Stanford University
M.A., Stanford University
B.A., University of California, Irvine
Contact Information
302L Weinstein Hall
(804) 289-8071
(804) 287-1278 (Fax)
Areas of Expertise
The Middle East and North Africa
Critical medical anthropology
Humanitarianism and global health
Global poverty and international aid
Structural violence and social suffering
Transnational feminist theory
Ethnographic theory and research methods