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Department of Anthropology


David Simmons

Title: Associate Professor
Department: Anthropology
College of Arts and Sciences
Phone: 803-777-2321
Office: Gambrell Hall, 433
Resources: Curriculum Vitae [pdf]
David Simmons


Dr. Simmons is an Associate Professor in the departments of Anthropology and Health Promotion, Education and Behavior at the University of South Carolina. David received his PhD from Michigan State University (2002) and completed a three-year National Science Foundation Postdoc at Harvard Medical School in the Department of Social Medicine, Program in Infectious Disease and Social Change (2002-2005). David is an active member of the American Anthropological Association (where he serves as President of the Association of Black Anthropologists), is on the Board of Directors for the South Carolina TB Association.


ANTH 102: Understanding Other Cultures

ANTH 236: Cultures of Africa

ANTH/HPEB 551: Medical Anthropology: Fieldwork

ANTH/HPEB 552: Medical Anthropology

ANTH 730: Theory Through Ethnography

Research Interests

Dr. Simmons's broad research interests are in the intersections of culture, medicine, and public health.


David’s primary research explores explores how power—be it political, economic, or social—shapes health outcomes for vulnerable populations. Underlying this broad project is an interest in how power comes to shape the terms of engagement, and indeed the very meanings, of health, healing, and therapeutic practice among differently positioned actors. In this regard, he is interested in epistemic violence—that is how biomedicine establishes its truth claims on healing efficacy and how subaltern populations, as well as  forms of healing respond to this process.

Representative Publications 


2012   Simmons, David

         Modernizing Medicine in Zimbabwe: HIV/AIDS and Traditional Healers. Nashville: Vanderbilt University Press

 Referred Articles:

2019   Chiwoneso, T., Ingram, L., Frongillo, E.. Blake, C., Simmons, D., Engelsman, B.

          “Understanding the Social Environmental Influences on Pregnancy and Planning for Pregnancy for Young Women in Harare, Zimbabwe.” Maternal and Child Health Journal.

 2018   Chiwoneso, T., Ingram, L., Frongillo, E.. Blake, C., Engelsman, B., Simmons, D.

          “Understanding Conceptualizations of Pregnancy and Planning for Pregnancy among Adolescent Girls and Young Women in Harare, Zimbabwe." Qualitative Health Research 28(9): 1509-1519.

2015   Simmons, David

          “The Fire This Time: Anthropologists Mobilize around Police Brutality and Violence.”  North American Dialogue 18 (2):35-37

2013   Pope, H., Watkins, K., McKeown, D. Simmons, D. & Miller, M.

         “Church-Based Health Promotion Program Impact on Ethnically Diverse Older Adults’ Social Support, Religiosity, and    Spirituality.”  Journal of Religion, Spirituality & Aging 25(3): 238-257

 2011   Simmons, David

          “The Role of Ethnography in STI and HIV/AIDS Education and Promotion with Traditional Healers in Zimbabwe.”  Health Promotion International doi:10.1093/heapro/dar004

 2010   Simmons, David

         “Structural Violence as Social Practice: Anti-Haitianism, Haitian Agricultural   Workers, and Health in the Dominican Republic.”  Human Organization 69(1):10-18.

2009   Simmons, David

         “Religion and Medicine at the Crossroads: A Re-examination of the Southern Rhodesian Influenza Epidemic of 1918.”  Journal of Southern African Studies  35(1):29-44.

2009   Simmons, David

         “Healers’ Understandings of Indigenous Names for HIV/AIDS in Harare, Zimbabwe.”  AIDS Care  21(2):231-234.

Recent Accomplishments 

  • Executive Board Member, American Anthropological Association, 2016-present
  • Faculty Principal, Galen Health Fellows, 2017-present
  • Associate Dean, Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, Arnold School of Public Health, 2015-17
  • President, Association of Black Anthropologists, 2015-17
  • Chair, USC Diversity Committee, 2011-17
  • Distinguished American Citizen Award (2002) from the American Embassy in Santo Domingo 
  • Joseph F. Wall Sesquicentennial Service Award (2004) from Grinnell College

Challenge the conventional. Create the exceptional. No Limits.