Kristina Baines


I am a socio-cultural anthropologist with a research focus in ecological and medical anthropology and their applications. This focus has manifested itself as work in the area of international development with emphasis in how environmental politics and land rights relate to health and wellness. Defining wellness broadly through its links with ecology and heritage, my current research program develops my “embodied ecological heritage” framework in practice in Belize and beyond.

Trained in Medical Anthropology at the University of Oxford and in Applied Anthropology at the University of South Florida, I am interested in and skilled at linking theory and application across a wide-range of topics. Most recently, I have completed a consultancy with an environmental NGO is Belize to better communicate with and understand the environmental and cultural heritage of six Maya communities living in near a forest reserve, to address how wellness intersects with their sustainable development goals. The role of anthropological methodologies in addressing the many facets of health in development discourse, to me, is critical. I am a strong advocate for mixed methods and a vocal proponent of the value of qualitative methods in interdisciplinary applied projects, where I find they are often lacking.

Fusing a holistic understanding of wellness, traditional ecological knowledge and heritage practice, my current research develops the concept of “embodied ecological heritage,” which provides a frame for understanding how communities become connected to their environment and how that connection affects health. This concept has been applied to my work with Guatemala Maya immigrant communities in South Florida and my work with communities undergoing the nutrition transition in Andean Peru. The application of this concept in all three locations is novel in its capacity for generating knowledge but also in its utility in implementing development programs.

In addition to applying my research, I also am passionate about disseminating novel concepts in novel ways, reaching beyond anthropologists and academics. At the AAA meetings last month, I organized an “innovent” to be offered on site and in the community, collaborating with Maya communities, artists and anthropologists to deliver my “embodied ecological heritage” concept through an experiential event. Using art as a way of engaging the public in anthropological ideas is a strong interest. Whether I am teaching students in a college setting or speaking to community members and organization volunteers in Belize and beyond, I hope to convey the fundamental power of anthropological research in increasing understanding of each other, and our health. In January, I am teaching a course, as an adjunct, in the foundations of Medical Anthropology as applied to water, and, through this, hope to further strengthen my methods for disseminating information surrounding the health/ecology intersection.

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