Photo by Tony RinaldoPhoto by Tony Rinaldo
Erica CapleJames
2010–2011
Rita E. Hauser Fellow
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Charity, Security, and Disparities: Haitian Quests for Asylum

Erica Caple James is the Class of 1947 Career Development Professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). She is a medical and psychiatric anthropologist whose research focuses on violence and trauma; humanitarianism, human rights, democratization, and post-conflict transition processes; race, gender, and culture; and religion and healing. She is the author of Democratic Insecurities: Violence, Trauma, and Intervention in Haiti (University of California Press, 2010), which documents the psychosocial experience of Haitian torture survivors targeted during the 1991–1994 coup period and analyzes the politics of humanitarian assistance in “post-conflict” nations making the transition to democracy.

James is currently working on a second manuscript, “Charity, Security, and Disparities: Haitian Quests for Asylum,” which documents the “biopolitics of charity” through ethnographic research conducted at a US “faith-based” organization that serves Haitian immigrants and refugees. Yet another project, “Governing Gifts: Law, Risk, and the ‘War on Terror,’” continues her focus on the politics of charity by tracing the impact of antiterror financing laws and practices on both faith-based and secular NGOs in the United States. Other ongoing projects evaluate the growth of the “alternative” and “complementary” medical sector and the competing notions of embodiment and healing that this domain offers to biomedical health care.

James received an AB in anthropology from Princeton University, an MTS from Harvard Divinity School, and a PhD in social anthropology from Harvard University. Her work has been supported by the Health Disparities Research Program, National Institute of Mental Health pre- and postdoctoral fellowships, and the Social Science Research Council–MacArthur Foundation Fellowship on Peace and Security in a Changing World.

This information is accurate as of the fellowship year indicated for each fellow.
Photo by Tony Rinaldo