I’m a Professor of Anthropology at the University of Central Florida (2008-present). I received my Ph.D. in cultural anthropology from the University of Colorado at Boulder (2006), and I held a Postdoctoral Fellowship in medical anthropology and public health at Heilbrunn Department of Population and Family Health, Mailman School of Public Health, Columbia University (2006-08). During my 2017 sabbatical, I held the position of a Visiting Fellow at the University of Kent Law School, Kent Centre for Law, Gender and Sexuality in Canterbury, the United Kingdom.
Broadly, I’m interested in gender and governance: the politics and policies around reproductive and sexual health and rights, access to healthcare, gender inequalities, and social justice issues. I’m also interested in social movements and actors that influence gender politics.
My long-term research in Poland, Ireland, and in the context of EU governance that focuses on the politics of reproduction is the subject of my ethnography, The Politics of Morality: The Church, the State and Reproductive Rights in Postsocialist Poland published by Ohio University Press in 2015, and the Winner of the Adele E. Clarke Book Award in 2017.
My current research includes 4 independent research streams:
- Ireland: a collaborative WHO-funded research on the barriers and facilitators to the 2019 abortion policy implementation.
- United Kingdom, Netherlands, Spain, France, and Italy: a 5-country interdisciplinary research on cross-border reproductive health travel (2016-2021). Funded by the European Research Council.
- Malta: solo ethnographic fieldwork on recent shifts in Maltese politics around gender and sexuality.
- Florida: collaborative research with the UCF College of Medicine about access to healthcare for LGB youth.
Please see Research Specialization tab for details on these projects.
I’m a passionate teacher and have been recognized with several awards for teaching and mentoring students in research. I teach cultural, medical, and applied/public anthropology undergraduate and graduate courses. I direct research of students enrolled in the anthropology PhD and Masters Programs, the School of Medicine FIRE Program, and the Honors-in-the-Major Program. I’m the Faculty Adviser and founder of the Medical Anthropology Minor and the Global Health Certificate. I also serve as a medical anthropology faculty supervisor for the Global Health Internship – Mare Brignol, Haiti.
In my spare time, you might find me skiing in Colorado or enjoying Florida beaches.
I am a cultural anthropologist with a specialization in medical anthropology.
My research interests include: gender and governance; the politics of healthcare; social justice issues; reproductive rights and policies; health policy and governance; feminism and women’s movements; NGOs and activism; political economy; human rights; international and global health and rights politics.
My geographic areas of research are:
- Europe: United Kingdom, Netherlands, Spain, France, Italy, Ireland, Malta, Poland
- USA: Florida
My current research includes three independent research streams:
- United Kingdom, Netherlands, Spain, France, and Italy: a 5-country interdisciplinary research (2016-2021)
This fieldwork is funded by the European Research Council and examines the international phenomenon of cross-border reproductive health travel in 5 European countries: the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, Spain, France, and Italy. This is a collaborative medical anthropology and epidemiology project in partnership with the University of Barcelona.
- Malta: preliminary ethnographic fieldwork (2018-)
This new project examines recent shifts in Maltese politics around gender and sexuality and on-the-ground activism for policy changes. I’m interested in how these political and social movements emerge and what sustains them, and how does the EU and international actors like the United Nations influence (or not) Maltese politics around gender and sexuality.
- Florida: collaborative research with College of Medicine (2016-)
Locally in Florida, I am part of a collaboration with colleagues at the UCF College of Medicine on research that examines access to healthcare for LGB youth. We hope to expand this important work from a pilot study to a larger project in the coming years.
My research has been funded by the European Research Council, Fulbright Scholarship, American Council of Learned Societies, International Research Exchanges Board (IREX), Devaney Fellowship, Charlotte Ellertson Postdoctoral Fellowship, and the Wenner-Gren Foundation. The Brocher Foundation, Geneva, Switzerland, has been an important supporter of my work and publications on access to assisted reproductive technologies in Europe.
My full list of publications can be found here.
Past Research (selected):
United Kingdom: Dec. 2016 – Aug. 2017
During my sabbatical, I researched cross-broader reproductive travel, focusing on Irish women’s experiences seeking abortion care in the United Kingdom, as part of a larger scholarship on gender governance. I held an academic affiliation as a visiting Researcher with the University of Kent, UK. This research was funded by UCF Rising Star Award, and Sabbatical Award.
Ireland and the EU (Brussels): 2009, 2010
During 5 months of fieldwork I examined reproductive governance and policy-making in Ireland and the EU. My work in Ireland focused on doctors and the role of religion in healthcare, while at the EU I focused on the context of intersecting local and international EU reproductive politics. This work was funded by New Faculty Research start-up funding.
Poland: 2014, 2015, 2016
This fieldwork focused on access to Assisted Reproductive Technologies for infertility care in Poland and the experiences and perspectives of reproductive rights advocacy groups in Warsaw.
This work was mainly funded by IREX and the Brocher Foundation.
Poland: 2000 – 2002, 2007
During my doctoral and postdoctoral research spanning 23 months of fieldwork I examined the politics of reproductive rights in Poland. My academic affiliation was with the Jagiellonian University, Krakow, for my PhD work, and with Columbia University for postdoctoral work. This research was funded by the Fulbright Scholarship, Charlotte Ellertson Research Grant, and others.
Two of Dr. Mishtal’s students win UCF Founders’ Day Outstanding Theses Awards in spring 2019:
Deven Gray (MA anthropology) won both the University Award for Outstanding Master’s Thesis and the College of Sciences Award for Outstanding Master’s Thesis for: “Managing an Epidemic: Zika Interventions and Community Responses in Belize” – recognized as the best MA thesis in Social Science, Humanities, Education, Business, Art and Health. Deven published his research in 2018 in a peer-reviewed journal Global Public Health Journal 14(1):9-22.
Sarah Davenport (Honors anthropology) won the University Award for Outstanding Honors Thesis in the category of Social Sciences, Business, and Education, for thesis: “Whose Sustainability? An Examination of Environmental Equity and Sustainability in Practice in Central Florida.” Sarah published her research in a peer-reviewed journal Culture, Agriculture, Food & Environment, Feb. 14, 2019.
2018 Faculty Excellent Scroll & Quill Society – recognition for sustained authorship in both books and peer-reviewed journal articles.
2018 College of Sciences Faculty Representative – UCF Commencement Spring 2018
2018 University – Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching Award, UCF, top recognition for best teaching at UCF
2018 College of Sciences – Excellence in Graduate Teaching Award, UCF, for recognition as the best graduate teacher at College of Sciences
2018 College of Sciences – Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching Award, UCF, top recognition for best teaching and mentoring at College of Sciences
In the News
3 Faculty Honored for Advancing Research, Creative Works
Three faculty members who maintained high levels of research excellence and creative works during the past year of the pandemic earned the 2021-22 UCF Women…
Anthropologist Wins Prestigious Book Award
Associate professor of anthropology, Joanna Mishtal, Ph.D., has won an award for her book, The Politics of Morality: The Church, the State and Reproductive Rights…