Associate Professor
Medical and cultural anthropology, infectious disease, death and dying, India, United States

Carnegie 207d


Fall 2022
Professor Barrett is on sabbatical.

Spring 2023
Professor Barrett is on sabbatical.

Ron Barrett (a.k.a. Dr. Ron) is a cultural and medical anthropologist whose research has focused on the social aspects of infectious diseases, religious healing, and the ways that human beings come to terms with their mortality. He has conducted fieldwork in Northern and Western India as well as in the United States.

Professor Barrett also conducted NSF-sponsored research on health-seeking for influenza-like illnesses in a western Indian slum community. He has co-edited a reader with Peter J. Brown, Understanding and Applying Medical Anthropology (2nd Edition), published by McGraw-Hill in 2009. In addition to several book and encyclopedia chapters, he has articles published in Medical Anthropology Quarterly, Medical Anthropology, The Annual Review of Anthropology, and The Journal of Infectious Diseases.  He co-authored a book with George Armelagos on the human determinants of infectious diseases from the Paleolithic to the present day. The book is entitled, An Unnatural History of Emerging Infections (Oxford University Press, 2013).

He received a bachelors degree in anthropology from the University of Colorado (1990), a second bachelors in nursing from Johns Hopkins University (1992), and a Ph.D. in anthropology at Emory University (2002). He has worked as a clinical nurse in hospice, brain injury rehabilitation, and neuro-intensive care. Prior to joining the faculty at Macalester, Professor Barrett taught in the Department of Anthropological Sciences at Stanford University for five years, and in the Emory School of Nursing and Department of Anthropology for two years. He has also taught overseas seminars on religion and healing in northern India, a comparative health systems course in Oxford, England, and directed a field research program in Tanzania.

He teaches courses in medical anthropology, cultural and general anthropology, ethnographic field methods, emerging infections, world healing traditions, and stigma and disabilities.  He also teaches a civic engagement course on the anthropology of death and dying during which he and his students volunteer in a local area hospice.

Defense Against the Dark Arts

Ron Barrett co-taught this unconventional anthropology/religion class that drew an enthusiastic crowd of students. More