My name is Dr. Rebecca Martinez, and I earned my Ph.D. from the University of California, Irvine in an interdisciplinary program entitled Social Relations. Although I consider myself to be an anthropologist by training, being a professor in Women’s and Gender Studies has been instrumental in developing my research and teaching through an interdisciplinary and intersectional lens.
My research interests include women’s reproductive health, health inequities, gender and migration studies, Latin America and gender policy, and Latinx feminism.
As an undergraduate and graduate student I conducted ethnographic research in Southern California on health beliefs among Mexican and Salvadoran immigrant women, Chicanas, and physicians. It was my great interest in and excitement about this work that led my to do research on women’s health in South America.
I am publishing a book based on my field research in Venezuela, where, as a Fulbright Scholar, I investigated the social construction of medical knowledge related to cervical cancer and patient/doctor interactions in the treatment process for this disease. In this book I examine the intersections of medicine, morality, and hygiene in social and cultural understandings and representations of cervical cancer during the 1990s, an era of neoliberalism.
Currently, I am continuing to conduct research in South America, this time in Argentina. This country is only among a handful that has enacted legislation against what is known as obstetric violence. This is a broad concept that encompasses many forms of mistreatment of women during labor and childbirth. I hope this research will contribute to better visibility and understanding about the scale of this type of abuse.
My teaching also intersects with my research, and gives me the opportunity to work creatively with students to explore their own interests. I teach the following courses: The Politics of Reproduction, Gender and Migration, Latinxs in the U.S. & Intro to WGST.