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Aaron Ansell

Aaron Ansell, Associate Professor

Aaron Ansell, Associate Professor
Aaron Ansell, Associate Professor

Department of Religion and Culture

540-231-0491 |

Aaron Ansell is an associate professor in the Department of Religion an Culture. Ansell is currently researching public healthcare and poor people's health-seeking activities in rural, Northeast Brazil. As with all of his work, this project attends to the communicative forms that Brazilians use to negotiate resources either through traditional political brokers ("patronage") or through liberal bureaucratic procedures. Ansell examines these issues in the context of an important regime change in Brazil, the rise of the left-wing Workers' Party government (2003-present).

  • Sociocultural anthropology
  • Northeast Brazil
  • Alternative democracy
  • Political discourse
  • anti-poverty policy
  • Co-director, MA in Material Culture and Pubic Humanities
  • Co-editor, Society for Linguistic Anthropology "Section News"
  • Annual Book Award, Latin American Studies Association, Brazil Section, 2015
  • Annual Book Award "Honorary Mention." Association for Political and Legal Anthropology, 2015
  • Certificate of Teaching Excellence, Virginia Tech, College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences, 2015


Zero Hunger: Political Culture and Antipoverty Policy in Northeast Brazil. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2014

Journal Articles

2015. Democracy as the Negation of Discourse: Liberalism, Clientelism, and Agency in Northeast Brazil" in American Ethnologist 42(4): 688-702

2015. Lula's Assault on Rural Patronage: Zero Hunger, Ethnic Mobilization and the Deployment of Pilgrimage" in Journal of Peasant Studies 42(6): 1263-1283

2010. "Auctioning Patronage in Northeast Brazil: the Political Value of Money in a Ritual Market" in American Anthropologist 112(2): 283-294

2009. "'But the Winds Will Turn Against You': An Analysis of Wealth-forms and the Discursive Space of Development in Northeast Brazil" in American Ethnologist 36(1): 96-109

  • "Love: An Introduction to College" 4VA Course Redesign Grant, Virginia Tech, $24,000
  • "Democracy and Public Healthcare in Brazil," Grant Writing Incentive Grant, College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences, Virginia Tech $8,400

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