Dr. Rania Kassab Sweis

Associate Professor of Anthropology and Global Studies
Healthcare Studies Faculty Advisory Board


Dr. Rania K. Sweis's research interests focus on medical anthropology, critical global health and humanitarian studies, transnational gender and feminist theory, and the Middle East and North Africa Region. Her publications have appeared in the journals such as Medical Anthropology QuarterlyChildhood, Journal for Middle Eastern Women's Studies, and the International Journal for Middle East Studies. Dr. Sweis is the recipient of various research awards and grants, including those from the Social Science Research Council, the Association for Feminist Anthropology, the Middle East Studies Association. Her first book project, Paradoxes of Care: Children and Medical Humanitarianism in Egypt, is based on over 2 years of ethnographic fieldwork in Egypt with children, healthcare workers, and global aid experts. It traces the impact of global health interventions with vulnerable children over time and highlights the complex effects global medicine engenders in local sites throughout Egypt. Dr. Sweis is currently developing a second book project that focuses on medical humanitarian interventions in the Syrian Civil War.

Grants and Fellowships

Arts & Sciences Travel Grant

Arts & Sciences Summer Research Fellowship

Arts & Sciences Course Transformation Grant. Program for Enhancing Teaching Effectiveness (PETE), University of Richmond

Arts & Sciences Summer Research Fellowship, University of Richmond

Arts & Sciences Faculty Research Grant, University of Richmond

Arts & Sciences Travel Grant, University of Richmond

Arts & Sciences Summer Research Fellowship, University of Richmond

Teaching Effectiveness Grant, University of Richmond, Program for Enhancing Teaching Effectiveness

Bates College Faculty Research Development Grant

Stanford University Research Institute of Comparative Studies in Race and Ethnicity Dissertation Fellowship

Stanford University Clayman Institute for Gender Research Dissertation Fellowship

Stanford University Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies O'bie Shultz Dissertation Completion Grant and Fellowship

Stanford University Center on Philanthropy and Civil Society Dissertation Research Grant

Stanford University Graduate Research Opportunity Award

Stanford University Abassi Center for Islamic Studies Research Grant

Stanford University Foreign Language Area Scholarship for Classical Arabic

SSRC International Dissertation Research Fellowship Andrew W. Mellon Foundation


2011. Middle East Studies Association Graduate Paper Prize

2011. Journal of Middle East Women's Studies Graduate Paper Prize

2009. The Zora Neale Hurston Dissertation Travel Award in Feminist Anthropology. Awarded by the Association for Feminist Anthropology (AFA)

2004. Winner of the National Outstanding Research Paper Award granted by The American Academy of Political and Social Sciences (AAPSS)

2003. Winner of The Renée Riese Hubert Award in Women’s Studies for Outstanding Research Paper, University of California Irvine


American Anthropological Association

Middle East Studies Association

International Union of Anthropological and Ethnological Sciences

Arab American Studies Association

Selected Publications


Torn Apart: Medical Humanitarianism and the Syrian Civil War. In progress.

Paradoxes of Care: Children and the Politics of Medical Humanitarianism in Egypt. Revise and Resubmit. Stanford University Press


Sweis, R. K. (2019). DOCTORS WITH BORDERS: HIERARCHIES OF HUMANITARIANS AND THE SYRIAN CIVIL WAR. International Journal of Middle East Studies51(4), 587–601. Cambridge University Press.

"Security and the Traumatized Street Child: How Gender Shapes International Psychiatric Aid in Cairo." Medical Anthropology Quarterly, Vol 32. No. 1. 2017.

     *Top Downloaded Article 2017-2018 - Medical Anthropology Quarterly

“Children as Biological Sufferers?: The Paradox of International Medical Aid for Homeless Children in Cairo.” Childhood, Vol. 24, No. 4, 2017.

"Saving Egypt's Village Girls: Humanity, Rights, and Gendered Vulnerability in a Global Youth Initiative." JMEWS, Vol. 8, No. 2, 2012.

     *Winner of the Journal of Middle East Women's Studies Graduate Research Paper Award

     *Winner of the Middle East Studies Association Graduate Paper Prize 

"Rethinking Gender and Childhood in Egypt." Anthropology News, Vol. 52, No. 5, 2011.

“From Revolution to the Everyday: Rethinking Childhood, Youth and Poverty in Egypt.” Gender News. Michelle R. Clayman Institute for Gender Research. 2011.

“The Anthropology of Global Productions: Producing and Critiquing the Global.” Co-authored with Nikhil Anand, Hannah Appel, Elif Babul and Robert Samet. Anthropology News. Vol. 47, No. 6. 2006.


“Do Muslim Village Girl’s Need Saving?: Critical Reflections on Gender and the Suffering Child in International Aid.” in The Status of Women and Girls: A Global Perspective, Lexington Books, 2017.


"Children as Caregivers: The Global Fight Against Tuberculosis and HIV in Zambia." Jean Hunleth. Rutgers University Press, 2017. Medical Anthropology Quarterly. Vol 32, No. 4. 2018.

“Cultivating the Nile: The Everyday Politics of Water in Egypt.” Jessica Barnes. Duke University Press, 2014. American Anthropologist. Volume 118. No. 2. June 2016. Pages 416-417.

“Islam and Assisted Reproductive Technologies: Sunni and Shia Perspectives.” Edited by Marcia C. Inhorn and Soraya Tremayne. American Ethnologist. Vol. 41, No. 1. 2014. Pages 216-218.


Ph.D., Stanford University

M.A., Stanford University

B.A., University of California, Irvine

Contact Information

302L Weinstein Hall
(804) 289-8071
(804) 287-1278 (Fax)

Areas of Expertise

The Middle East and North Africa
Critical medical anthropology
Humanitarianism and global health
Global poverty and international aid
Structural violence and social suffering
Transnational feminist theory
Ethnographic theory and research methods