Elana Buch, Ph.D.

Associate Professor

Elana Buch is an Associate Professor in the Department of Anthropology at the University of Iowa. A sociocultural, medical, and applied anthropologist, Dr. Buch received her M.S.W. and Ph.D. from the University of Michigan's Joint Program in Social Work and Social Science (Anthropology).  She is broadly interested in the ways that large scale sociocultural changes shape and are shaped by everyday practice and intimate relationships and how these together generate forms of social difference and inequality. Her research focuses on how inequality is implicated in the emerging ways that people, families, and states organize kinship, labor, and caregiving in the wake of population aging. 

Her first book, Inequalities of Aging: Paradoxes of Independence in American Home Care (2018, NYU Press­) shows how the work that enables a growing number of older adults to age independently also generates profound social inequalities. In addition, she has published articles and chapters theorizing the role of embodiment, rites of passage, gift exchange, and personhood in aging and caregiving.

Dr. Buch is at work on two new ethnographic projects. Transforming Care on the American Prairie investigates how migration and economic change are reshaping ecological, familial, and communal care practices in rural America. In New Love in Later Life: Intimacy and Kinship in Old Age, Dr. Buch examines the ways that older adults’ new romantic relationships are reshaping the meanings of both kinship and intimacy in the United States.

Courses Taught 

  • ANTH:2100 Anthropology & Contemporary World Problems
  • ANTH:2102 Anthropology of Marriage and Family
  • ANTH:2181 The Anthropology of Aging
  • ANTH:3117 Using Ethnographic Methods
  • ANTH:3151 The Anthropology of the Beginnings and Ends of Life
  • ANTH:3152 Anthropology of Caregiving and Health
  • ANTH:5130 Food, Cultural, and Society
  • ANTH:6115 Ethnographic Field Methods

Research Interests

  • Care
  • Aging
  • Disability
  • The Body
  • Labor
  • Kinship
  • Inequality
  • The Aftermath of War,
  • Social Policy
  • United States
Research areas
  • Sociocultural Anthropology
  • Medical Anthropology
Elana Buch

241 Macbride Hall (MH)
Iowa City, IA 52242
United States