Peter Benson, PhD
Associate Professor, Department of Anthropology, Arts & Sciences
Dr. Benson's anthropological research has focused on tobacco-related public health issues, as seen from rural North Carolina, where he has conducted extensive ethnographic fieldwork with tobacco growers, Mexican and Latino migrant farmworkers, and antismoking advocates. He is currently completing a book examining how the public health politics and activism that surround smoking on a national stage impact rapidly diversifying and restructuring rural communities in North Carolina. This book also exposes the morass of economic and ethical paradoxes related to the use of rhetorics of corporate social responsibility among tobacco companies. His work expands the scope of the public health picture related to tobacco to include important issues found at the farm-level, including migrant health and housing problems.
His academic background reflects a great deal of experience in collaborative projects centered on public health issues. As a graduate student at Harvard University, Dr. Benson was part of a research project, headed by Dr. Arthur Kleinman, which examined ethical and cultural issues in health care. Among other teaching experience in medical anthropology, he served as a Teaching Fellow at the Harvard Medical School in a course entitled "Introduction to Social Medicine," offered by Drs. Paul Farmer, Jim Yong Kim, and Allan Brandt.
What opportunities do you see for interdisciplinary collaboration on public health initiatives in the future?
"Given my research focus on tobacco, I envision making connections with researchers in the Medical School and the School of Social Work. I am excited about the possibility of working with faculty who share an interest in corporate social responsibility and the regulation of harmful industries and healthcare. These connections will inform the quality and scope of my ongoing research on tobacco, public health, and corporate responsibility, including potential collaborations on research projects and programming across disciplines and schools."