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Photo of Ansari, David

David Ansari, MSc, PhD

Assistant Professor

Faculty Affiliate of Anthropology

Department of Medical Education



David Ansari is a Bridge to the Faculty Postdoctoral Research Associate in the Department of

Medical Education. A cultural and medical anthropologist, his research and teaching interests

encompass the social determinants of mental health, race and belonging, and health

professions education. During the 2022-2023, he is an Arnold P. Gold Foundation Gold Humanism Scholar in the Harvard Macy Institute Program for Educators in Health Professions. During the 2023-2024 academic year, he will be a faculty fellow in the Institute for Research on Race and Public Policy.

His book, The Next Generation of Therapists: Migration, Belonging, and Mental Health Care, examines evolving perceptions of race, religion, and belonging—and their therapeutic importance—among psychotherapists in France. He conducted ethnographic fieldwork in mental health clinics for refugees and immigrants in Paris from late 2014 until 2016, during the height of the refugee crisis in Europe. He analyzes how apprentice therapists develop embodied clinical and caring skills under the guidance of supervising therapists. He demonstrates how the fraught relationships between supervising therapists, many of whom came to France as immigrants, and apprentice therapists, many of whom identify as second or third-generation descendants of immigrants, illustrate evolutions in thinking about what it means to belong in contemporary France.

He is extending his research on the experiences of health professions students in France to examine the affective dimensions of developing clinical and therapeutic skill and expertise in contexts of injustice. He refers to this the haunted curriculum, which blends scholarship on the hidden curriculum, or the subtle and implicit aspects of clinical training, and hauntology, which examines how violent histories continue to permeate the present. He is interested in exploring how institutions of clinical training both challenge and reproduce specters of violence and injustice.

As a Gold Humanism Scholar in the Harvard Macy Institute, he is developing a new project that examines how medical students and faculty reflect on race and representation in simulation.

He has published in SSM-Mental Health, Transcultural Psychiatry, Medicine Anthropology Theory, Culture, Health & Sexuality, and Health & Social Care in the Community. His research has been funded by the National Institutes of Health, the Georges Lurcy Educational and Charitable Trust, and the Society for Psychological Anthropology, among other sources.

He completed his PhD at the University of Chicago and his MSc at the London School of Economics. Prior to completing his graduate studies, he was a Fulbright research scholar in Senegal, and a Post-baccalaureate Intramural Research Training Awardee (IRTA) at the National Institute on Aging. He has held academic positions at Washington University in St. Louis, Sciences Po, and King’s College London.