Ida Susser

Ida Susser - Distinguished Professor -  profile photo

Research Interests

  • The commons, class, gender, inequality and urban social movements; medical anthropology; in the contemporary United States, France, Spain, and Southern Africa.


  • PhD Columbia 1981


Affiliated Campus(es)

  • Hunter College

Ida Susser, Distinguished Professor of anthropology at Hunter College and the CUNY Graduate Center, has conducted ethnographic research in the U.S., Southern Africa, Puerto Rico, Spain, and France, with a focus on urban social movements and the urban commons, gender, the global AIDS epidemic, and environmental movements.

Her research in Barcelona and Paris (2019) was funded by an award from the National Science Foundation. Susser’s investigation probes the context of the political polarization in Europe following the 2008 recession during which the extreme right has been energized while new progressive parties have been formed. The study involves examining the social transformation in the practice of democracy that may be occurring in those cities with respect to the controversial efforts of young people, as well as the middle-aged population and pensioners who are joining mass demonstrations in both Spain and France.

Her ethnographic approach allows for an analysis of the popular pressures, changes in work, changes in class formation and the social reproduction of society that have led to such new movements.

Susser is the author of numerous books, chapters, and articles, including the book The Tumultuous Politics of Scale (co-edited with Don Nonini). (Forthcoming, Rutledge Press 2019).

The updated version of another book, Norman Street: Poverty and Politics in an Urban Neighborhood (Oxford University Press 2012), is a study of New York City during and after the 1975 fiscal crisis. A new chapter, “Claiming a Right to New York City,” discusses the changing neighborhoods, including the displacement of artists as well as poor people, of Greenpoint and Williamsburg in Brooklyn, New York, from the earlier ethnography up to the Occupy movement of 2011.The original edition (Oxford 1982) explores working class consciousness, racism, ethnic identities and gender in the emergence of social movements in those localities.

Professor Susser’s book AIDS, Sex and Culture: Global Politics and Survival in Southern Africa (Wiley-Blackwell 2009) was awarded the Eileen Basker Memorial Prize for research in women and health, by the Society for Medical Anthropology (2012). It discusses the ways in which men and women mobilized against the denialism of political officials, to prevent and treat AIDS in Southern Africa—from small group meetings to major demonstrations—and how these strong, social protest movements were ultimately successful in changing AIDS policy in South Africa.

Her other books include Medical Anthropology in the World System (co-authored with Hans Baer and Merril Singer), Wounded Cities: Destruction and Reconstruction in a Globalized World (co-edited with Jane Schneider), and Rethinking America (co-edited with Jeff Maskovsky).

Susser received the Distinguished Achievement Award in the Critical Study of North America from the Society for the Anthropology of North America, and has been the recipient of numerous grants, including the MacArthur Foundation Research and Writing Fellowship, the National Endowment for the Humanities, the National Institute of Health and the National Science Foundation, among others.

She was co-chair of the Social Science Track for the 2008 Mexico City International AIDS Society Conference and the AAA Commission of World Anthropologies. Additionally, she is a founding member of the steering committee of Athena: Advancing Gender Equity and Human Rights in the Global Response to HIV/AIDS, and is past President of the American Ethnological Society and founding President of the Society for the Anthropology of North America.

Susser received her Ph.D. from Columbia University.

Selected Publications

  • n.d. “Traditional healers and first onset psychosis: organic community therapy” M. Van der Zeijst, W. Veling, E. Makhatini, S. Mtshemla, E. Susser, J.K.Burns, H.W. Hoek, I. Susser, submitted to Social Science and Medicine
  • 2018 “Re-envisioning social movements in the global city” in Worldwide Mobilizations eds. D. Kalb and M. Mollona, Berghahn Books
  • 2018 "The Contemporary Significance of the Moral Economy: is housing a home or an asset?” for Special Issue on Housing, ed. Catherine Alexander for Critique of Anthropology
  • 2017 “For or Against Commoning” introduction to Special Issue “Exploring the Commons” in Focaal:Journal of Global and Historical Anthropology Vol. 79 editor I.Susser
  • 2017 “Commoning in New York City, Barcelona and Paris” in Special Issue “Exploring the Commons” in Focaal:Journal of Global and Historical Anthropology Vol. 79 editor I.Susser
  • 2017 “Scale-making” in the Anthropology of Politics, Law, Power and Identity in the International Encyclopedia of Anthropology, under the general editorship of Hilary Callan, former Director of the Royal Anthropological Institute, Wiley-Blackwell
  • 2016 Considering the Commons: Anthropological Aproaches to Social Movements, Dialectical Anthropology
  • 2016 “A new critical anthropology for the present” Jeff Maskovsky and I. Susser, in Anthropology After the Crisis, ed. J. Carrier, Routledge
  • 2015 “Are randomized control trials always required?” L. Kuhn, Z. Stein, I. Susser, Comment in Lancet HIV, vol 2, November 2015. (as a continuation of a previous discussion we published in the Lancet.)
  • 2014 “Austerity: New York City (1975) and Detroit (2013)”, in “Austerity and Resistance in the Midwest”, Anthropology Now vol. 6(3) pp. i-iv, 1-131 Special Issue edited I.Susser and Molly Doane
  • 2014 “Gender in the City” in Don Nonini ed. A Companion to Urban Anthropology, Wiley-Blackwell pp. 177-193
  • 2014 “Austerity: New York City (1975) and Detroit (2013)”, for Special Issue of Anthropology Now in preparation
  • 2014 in press “Gender in the City” in Don Nonini ed. Urban Anthropology Reader, Blackwell
  • 2014 in press “Bio-Insecurity, Gender and HIV/AIDS in South Africa” in The Anthropology of Bio-Insecurity eds L.Sharp, N. Chen, Santa Fe: School of Advanced Research Press
  • *2013 “Transformative Cities” with Stephane Tonnelat in Focaal:Journal of Global and Historical Anthropology (a European Journal based in the Central European University, Budapest, Hungary) essay published as an international forum with responses by Susana Narotzky (University of Barcelona), Jane Collins (University of Wisconsin), Alain Bertho (University of Paris) vol. 2013, 66, Summer pp. 105-132
  • *2011 “Organic intellectuals, crossing scales, and the emergence of social movements with respect to AIDS in South Africa” (Presidential Address) American Ethnologist, Volume 38, Issue 4 November, pp.733-742
  • *2011 “Can further placebo-controlled trials of antiretroviral drugs to prevent sexual transmission of HIV be justified?” Louise Kuhn, Ida Susser, Zena Stein, Lancet 2011; 378: 285–87
  • 2011 Foreword to Megacities and Global Health eds. Omar A. Khan and Gregory Pappas American Public Health Association, p. v-xiii
  • 2011 “Gavin Smith’s Selective Hegemonies” Identities, Jan/Feb2011, Vol. 18 Issue 1, p54-62
  • 2011 “A Comment on Friedman and Rossi’s Dialectics of HIV: Agency, Resistance and Gender” Dialectical anthropology, vol 35, no.4, pp 435-441
  • 2010 “Microbicide Success: New Opportunities for Women” Z.Stein and I.Susser published with responses from specialists in the field, Special Issue of AIDS Legal Quarterly pp.38-56, October
  • 2010 “Microbicide Success: Feminism is Essential to Good Science” published online, Open Democracy July, selected as one of the top ten articles for 2010 and reprinted online December 2010
  • 2010 “The Anthropologist as Social Critic: Working Toward a More Engaged Anthropology” In current Anthropology volume 51, S2, April 2010
  • 2008 “Women in the Time of AIDS: Barriers, Bargains and Benefits” in AIDS Education and Prevention, 20 (2) pp. 91-106 (with J. Mantell and Z. Stein)
  • 2007 “Women and AIDS in the Second Millenium” in Women Studies Quarterly 35 (1,2). Pp. 336-344
  • 2007 “Confounding Conventional Wisdom: The Ju’/hoansi and HIV/AIDS” (with Richard Lee) in Updating the San: Image and Reality of an African People in the 21st Century. Eds, R. Hitchcock, et al., Senri Ethnological Series no. 70, National Museum of Ethnology, Osaka, Japan. Pp.45-61
  • 2006 “Working Class Struggles in New York City: from the neighborhood to the homeless shelter” in Rome and New York City: Comparative Urban Problems at the End of the 20th Century. Eds. Victor Goldsmith and Eugenio Sonnino, Casa Editrice Universita, La Sapienza. Pp.151-171
  • 2006 “Castells: The City and the Grassroots: an anthropological perspective,” International Journal of Urban and Regional Planning, 30(1). Pp. 212-218
  • 2004 “From the Cosmopolitan to the Personal: women’s mobilization with respect to HIV/AIDS” in Social Movements, Ed. June Nash. Blackwell Publishers. Pp.272-284
  • 2003Ju/’hoansi Survival in the face of HIV: questions of poverty and gender” in Anthropologica 45. Pp.121-128
  • 2002 “Losing Ground: Advancing Capitalism and the Relocation of Working Class Communities” in Locating Capitalism in Time and Space: Global Restructurings, Politics, and Identity, David Nugent (Ed.). Stanford University Press. Pp. 274- 289
  • 2002The Health Rights of Women in the Age of AIDS” in the International, Journal of Epidemiology, 31. Pp. 45-48
  • 2001Sexual Negotiations in relation to Political Mobilization: the prevention of HIV in comparative context” in The Journal of AIDS and Behavior.June 5(2). Pp. 163-172
  • 2000 “Culture,Sexuality and Women’s Agencyin the Prevention of HIV/AIDS in Southern Africa” with Zena Stein, in American Journal of Public Health, July 90(7) Pp. 1042-1049
  • 1999 “Inequality, Violence and Gender Relations in a Global City: New York, 1986- 96” in special issue on "Gendered Violence," Mary Anglin (ed.). Identities: Global Studies in Culture and Power 5 (2). Pp. 219-248
  • 1997 "The Flexible Woman: Regendering Labor in the Informational Society," Critique of Anthropology 17(4). Pp. 389-402
  • 1996 "The Construction of Poverty and Homelessness in U.S. Cities," Annual Reviews in Anthropology 25. Pp. 411-435
  • 1993 "Creating Family Forms: The exclusion of men and teenage boys from families in the New York City shelter system, 1987-91," Critique of Anthropology 13(3). Pp. 267-283
  • 1991 "The Separation of Mothers and Children" in John Mollenkopf and Manuel Castells. The Dual City . New York: Russell Sage Foundation.
Ida Susser - Distinguished Professor -  profile photo


Affiliated Campus(es)

  • Hunter College