Pamela Block

Pamela Block


Professor - Sociocultural Anthropology

PhD 1997 (Duke University)
Office: Social Science Centre 3425
Tel: 519 661-2111  ext. 85077

Video Bio
My Current Research Projects
Disability Portraits from Brazil


Research Interests

My research interests include disability culture, cultural perceptions of disability, and the intersections of disability, sexuality, gender, race, ethnicity, and social status.  I study disability experience on individual, organizational and community levels, with past funded research involving socio-environmental barriers, empowerment/capacity-building, and health promotion. My qualitative research methodologies combine historical and discourse analyses with community-based ethnographic, autoethnographic, and participatory approaches. I am particularly interested in movements for disability liberation (justice and rights) and disability oppression (eugenics, sterilization, mass-incarceration and killing) in Brazil, the United States and Canada.

Recent Publications


Carey, A., Block, P., and Scotch R. (2020). Allies and Obstacles: Parents of Children with Disabilities and Disability Rights. Philadelphia, PA: Temple University Press. (Book Talk and Panel Discussion here)

Block, P., Kasnitz, D., Nishida, A., and Pollard N., eds. (2016). Occupying Disability: Critical Approaches to Community, Justice and Decolonizing Disability. New York: Springer, Ltd.


Lorandi, J. M. and Block, P. (2023) Social and health experiences of disabled people with complex medical conditions during the COVID-19 pandemic. Research in Social Science and Disability.

Alumukhtara, A., Johnstone, L. DePasquale, R., Warren, N., and Block, P. (2022) Aging with (and into) Assistive Technology: An exploration of the narratives of amputees and polio survivors. Disability and Rehabilitation: Assistive Technology, DOI: 10.1080/17483107.2022.2131916

Karp, P. and Block, P.(2022). Float to Grow: Nurturing the Roots of Socially Inclusive and Just Practice in Occupational Therapy Students. Brazilian Journal of Occupational Therapy.

Gesser, M., Block P., and Mello A.G. (2022) Estudios sobre discapacidad: interseccionalidad, anticapacitismo y emancipación social. Andamios 19(49).

Block, P. with Diallo, S. (2020). Activism, anthropology and disability studies in times of austerity. Wenner Gren Symposium Proceedings. Current Anthropology.61(21): S68-S75

Book Chapters

Ramawati, D., Block, P. (2021). Sexuality and Sexual Rights of Young Adults with Intellectual Disability in Central Java, Indonesia. Routledge Handbook of Disability and Sexuality. New York: Routledge

Gesser, M., Block P. Mello A. (2021). Estudos da deficiência: interseccionalidade, anticapacitismo e emancipação social. In (Eds. Gesser, M; Böck, G & Lopes, P. H.) Estudos da Deficiência: anticapacitismo e emancipação social [Disability Studies: Anti-ableism and social emancipation]. Florianópolis: CVC.

Block, P. 2020 Esterilizacao e Controle Sexual. In (Eds. D. Allebrandt, N. E. Meinerz, P.G. Nascimento) Desigualidades e Politicas da Ciencia. Forianopolis: Casa Verde. 

Evans, C., Milazzo, M. and Block, P. (2020) “Re-Thinking Disability Community:  Chosen and Ascribed Communities or Intersecting Communities and Communities in Conflict.” In (Ed. Bettina Jansen) Rethinking Community Towards Transdisciplinary Community Research. New York: Palgrave.


Teaching and Graduate Supervision

Courses I have taught:

2278 - Anthropology of Race, Ethnicity and Identity
Course Outline

2290 - Cultures of Health, Illness, Disability and Healing
Course Outline

3354/9230 - Disability and Health in Local and Global Worlds
Course Outline

3356F/9217 - Anthropology and Embodiment
Course Outline

3378 - Bio-Cultural Debates in Race and Ethnicity
Course Outline

3382 - Intersectional Identities in Brazil
Course Outline

3393/9225 - Deviance, Difference, and Resistance
Course Outline

Recent PhD graduates include:

Dian Ramawati, Defended August 2022 HRS/DS, SBU “Sexuality, Sexual Education, and Sexual Rights of Young Adults with Intellectual Disabilities in Indonesia”

Alexandra Wagner, Defended June 2020 HRS/DS, SBU. “Understanding the Experiences of Older Adults with Age Related Cognitive Changes Who are Aging in Place”

Maria Milazzo,  Defended August 2019, HRS/DS, SBU. “Lessons about Living Well at the Intersection of Adolescence and Multiple Sclerosis”

Sylette Henry-Buckmire, Defended August 2018 HRS/DS, SBU. “Mobility-as-Occupation: Justice Manoeuvres and Negotiations in T&T”

Cassandra Evans, Defended December 2017 HRS/DS, SBU. “Asylum to Community and In Between: Examining the post-Deinstitutionalization Transitional Experiences of Mentally Disabled Individuals in Suffolk County, Long Island”