Claire Wendland, MD, PhD
Reproductive and Population Health


Administrative Assistant


Claire Wendland, MD, PhD, FACOG is Professor in the Departments of Anthropology and Obstetrics & Gynecology. Her areas of active research, teaching and publication are primarily related to medical training and practice in contexts of scarcity and inequality. She is an ethnographer with experience in a range of qualitative methodologies. Her research has been funded with intramural and extramural grants including a 2019-20 Fellowship from the American College of Learned Societies. Her medical degree is from Michigan State University, and she completed her residency in Ob-Gyn at University of New Mexico. Before her graduate studies in anthropology (at UMass Amherst), she worked in the Navajo area of the Indian Health Service both at Chinle Comprehensive Health Care Facility and at Gallup Indian Medical Center, where she was Chief of the Ob-Gyn Department. Her teaching at UW-Madison has been recognized with the Dr. Brenda Pfaehler Award of Excellence, the Phillip R. Certain Letters & Science Distinguished Faculty Award, and the Chancellor’s Distinguished Teaching Award. 


1986 BS Linguistics, Michigan State University, East Lansing, Michigan
1990 MD Michigan State University College of Human Medicine, East Lansing, Michigan
1994 Residency Obstetrics & Gynecology, University of New Mexico, Albuquerque, New Mexico
2004 PhD Anthropology, University of Massachusetts at Amherst, Amherst, Massachusetts


2020–present: State of Wisconsin Department of Safety and Professional Services
1996–present: American Board of Obstetrics and Gynecology 
1993–present: New Mexico Board of Medical Examiners     
2002–2009: Malawi Medical Council Register of Specialists
1991: Certified, National Board of Medical Examiners


American College of Obstetricians & Gynecologists, Fellow 1996-present, Junior Fellow 1990-96
Alpha Omega Alpha Medical Honor Society
American Anthropological Association
Society for Medical Anthropology
African Studies Associatin
Phi Kappa Phi
Phi Beta Kappa
American Association for the Advancement of Science

Wendland CL. Physician Anthropologists. Annual Review of Anthropology. 2019 Oct 21;48:187-205.

Wendland C. Who counts? What counts? Place and the limits of perinatal mortality measures. AMA Journal of Ethics. 2018 Mar 1;20(3):278-87.

Wendland CL. Opening up the black box: looking for a more capacious version of capacity in global health partnerships. Canadian Journal of African Studies. 2016 Sep 1;50(3):415-35.

Peters RW, Wendland C. Up the Africanist: the possibilities and problems of ‘studying up’in Africa. Critical African Studies. 2016 Sep 1;8(3):239-54.

Sulzer SH, Feinstein NW, Wendland CL. Assessing empathy development in medical education: a systematic review. Medical Education. 2016 Mar;50(3):300-10.

Erikson SL, Wendland C. Exclusionary practice: medical schools and global health clinical electives. BMJ. 2014 Jun 5;348.

Wendland CL. Exceptional deliveries: home births as ethical anomalies in American obstetrics. The Journal of clinical ethics. 2013;24(3):253-65.

Mkandawire-Valhmu L, Wendland C, Stevens PE, Kako PM, Dressel A, Kibicho J. Marriage as a risk factor for HIV: Learning from the experiences of HIV-infected women in Malawi. Global Public Health. 2013 Feb 1;8(2):187-201.

Borders N, Wendland C, Haozous E, Leeman L, Rogers R. Midwives’ Verbal Support of Nulliparous Women in Second‐Stage Labor. Journal of Obstetric, Gynecologic & Neonatal Nursing. 2013 May 1;42(3):311-20.

Wendland C, Baszanger I, Bharadwaj A, Geissler PW, Gibson D, Kamat VR, Kyaddondo D, Langwick S, Meinert L, Pfeiffer J, Redfield P. Animating biomedicine’s moral order: the crisis of practice in Malawian medical training. Current Anthropology. 2012 Dec 1;53(6):755-788.

Wendland CL. Moral maps and medical imaginaries: clinical tourism at Malawi's college of medicine. American Anthropologist. 2012 Mar;114(1):108-22.

Wendland CL. Health Electives in Africa and the Duty to Care in the Age of HIV/AIDS. AMA Journal of Ethics. 2010 Mar 1;12(3):218-24.

Wendland CL. Research, therapy, and bioethical hegemony: the controversy over perinatal AZT trials in Africa. African Studies Review. 2008 Dec 1:1-23.

Wendland CL. The Vanishing Mother: Cesarean Section and “Evidence‐Based Obstetrics”. Medical Anthropology Quarterly. 2007 Jun;21(2):218-33.

Wendland C, Bandawe C. A qualitative study of medical student socialization in Malawi's College of Medicine: Preclinical training and identity. Malawi Medical Journal. 2007;19(2):68-71.

Wendland C, Bandawe C. A qualitative study of medical student socialization in Malawi's College of Medicine: Clincal crisis and beyond. Malawi Medical Journal. 2007 Oct 16;19(2):71-4.

Wendland C.  The Cult of Domesticity and the Brotherhood of Science: Gendering American Medicine in the Nineteenth Century.  The Pharos. 2006;69(3):30-37.

Leeman LM, Wendland CL. Cervical ectopic pregnancy: diagnosis with endovaginal ultrasound examination and successful treatment with methotrexate. Archives of Family Medicine. 2000 Jan 1;9(1):72.

Wendland CL, Byrn F, Hill C. Donor insemination: a comparison of lesbian couples, heterosexual couples and single women. Fertility and Sterility. 1996 Apr 1;65(4):764-70.


Wendland CL. A Heart for the Work: Journeys Through an African Medical School. University of Chicago Press; 2010.

Wendland C. Excerpts from A Heart for the Work [pp. 2-4, 120-133, 157-163] reprinted in Foundations of Global Health: An Interdisciplinary Reader, editors Peter Brown and Svea Closser, pp. 385-396. New York: Oxford University Press; 2018.

Wendland C. Legitimate care, dangerous care, and childbirth in an urban African community. In African Medical Pluralism, editors Carolyn Sargent and William Olsen, pp. 244-260. Bloomington: Indiana University Press; 2017.

Wendland C, Erikson S, and Sullivan N.  Beneath the spin: moral complexity and rhetorical simplicity in global health volunteering.  In Volunteer Economies: The Politics and Ethics of Voluntary Labour in Africa, editors Hannah Brown and Ruth J. Prince, pp. 164-182. London: James Currey Press; 2016.

Wendland C. Estimating death: a close reading of maternal mortality metrics in Malawi. In Metrics: What Counts in Global Health, editor Vincanne Adams, pp. 57-81. Durham, NC: Duke University Press; 2016.

Wendland C, Bandawe C.  Letter to a young Malawian doctor. In The World of Work: Imagined Manuals for Real Jobs, editor Ilana Gershon, pp. 10-27. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press; 2015.

Wendland C.  The anthropology of African biomedicine.  In The Medical Anthropology of Global Africa, editors Kathryn Rhine, John M. Janzen, Glenn Adams, and Heather Aldersey, pp. 45-53. University of Kansas Press, #26 in the Monographs in Anthropology Series; 2014.

Taylor J, Wendland C.  The hidden curriculum in medicine’s culture of no culture.  In The Hidden Curriculum and Health Professions Education, editors Joseph O’Donnell and Fred Hafferty, pp. 53-62. Hanover, NH: Dartmouth College Press; 2014.

Wendland published in Advances in Health Sciences Education

Claire Wendland, MD, PhD, Professor and Chair of the UW-Madison Department of Anthropology and professor in the UW Ob-Gyn Division of Reproductive and Population Health, co-authored a new publication in the journal Advances in Health Sciences Education!

In the article “Admitting privileges: a construction ecology perspective on the unintended consequences of medical school admission”, Wendland and co-authors reframe medical school admissions as a social phenomenon with far-reaching, unintended consequences in medicine as a field and beyond:

“Pre-medical hopefuls seek convincing evidence of their unique fitness for the medical profession. The search for experiences that can serve as evidence of this fitness drives them to do things, and the things they do have effects that are not always in keeping with the stated values of medicine or the goal to diversify the profession. Those effects are geographically and socially far-reaching, moving beyond medical schools into would-be applicants’ families and communities, and even into distant countries. They are also fundamentally shaped by the unequal starting points from which applicants begin their journeys toward the applicant pool.”

Read the whole publication here!

Wendland publishes op-ed in Cap Times

Professor Claire Wendland, MD, PhD, Chair of the UW-Madison Department of Anthropology and faculty member in the UW Ob-Gyn Division of Reproductive and Population Health, published an editorial in the Cap Times drawing on her many years of clinical and research experience to share potential consequences of overturning abortion rights.

In “I've seen what happens when abortions are unavailable”, Wendland shares examples of adverse outcomes when abortion access is limited, both in the United States and in other countries. She also outlines the research that tells us this decision could come with a heavy toll on individual and community health:

“The bottom line: People in Wisconsin will die because of this decision. People in the U.S. will die. The deaths won’t be easy to calculate, but years of national and international research leave no doubt about how they will be distributed. Disproportionately they will be poor women, rural people and scared girls. No matter how you feel about the constitutional issues involved, or about the legitimacy of this court, or about the many other recent decisions these nine people have made for us all, or about what’s evidently next on their agenda (contraception, queer rights and marriage equality), it’s worth keeping these stakes in mind.”

Read the whole editorial here.