Philippe Bourgois


Philippe Bourgois


Office: B7-435 Semel


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Philippe is currently co-authoring “Cornered” (on contract with Princeton University Press) analyzing the carceral and psychiatric management of US urban poverty and segregation. We are building a theory of the “US inner-city health risk environment” working with the concepts of “structural vulnerability” and “primitive accumulation”. The book draws on a half dozen years of team-based participant-observation fieldwork (with Laurie Hart, George Karandinos and Fernando Montero) in the open air narcotics markets dominating Philadelphia’s deindustrialized inner-city heartland–the poorest section of  its hyper-segregated Puerto Rican “ghetto”.

He is also leading the ethnographic component of the Center for Social Medicine’s new initiative documenting the interface between mental illness, poverty, incarceration, homelessness and racism in Los Angeles. We are developing a multi-methods collaborative team project with academics, service providers and community-based organizations and stake-holders that integrates quantitative, clinical, psychoanalytic and qualitative methods. Our goal is to bring critical theoretical insights from the social sciences and humanities to bear practically on the urgent challenges of mental illness, social inequality, and racialized segregation in our city.

Philippe was Professor and Chair of Anthropology at San Francisco State University in the 1990s and went on to found the Department of Social Medicine at UCSF from 1998 to 2005. He moved to the University of Pennsylvania as the Richard Perry University Professor of Anthropology and Community Medicine. He started the formal MSTP MD/PhD tracks in Anthropology at both UCSF and the University of Pennsylvania. Philippe is currently working with Joel Braslow, the Director of UCLA’s MSTP track in the Social Sciences and the Coordinator of the Social Medicine and Humanities initiative in the David Geffen School of Medicine, to grow our increasingly vibrant intellectual community of Clinician-Social Scientists on campus. We are in the early stages of building an exciting consortium with the Social Science tracks of the MD/PhD programs at other UC campuses which we hope to eventually extend to other institutions across the country.

His fieldwork began in Central America in 1979 (Nicaragua, El Salvador, Costa Rica and Panama) documenting the revolutionary movements and political repression of the early to mid 1980s. Since 1985 his primary fieldwork has been in the US inner city (East Harlem crack sellers 1985-1981, San Francisco homeless injectors 1995-2007, Puerto Rican North Philadelphia heroin sellers 2007-2015 and Los Angeles indigent mental illness). He has been the Principal or Co-Investigator on dozens of National Institutes of Health grants since 1996.


Philippe is the author of several books and edited volumes, including the multiple award winning In Search of Respect: Selling Crack in El Barrio (Cambridge, 1995), Righteous Dopefiend (co-authored with Jeff Schonberg, University of California, 2009), Ethnicity at Work: Divided Labor on a Central American Banana Plantation (Johns Hopkins, 1989), Violence in War and Peace (Co-edited with Nancy Scheper-Hughes, Blackwell 2004), and Violence at the Urban Margins (Co-edited with Javier Auyero and Nancy Scheper-Hughes, Oxford 2015).  He has published over 150 articles in medical anthropology, public health, and the humanities.

To download PDFs of publications, go to:

Most recent:

1. Philippe Bourgois, Seth Holmes, Kim Sue, and James Quesada. 2017. “Structural Vulnerability: Operationalizing the Concept to Address Health Disparities in Clinical Care.” Academic Medicine 92:3:299-307.

2. Ciccarone D, Bourgois P. 2016. “HIV, cocaine and collinearity in the Downtown Eastside, Vancouver, Canada .” International Journal of Drug Policy. 33:36-43.

3. Mars S, Bourgois P, Karandinos G, Montero F, Ciccarone D. 2016. “The Textures of Heroin: Users Perspectives…” Journal of Psychoactive Drugs. In Press.

4. Auyero, J, Bourgois P, Scheper-Hughes N. Editors. 2015. Violence at the Urban Margins. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

5. Bourgois P 2015. “Insecurity, the War on Drugs, and Crimes of the State: Symbolic Violence in the Americas.” In: Violence at the Urban Margins. Editors, Auyero, J, Bourgois P, Scheper-Hughes N eds. Pp. 305-321. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

6. Mars SG, Fessel J, Bourgois P, Montero F, Karandinos G, Ciccarone D. 2015. “Heroin-related overdose” Social Science and Medicine. 140:44-53.

Selected books:

1. Bourgois P and Jeff Schonberg. 2009. Righteous Dopefiend. Berkeley: University of California Press. (Series: Public Anthropology.)

2. Scheper-Hughes N and Bourgois P eds. 2004. Violence in War and Peace: An Anthology. Oxford: Blackwell Publishing.

3. Bourgois P. 1995. In Search of Respect: Selling Crack in El Barrio. New York: Cambridge University Press.  (Second Edition 2003)

4. Bourgois P. 1989. Ethnicity at Work: Divided Labor on a Central American Banana Plantation. Baltimore and London: Johns Hopkins University Press. (Series, “Studies in Atlantic History and Culture”)

Selected articles:

1. Hansen H, Bourgois P, Drucker E. 2014.”Pathologizing Poverty: New Forms of Diagnosis, Disability, and Structural Stigma under Welfare Reform.” Social Science and Medicine. 103: 76–83.

2. Karandinos G, Hart L, Montero Castrillo F, Bourgois P. 2014. “Moral Economy of Violence in the US Inner City.” Current Anthropology 55(1): 1–22.

3. Bourgois P, Montero F, Hart L, Karandinos G. 2013. “Habitus furibundo en el gueto estadounidense.” Espacio Abierto [Venezuela], 22:2:201-213.

4. Bourgois P. 2011. “Lumpen Abuse: The Human Cost of Righteous Neoliberalism.”  City and Society 23:1:2-12.

5. Bourgois P. 2010. “Recognizing Invisible Violence: A Thirty-Year Ethnographic Retrospective.” Barbara Rylko-Bauer, Linda Whiteford, and Paul Farmer, eds. Global Health in Times of Violence. Santa Fe, NM: School for Advanced Research Press. Pp. 17-40.

6. Bourgois P, Martinez A, Kral A, Edlin B, Schonberg J, Ciccarone D. 2006. “Reinterpreting Ethnic Patterns among White and African American Men who Inject Heroin: A Social Science of Medicine Approach.” Public Library of Science (PLoS) Medicine. 3:10:1805-1815.

7. Scheper-Hughes N and Bourgois P. 2004. “Introduction: Making Sense of Violence.” In Violence in War and Peace: An Anthology. Scheper-Hughes N and Bourgois P, eds. Pp. 1-27. Oxford: Blackwell Publishing.

8. Bourgois P. 2002. “Understanding Inner City Poverty: Resistance and Self-Destruction Under U.S. Apartheid.” In Exotic No More: Anthropology on the Front Lines, Jeremy MacClancy, ed. Pp. 15-32. Chicago, Il: University of Chicago Press.

9. Bourgois P. 2000. “Disciplining Addictions:  The Bio-Politics of Methadone and Heroin in the United States.”  Culture, Medicine, and Psychiatry 24:2: 165-195.

10. Bourgois P. 1998. “Just Another Night in a Shooting Gallery.” Theory, Culture and Society 15:2:37-66.

11. Bourgois P. 1998. “The Moral Economies of Homeless Heroin Addicts:  Confronting Ethnography, HIV Risk and Everyday Violence in San Francisco Shooting Encampments.” Substance Use and Misuse 33:11:2323-2351.

12. Bourgois P. 1986. “The Miskitu of Nicaragua: Politicized Ethnicity.” Anthropology Today 2:2:49.

Personal favorites:

1. Bourgois P. 2005. “Missing the Holocaust:  My Father’s Account of Auschwitz from August 1943 to June 1944.” Anthropological Quarterly 78:1:89-123.

2. Ciccarone D and Bourgois P. 2003. “Explaining the Geographic Variation of HIV among Injection Drug Users in the United States.”  Substance Use and Misuse 38:14:2049-2063.

3. Bourgois P. 1990. “Confronting Anthropological Ethics: Lessons From Central America.” International Journal of Peace Research 27:1:4354.

4. Bourgois P. 1982. “Running for my Life in El Salvador: An American Caught in a Government Attack that Chiefly Killed Civilians.”  The Washington Post February 14. pp. C1, C5.

5. Bourgois P and Grünberg G. 1981.  “La Mosquitia y la Revolución: informe de una investigación rural en la Costa Atlántica norte.”  In La Mosquitia en la Revolución. Pp. 89-149. Managua: Centro de Investigaciones y Estudios de la Reforma Agraria (CIERA).