David Ansari

David Ansari

Lecturer in Sociocultural Anthropology
PhD, University of Chicago
research interests:
  • International Migration and Displacement
  • Mental Health
  • Psychotherapy
  • Health Inequities
  • Social Determinants of Health
  • Therapeutic Apprenticeship
  • Clinical Training

contact info:

mailing address:

  • Washington University
    CB 1114
    One Brookings Drive
    St. Louis MO 63130

David Ansari is a medical and psychological anthropologist with research and teaching interests centered at the intersections of migration and health, trauma and psychotherapy, health services and organizations, and clinical and therapeutic training. David joins the Department of Anthropology from the University of Chicago, where he completed his PhD. David teaches in the Department’s Global Health and Environment track.

David’s book, Therapeutic Apprenticeship: Migration, Belonging, and Mental Health in France, examines generational differences in perceptions regarding multiculturalism and diversity among psychotherapists in France. This project draws on ethnographic fieldwork in mental health services for immigrants and refugees in Paris from late 2014 until 2016, during the height of the refugee crisis in Europe. By attending to apprenticeship, David examines how newer generations of psychotherapists develop embodied caring and clinical skills under the guidance of supervising therapists. Therapeutic Apprenticeship also reveals generational differences between supervisors, many of whom came to France as immigrants, and their apprentices, many of whom were born in France with parents or grandparents who were born abroad. These generational differences represent evolutions in thinking about and enacting inclusivity, both in clinical contexts and beyond.

David’s next research project will examine the health and mental health needs of refugees resettled in the greater Chicago metropolitan area who have experienced displacement due to political conflict and persecution, as well as environmental degradation and climate change.


Ansari, D. 2020. Teaching the social determinants of health during the COVID-19 pandemic. Somatospherehttp://somatosphere.net/2020/teaching-social-determinants-health-covid19.html/

Ansari, D. 2019. Casting and scripting: Visibility, responsibility, and legitimacy in transcultural psychiatry apprenticeships in Paris. Transcultural Psychiatry. https://doi.org/10.1177/1363461519884154

Recent Courses

Anthro 3105: Social Determinants of Health & Migration

How do restrictive immigration policies and policing shape access to primary care? How does documentation status intersect with other experiences of marginalization and other forms of social identification, such as gender and race, to produce unique health risks and outcomes? In this course, we explore how people who migrate—due to force or of their own volition, and in a documented or undocumented manner—may encounter obstacles due to differences in language spoken, insurance coverage, and documentation status, when seeking out primary and mental health services, as well as healthcare for chronic illnesses.

    Anthro 3103: Global Mental Health

    This course examines the history, interventions, and critiques of global mental health. In this course, we explore how diagnosis, distress, and treatment are experienced in different cultural and geographic contexts. Moreover, we consider how biomedical psychiatry complements and conflicts with other forms of healing expertise. We also examine mental health disparities, and critically reflect on the successes and challenges of global mental health interventions.

      Anthro 4100: Life in Crisis

      How is crisis conceptualized and experienced by various actors and stakeholders? How do the responses of governments and international agencies align or conflict with local and indigenous responses to crisis? In what ways do vulnerable populations face a disproportionate burden of crisis, and what does this reveal about the social contrasts of societies? This course situates the COVID-19 pandemic among other intersecting contemporary crises, such as anti-vaccine movements, the crisis of immigrant detention and deportation, and incarceration.