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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Department of Anthropology

There are 658 publications in this collection, published between 1901 and 2023.
Anthropology Faculty Publications (185)

Health system experiences of breast cancer survivors in urban South Africa


Breast cancer is the most common cancer globally and among South African women. Women from socioeconomically disadvantaged South African communities more often present later and receive total mastectomy compared to those from more affluent communities who have more breast conserving surgery (which is less invasive but requires mandatory radiation treatment post-operatively). Standard chemotherapy and total mastectomy treatments are known to cause traumatizing side effects and emotional suffering among South African women; moreover, many women face limited communication with physicians and psychological support.


This article investigates the experiences of women seeking breast cancer treatment at the largest public hospital in South Africa.


We interviewed 50 Black women enrolled in the South African Breast Cancer Study to learn more about their health system experiences with detection, diagnosis, treatment, and follow-up care for breast cancer. Each interview was between 2-3 hours, addressing perceptions, experiences, and concerns associated with breast cancer and comorbidities such as HIV and hypertension.


We found most women feared diagnosis, in part, because of the experience of chemotherapy and physical mutilation related to mastectomy. The importance of social support from family, religion, and clinical staff was fundamental for women coping with their condition and adhering to treatment and medication.


These findings exemplify how interventions might promote early detection of breast cancer and better adherence to treatment. Addressing community perceptions of breast cancer, patient needs and desires for treatment, structural barriers to intensive therapies, and the burden of invasive treatments are imperative next steps for delivering better breast cancer care in Soweto and other resource-constrained settings.

182 more worksshow all
Recent Faculty Publications (1)

Building resilient anthropology collections in a time of disasters

In 2019, Brazil’s Francisca Keller Library of anthropology was lost in a fire, along with its 37,000 books, manuscripts, films, and other unique field records. While the fire was caused in part by years of public underinvestment in building maintenance, the disaster captured the attention of anthropologists globally: how had we not known about the risks to this collection, and what else could we have done?

In this podcast, we bring together practitioners from anthropology libraries, archives, and museums to discuss how climate change and related socio-environmental disasters are likely to affect our collections, and how we might collaborate in order to better preserve our community and disciplinary heritage

Drawing from our experience on the Council for the Preservation of Anthropological Records (CoPAR) and at institutions that collect, curate, and preserve our cultural and scholarly heritage, we discuss threats ranging from a loss of power in delicate archival collections, to war and wildfires, to increased flooding in urban coastal areas, to the defunding of heritage institutions due to politics or other pressing social needs. We discuss how we can better prepare with and support each other across institutional and national boundaries—before the next disaster happens.

  • 1 supplemental audio file
  • 1 supplemental file