Mara Buchbinder


Assistant Professor, Social Medicine
Adjunct Assistant Professor, Anthropology

PhD 2010, Anthropology, University of California - Los Angeles
MA 2005, Anthropology, Case Western Reserve University
AB 2002, Psychological & Brain Sciences, Dartmouth College            

Mara Buchbinder, Ph.D. is Assistant Professor of Social Medicine and Adjunct Assistant Professor of Anthropology at UNC – Chapel Hill, as well as core faculty in the UNC Center for Bioethics. Dr. Buchbinder’s research explores the sociocultural and ethical dimensions of clinical encounters in the United States, with a particular focus on the role of language in medicine.  Her recent work is framed by an interest in how laws and policies impinge on intimate clinical relationships in their efforts to govern morally complex healthcare practices at the beginnings and ends of life. She was selected for a Greenwall Faculty Scholars Award (2015-2018), a career development award which enables junior faculty to carry out innovative bioethics research.  

Dr. Buchbinder’s most recent book, All in Your Head: Making Sense of Pediatric Pain (University of California Press, 2015), draws on ethnographic fieldwork in a multidisciplinary pediatric pain clinic to explore how clinicians, adolescent patients, and their families understand and work to alleviate intractable pain. While phenomenological approaches to pain have flourished in recent years, All in Your Head situates pain within an intersubjective context to emphasize the relational, everyday means through which chronic pain is understood and managed. Through careful attention to the language of pain and detailed analysis of how pain sufferers make meaning through interactions with others, the book reveals that however private pain may be, making sense of it is profoundly social.

In her newer projects, Dr. Buchbinder is investigating the sociocultural and ethical impact of new abortion and physician aid-in-dying laws. She is particularly interested in how legislative changes affect clinical communication and the patient-provider relationship. 

Curriculum Vitae

Office: 341A MacNider


Phone: 919.843.6881

Fax: 919.966.7499

Post: Mara Buchbinder / CB #7240, Department of Social Medicine / University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill / Chapel Hill, NC 27599-7240