Jennifer Hirsch's principal areas of expertise are gender, sexuality, and reproductive health, U.S.-Mexico migration and migrant health, the comparative anthropology of love, and the applications of anthropological theory and methods to public health research and programs. She has published articles in journals such as American Journal of Public Health, Studies in Family Planning, AIDS, and Culture Health and Sexuality. Her books include A Courtship After Marriage: Sexuality and Love in Mexican Transnational Families (University of California Press, 2003), which explores changing ideas and practices of love, sexuality and marriage among Mexicans in the U.S. and in Mexico, and the coauthored The Secret: Love, Marriage and HIV (Vanderbilt University Press, 2009), which analyzes the social organization of extramarital sexual practices in Mexico, Nigeria, Uganda, Vietnam, and Papua-New Guinea and the implications of those practices for married women's HIV risk. Along with Dr. Claude Ann Mellins, Hirsch currently co-directs the Sexual Health Initiative to Foster Transformation (SHIFT), which is a study supported by the Office of the President that examines sexual health and sexual assault among Columbia and Barnard undergraduates.
Co-DirectorColumbia Population Research Center;
Faculty AffiliateInstitute for Research on Women, Gender, and Sexuality
Faculty AffiliateInstitute of Latin American Studies
Board MemberInstitute for the Study of Human Rights
Honors & Awards
Areas of Expertise
Select Global Activities
Love, Marriage and HIV, Mexico: This study is an NIH-funded ethnographic research project exploring the factors that put women at risk for HIV infection. Dr. Hirsch is working collaboratively with investigators from Brown University, University of Toronto, Washington University, and the University of Washington to conduct fieldwork that explores how social, cultural, and economic factors combine to shape married women's HIV risk.
Mexico-US Migration: Reproductive Health and HIV Risk, Mexico: Through a series of ongoing studies in rural Mexico and a field site in the southeastern U.S., including recent support from the Guggenheim Foundation, Dr. Hirsch and colleagues are exploring how migration reshapes gender and sexuality and influences reproductive health.
Columbia-Vietnam Social Science Training and Research (STAR) Partnership, Vietnam: The STAR Partnership, co-led by Jennifer Hirsch and Richard G. Parker, the continuation of a long-term NIH-funded collaborative social science and HIV research capacity building project, now representing a partnership between Columbia University, Hanoi Medical University, and the Vietnam Public Health Association. This partnership builds on earlier work creating a center of excellence for social science research in Vietnam, training Vietnamese researchers in social science approaches to HIV research, and promoting the development of research collaborations between scholars at Columbia and in Vietnam.
Hirsch, Jennifer S. 2015. Desire Across Borders: Markets, Migration, and Marital HIV Risk in Rural Mexico. Culture, Health and Sexuality Volume 17 (S1):20-33
Hirsch, Jennifer S. Labor migration, externalities and ethics: Theorizing the meso- level determinants of HIV vulnerability. 2014 Social Science and Medicine. 100: 38-45. 10.1016/j.socscimed.2013.10.021. NIHMS #536685
West BS, Hirsch JS, and El-Sadr W. 2012. HIV and H20: Tracing the connections between gender, water and HIV. AIDS and Behavior. DOI 10.1007/s10461-012-0219-9. PMID: 22660934
Hirsch JS, Nathanson CA "Some traditional methods are more modern Than others: rhythm, withdrawal and the changing meanings of gender and sexual intimacy in the Mexican companionate marriage" Culture Health and Sexuality 3(4) 413-28 2001
Hirsch JS "Anthropologists, Migrants, and Health Research: Confronting Cultural Appropriateness" American Arrivals: Anthropology Engages the New Immigration Ed. Foner N SAR Press/Oxford Santa Fe 229-58 2003
Jennifer S. Hirsch and Holly Wardlow Modern Loves: The Anthropology of Romantic Love and Companionate Marriage University of Michigan Press Ann Arbor, MI 2006
Hirsch, Jennifer S., Sergio Meneses, Brenda Thompson, Mirka Negroni, Blanca Pelcastre, and Carlos del Rio. The Inevitability of Infidelity: Sexual Reputation, Social Geographies, and Marital HIV Risk in Rural Mexico. American Journal of Public Health 97(6) 986-96 2007
Jennifer S. Hirsch, Holly Wardlow, Daniel Jordan Smith, Harriet M. Phinney, Shanti Parikh, and Constance A. Nathanson The Secret: Love, Marriage and HIV Vanderbilt University Press Nashville, TN 2010
Hirsch JS A Courtship After Marriage: Sexuality and Love in Mexican Transnational Families University of California Press Berkeley 2003
Hirsch JS, Higgins J, Bentley M, Nathanson C The cultural constructions of sexuality: marital infidelity and STD/HIV risk in a Mexican migrant community American Journal of Public Health 92(8) 1227-37 2002