Holly Wardlow

AP 270
(416) 978-2199


Fields of Study

Areas of Interest

Research Keywords: Medical anthropology, feminist anthropology, global health, ethnography, gender, agency, love and marriage, HIV/AIDS, violence

Research Region: Papua New Guinea


Holly Wardlow is a Full Professor in the Department of Anthropology. She is interested in issues that emerge at the intersection of power, gender, agency, the body, and health. Her early research focused on “passenger women” in Papua New Guinea, women who exchange sex for money, and are stigmatized by others for their transgressive behaviors, but do not fit the assumptions many people might bring to the category of “sex work.” She analyzed passenger women’s sexual transactions as expressions of “negative agency,” a mode of action that entails the refusal to cooperate with, or be interpellated by, others’ plans and expectations. In response to unavenged violence towards themselves or beloved female kin, passenger women were often trying to punish and shame their families by refusing to marry or abandoning existing marriages.

Professor Wardlow’s most recent research investigates HIV/AIDS in Papua New Guinea, particularly its gendered dimensions and consequences. Based on research spanning 10 years, she analyzes women’s encounters with HIV as pathogen, site of family and governmental discipline, and affective and moral experience. She examines important sources of HIV vulnerability for women, such as proximity to gold and oil extraction sites, as well as their strategies for managing others’ anxieties and suspicions about them after they have been diagnosed HIV-positive.



2020   Fencing in AIDS: Gender, Vulnerability, and Care in Papua New Guinea. University of California Press.

2010   The Secret: Love, Marriage, and HIV. Jennifer Hirsch, Holly Wardlow, Daniel Smith, Shanti Parikh, Harriet Phinney, and Constance Nathanson. Nashville: Vanderbilt University Press.

2006   Wayward Women: Sexuality and Agency in a New Guinea Society. Berkeley: University of California Press

2006   Modern Loves: The Anthropology of Romantic Courtship and Companionate Marriage. Jennifer S. Hirsch and Holly Wardlow (eds.) Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press.

Articles & Chapters

2021   "'I Am a Dead Woman': Embodying and resisting dependency among women living with HIV in Papua New Guinea." Focaal: Journal of Global and Historical Anthropology 90 (2021).

2019   “With AIDS I am Happier than I Have Ever Been Before.” The Australian Journal of Anthropology 30(1): 53 – 67. Part of Special Issue: Good Life in Dark Times?: Melanesian Interventions in Dark Anthropology/Anthropology of the Good.

2018   HIV, Phone Friends, and Affective Technology in Papua New Guinea. In, R. Foster and H. Horst (eds.), The Moral Economy of Mobile Phones in the Pacific, pp. 39 – 52. Canberra: Australian National University Press.

2017   The (Extra)ordinary Ethics of Being HIV-positive in Rural Papua New Guinea. Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute 23(1): 103 – 119.

2014   Paradoxical Intimacies: the Christian Creation of the Huli Domestic Sphere. In Hyaeweol Choi and Margaret Jolly (eds.), Divine Domesticities: Christian Paradoxes in Asia and the Pacific, pp. 325-344. Canberra: Australian National University Press.

2007   Men’s Extramarital Sexuality in Rural Papua New Guinea. American Journal of Public Health 97(6): 1006-1014.

Graduate Students

Administrative Service

Department Chair, St. George Campus