Janelle Taylor

AP 340


Fields of Study

Areas of Interest

Research Keywords: medical anthropology; ethnography; biomedicine; care; dementia; aging; medical education; narrative; mixed-methods health research

Research Region: U.S., North America


I am a medical anthropologist, trained as an ethnographer, and I research social and cultural dimensions of medicine and care in North America.  I am fascinated with how ideas, words and images have force in the world, how “persons” are socially made and unmade, and how medicine and health care are involved in all of this. I have worked with interdisciplinary health research teams, and published in journals of medicine and gerontology as well as medical anthropology and cultural anthropology.Topics that my research has addressed include: fetal ultrasound imaging, advance care planning and medical decision-making at the end of life, conceptualizations of “culture” within medical education, the use of “Standardized Patient” simulations to teach clinical skills to medical students, and more. Recently, most of my research has focused on dementia and caregiving, and I am working on a book on this topic.


Ph.D. (University of Chicago, 1999)


Selected Publications

2024. Taylor, Janelle. "How's Your Mom?" Story adapted from 2008 Medical Anthropology Quarterly article, for the NPR radio show and podcast This American Life. Included in Episode #823, "The Question Trap." February 2.

2024. Taylor, Janelle S. “The Estranged Case of Leonard: Aging with Dementia when Kin Don’t Care.” In Difficult Attachments: Anxieties of Kinship and Care, ed. Kathryn E. Goldfarb and Sandra Bamford. New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press.

2023. Butler, Catherine R., Aaron Wightman, Janelle S. Taylor, John L. Hick, Ann M. O'Hare. "Experiences of US Clinicians Contending With Health Care Resource Scarcity During the COVID-19 Pandemic, December 2020 to December 2021." JAMA Network Open 6(6): e2318810.

2023. Shapiro, Lily, Marlaine S. Figueroa Gray, Callie J. Freitag, Priyanka Taneja, Hitomi Kariya, Paul K. Crane, Ann M. O’Hare, Elizabeth K. Vig and Janelle S. Taylor. “Expanding the Ethnographic Toolkit: Using Medical Documents to Include Kinless Older Adults Living with Dementia in Qualitative Research.’ Journal of Aging Studies. 65. 11 pages. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jaging.2023.101140 

2023. Taylor, Janelle S., Claire L. Wendland, Kulamakan (Mahan) Kulasegaram, Frederic W. Hafferty. “Admitting privileges: A construction ecology perspective on the unintended consequences of medical school admissions.” Advances in Health Sciences Education.

2023. Taylor, Janelle S. and Ann M. O'Hare. "Machine-Made Time: Dialysis and the Complexities of Waiting and Planning." In Adeline Masquelier and Deborah Durham, eds., In the Meantime: Toward an Anthropology of the Possible. New York and Oxford: Berghahn Books.

2023. Taylor, Janelle S., Marlaine S. Figueroa Gray, Corinne M. Mar, Paul K. Crane, Hitomi Kariya, Callie J. Freitag, Priyanka Taneja, Arvind Ramaprasan, Bettina Shell Duncan, Ann M. O’Hare, Elizabeth K. Vig, Stephanie G.B. Wheeler, Manu Thakral, Rene J. Hawkes, and Eric B. Larson. “Kinless Older Adults with Dementia: Qualitative Analysis of Data from the Adult Changes in Thought (ACT) Study.” Journals of Gerontology Series B: Psychological Sciences and Social Sciences 

2022. Taylor, Janelle S. “Aging and Caring amid Words, Stories, and Texts.” In Critical Humanities and Ageing: Forging Interdisciplinary Dialogues, ed. Kate de Medeiros, Marlene Goldman, and Thomas Cole. New York: Routledge.

2022. O’Hare, Ann M., Elizabeth K. Vig, Theodore J. Iwashyna, Alexandra Fox, Janelle S. Taylor, Elizabeth M. Viglianti, Catherine R. Butler, Kelly C. Vranas, Mark Helfand, Anaïs Tuepker, Shannon M. Nugent, Kara A. Winchell, Ryan J. Laundry, C. Barrett Bowling, Denise M. Hynes, Matthew L. Maciejewski, Amy S. B. Bohnert, Emily R. Locke, Edward J. Boyko, George N. Ioannou for the VA Covid Observational Research Collaboratory (CORC). “Complexity and Challenges of the Clinical Diagnosis and Management of Long COVID.” JAMA Network Open 5(11):e2240332. 

2022. O’Hare, Ann M., Catherine R. Butler, Ryan J. Laundry, Whitney Showalter, Jeffrey Todd-Stenberg, Pam Green, Paul L. Hebert, Virginia Wang, Janelle S. Taylor, Marieke van Eijk, Kameron L. Matthews, Susan T. Crowley, Evan Carey. “Implications of Cross-System Use among U.S. Veterans with Kidney Disease in the Era of the MISSION Act: A Qualitative Study of Health Care Records.” JAMA Internal Medicine

2022. Taylor, Janelle S. My Museum of Antique Technology.” In “Taking Note: Complexities and Ambiguities in Writing Ethnographic Fieldnotes,” Magdalena Zegarra and Veronica Sousa, editors, American Ethnologist website, 26 August. 

2021. Harris, Anna, and Janelle S. Taylor. "Writing Life: An Interview with Janelle Taylor." Somatosphere. 

2020. Taylor, Janelle S. Afterword: Time, Futurity and Aging amid a Pandemic.” Anthropology & Aging 41(2):90-92. 

2020. Butler, Catherine R., Aaron Wightman, Claire Richards, Ryan S. Laundry, Janelle S. Taylor, Paul L. Hebert, Chuan-Fen Liu, Ann M. O’Hare. “Thematic Analysis of the Health Records of a National Sample of Veterans with Advanced Kidney Disease Evaluated for Transplant.” JAMA Internal Medicine 181(2):212-219. 

2020. Taylor, Janelle S. “Tender Idea.” In “Post-Covid Fantasies,” Catherine Besteman, Heath Cabot, and Barak Kalir, editors, American Ethnologist website, 25 August 2020. 

2020. Butler, Catherine R., Janelle S. Taylor, Peter P. Reese, Ann M. O’Hare. “Thematic Analysis of the Medical Records of Patients Who Were Evaluated for Transplant but Did Not Receive a Kidney.” BMC Nephrology 21(300) 

2020. O’Hare, Ann M., Catherine R. Butler, Janelle S. Taylor, Susan P.Y. Wong, Ryan S. Laundry, Melissa W. Wachterman, Elizabeth K. Vig, Paul L. Hebert, Chuan-Fen Liu, Nilka Rios-Burrows, Claire A. Richards. “Thematic Analysis of Hospice Mentions in the Health Records of Patients with Advanced Kidney Disease.” Journal of the American Society of Nephrology.

2020. Wong, Susan P.Y., Saritha Boyapati, Ruth Engelberg, Janelle S. Taylor, Bjorg Thorsteindottir, Ann M. O’Hare. “Experiences of U.S. Nephrologists in the Delivery of Conservative Care to Patients with Advanced Kidney Disease: A National Qualitative Study.” American Journal of Kidney Disease 75(2):167-176. 

2020. “Friendship, Citizenship, and Abandonment: Older Adults with Dementia without Family Caregivers.” In The Evening of Life: Responding to the Challenges of Living and Dying Well, ed. Joseph E. Davis and Paul Scherz. University of Notre Dame Press.

2019. O’Hare, Ann M. Manjula Kurella Tamura, Danielle Lavallee, Elizabeth K. Vig,  Janelle S. Taylor, Yoshio Hall, Ronit Katz, J. Randall Curtis, Ruth Engelberg. “Prognostic Expectations of People on Dialysis.” JAMA Internal Medicine. Published online first, July 8. doi:10.1001/jamainternmed.2019.2879

2019. “Word Shell,” contribution to the series “Thinking With Dementia,” ed. Jeannette Pols, Kristine Krause, Annelieke Driessen, and Emily Yates-Doerr. 

2018.  O’Hare, Ann M., Claire Richards, Jackie Szarka, Lynne V. McFarland, Whitney Showalter, Elizabeth K. Vig, Rebecca Sudore, Susan Crowley, Ranak Trivedi, Janelle S. Taylor. “‘Emotional Impact of Illness and Care on Patients with Advanced Kidney Disease.” Clinical Journal of the American Society of Nephrology. 13 (7) 1022-1029. 

2018. Taylor, Janelle S. “What the Word ‘Partnership’ Conjoins, and What It Does.” Medicine Anthropology Theory 5(2):1-6. Special issue on “Humanistic Perspectives on Global Health Partnerships,” ed. Johanna Crane, Nora Kenworthy, and Lynn Thomas. 

2017. Taylor, Janelle S. “Engaging with Dementia: Moral Experiments in Art and Friendship.” Culture, Medicine and Psychiatry 41(2):284-303. 

2017. O’Hare, Ann M., Jackie Szarka, Lynne V. McFarland, Elizabeth K. Vig, Rebecca L. Sudore, Susan Crowley, Lynn F. Reinke, Ranak Trivedi, and Janelle S. Taylor. “‘Maybe They Don’t Even Know That I Exist’: Challenges Faced by Family Members and Friends of Patients with Advanced Kidney Disease.” Clinical Journal of the American Society for Nephrology 12: 930938. 

2017.  Taylor, Janelle S. “Should Old Acquaintance Be Forgot? Friendship in the Face of Dementia,” in Sarah Lamb, ed., Successful Aging as a Contemporary Obsession: Global Perspectives. New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press, pp. 126-138.

2017. Taylor, Janelle S. “How Being Friends with Someone with Dementia Can Be Good for You Both,” The Conversation, July 6. (republished in numerous venues, including Scientific American and The Observer).

2016. O’Hare, Ann M., Jackie Szarka, Lynne V. McFarland, Janelle S. Taylor, Elizabeth K. Vig, Whitney Showalter, Ranak B. Trivedi, Rebecca Sudore, and Lynn F. Reinke. “Provider Perspectives on Advance Care Planning for Patients with Kidney Disease: Whose Job is it Anyway?” Clinical Journal of the American Society of Nephrology 11(5):855-866

2016. Wong, Susan P.Y., Elizabeth K. Vig, Janelle S. Taylor, Nilka R. Burrows, Chuan-Fen Liu, Desmond E. Williams, Paul L. Hebert, and Ann M. O’Hare. “Timing of Initiation of Maintenance Dialysis: A Qualitative Analysis of the Electronic Medical Records of Patients from the Department of Veterans Affairs.” JAMA Internal Medicine 176(2):228-235. 

2015. Martimianakis, Maria Athina (Tina), Barret Michalec, Justin Lam, Carrie Cartmill, Janelle S. Taylor, Frederic W. Hafferty. “Humanism, the Hidden Curriculum, and Educational Reform: A Scoping Review and Thematic Analysis.” Academic Medicine 90(11):S5-S13“Research in Medical Education” (RIME). 

2014. Taylor, Janelle S., Claire Wendland. “The Hidden Curriculum in Medicine’s ‘Culture of No Culture’,” In The Hidden Curriculum in Health Professional Education, ed. Frederic W. Hafferty and Joseph O’Donnell. Dartmouth College Press.

2014. Taylor, Janelle S. “The Demise of the Bumbler and the Crock: From Experience to Accountability in Medical Education and Ethnography.” American Anthropologist 116(3):523-534.

2012. Taylor, Janelle S., Shaune M. DeMers, Elizabeth K. Vig and Soo Borson. “The Disappearing Subject: Exclusion of People with Cognitive Impairment and Dementia from Geriatrics Research,” Journal of the American Geriatrics Society 60:413-419.

2011.  Taylor, Janelle S. “Beyond Words: Traces of Meaning in an Abandoned Kitchen.” Anthropology Now 3(2):62-64.

2011. Taylor, Janelle S.  “The Moral Aesthetics of Simulated Suffering in Standardized Patient Performances.” Culture, Medicine and Psychiatry 35(2): 134-162.  Special Issue, “Ethnographies of Clinical Training,” ed. Seth M. Holmes, Scott Stonington and Angela Jenks.

2010. Taylor, Janelle S. “On Recognition, Caring, and Dementia.” In Care In Practice: On Tinkering in Clinics, Homes, and Farms, ed. Annemarie Mol, Jeanette Pols and Ingunn Moser. Bielefeld, Germany: Transcript Verlag.      (Reprinted from Medical Anthropology Quarterly 2008.)

2009. Taylor, Janelle S. “The Body Present / Absent” Light Works Gallery Contact Sheet 150, Ellen Garvens Prosthesis Exhibition Catalog.

2009. Taylor, Janelle S. “The Culture of Medicine,” Association of Faculties of Medicine of Canada (AFMC) Commissioned Report for Environmental Project Scan, The Future of Medical Education in Canada.

2008. Taylor. Janelle S. “On Recognition, Caring, and Dementia.” Medical Anthropology Quarterly 22(4): 313-335. https://anthrosource.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/epdf/10.1111/j.1548-1387.2008.00036.x

2008.  The Public Life of the Fetal Sonogram: Technology, Consumption, and the Politics of Reproduction (New Brunswick: Rutgers University Press)

2006.   Vig, Elizabeth K., Janelle S. Taylor, Helene S. Starks, Elizabeth M. Hopley, Kelly Fryer-Edwards. “Beyond Substituted Judgment: How Surrogates Navigate End-of-Life Decision-making.” Journal of the American Geriatrics Society 54(11):1688-1693.

2005.  Taylor, Janelle S. “Surfacing the Body Interior,” Annual Review of Anthropology, 34:741-756. 

2004.  Taylor, Janelle S., Linda L. Layne, and Danielle F. Wozniak, ed. Consuming Motherhood (New Brunswick: Rutgers University Press)

200. Taylor, Janelle S. “The Story Catches You and You Fall Down: Tragedy, Ethnography, and ‘Cultural Competence’,” Medical Anthropology Quarterly 17(2):159-181.

2003.  Taylor, Janelle S. “Confronting ‘Culture’ in Medicine’s ‘Culture of No Culture’,” Academic Medicine, 78(3):555-559.

2000.  Taylor, Janelle S. “Of Sonograms and Baby Prams: Prenatal Diagnosis, Pregnancy, and Consumption,” Feminist Studies, 26(2):391-418.

1998.   Taylor, Janelle S. “Image of Contradiction: Obstetrical Ultrasound in American Culture,” in Reproducing Reproduction: Kinship, Power, and Technological Innovation, ed. Sarah Franklin, Helena Ragone. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 15-45.

1992.  Taylor, Janelle S. “The Public Fetus and the Family Car: From Abortion Politics to a Volvo Advertisement,” Public Culture 4(2):167-183     (Reprinted 1993 in Science As Culture 3(4):601-618, special issue, “Procreation Stories,” ed. Sarah Franklin and Maureen McNeil.)

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