Gabrielle Robbins, PHD

Postdoctoral Fellow

Dr. Gabrielle Robbins is a historical ethnographer of health, medicine, and environment in Madagascar. She is a postdoctoral fellow in the new Critical Approaches in Science, Technology, and Medicine (CAST-M) track. In 2023, she earned her PhD from MIT’s Program in History, Anthropology, and Science, Technology and Society. She also holds a MS in Science, Technology, and Society from MIT and a BA in Anthropology from Barnard College. 

Gabrielle’s work examines the politics of health and freedom in highland Madagascar amid cascading eco-social crises. Meaningful Compounds, her first book project, examines efforts for “homegrown” therapeutics in several successive periods of disruption on the island, including World War Two, the 1970s-90s socialist period, and the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic. Building on extensive archival and ethnographic research, she frames domestic medicines as substances that reflect long efforts for resource sovereignty as highland communities rejected both global histories of colonial extraction and internal legacies of subjugation. 

Other major research interests include medicine manufacturing and production; Madagascar’s transnational/transoceanic connections; experiences of internal slavery on the island;  worsening extreme weather’s impacts on health; and plants and animals as therapeutic resources in the Indian Ocean region and East Africa.