Picture of Pamela Downe

Pamela Downe B.Sc., M.A., Ph.D.

Interim Vice-Dean Faculty Relations and Professor

Faculty Member in College Office
Faculty Member in Anthropology

Archaeology 224

Research Area(s)

  • Syndemics, epidemics, and pandemics
  • HIV/AIDS community-based research
  • Maternal health and kinship
  • Policy analysis
  • Gender, health, and chronic pain
  • pathography
  • infectious disease

About me

Dr. Pamela Downe is a medical anthropologist with expertise in community-based engagement, infectious disease research as well as maternal health research. She has served as President of the Canadian Anthropology Society (CASCA), Co-Chair of the American Anthropological Association's joint conference with CASCA, 2019, and Vice-Chair of University Council. 


HIV/AIDS cultural safety epidemics health infectious disease motherhood pandemics violence

Selected Publications 


Downe, P. (In Progress). Pandemics: Anthropological Insights. Under contract with University of Toronto Press. 

Downe, P. J. (2021). Collective care: Indigenous motherhood, family, and HIV/AIDS. Toronto: University of Toronto Press. https://utorontopress.com/ca/collective-care-2   

Downe, P. & Dravland, R. (Eds.). (2015). AIDS Saskatoon: A Time-Line of Work and Collection Essays on Context, Contributions, and Commitment. Saskatoon: AnthroInSite. (ISBN: 978-0-9920807-2-3)

Biggs C. L., Gingell, S. and Downe P.J. (Eds.)  (2011). Gendered intersections: An Introduction to Women's and Gender Studies, 2nd Edition.  Halifax: Fernwood Press.

Biggs, C. L.., and Downe, P.J. (Eds.) (2011) Gendered intersections: An Introduction to Women's and Gender Studies, 2nd Edition.  Halifax: Fernwood Press.

Downe, P.J. (1994). Picadura de la mosca chiclera: El studio de leishmaniasis en Campeche, Mexico. Merida, Mexico: Instituto de Antropologia E Historia, Universidad De Yucatan.

Edited Journal Issues
Abonyi, Sylvia and Downe, Pamela J. (2020). Health-related anthropology. Engaged Scholar Journal: Community-Engaged Research, Teaching and Learning, 6(1).

Whitaker, R. and Downe, P.J. (2011) Feminism and Anthropology. Anthropology in Action, 18(1).

Helleiner, J., Caputo, V.,  and Downe P.J. (2001).  Anthropology, feminism and childhood studies.  Anthropologica, 63(2)

Selected Peer-Rviewed Journal Articles 
Downe, Pamela J. (2020). "The hospital is haunted": Maternal health, pandemics, and collective care among Indigenous women affected by HIV/AIDS. Medical Anthropology Quarterly, 34:https://medanthroquarterly.org/rapid-response/2020/08/the-hospital-is-haunted-maternal-health-pandemics-and-collective-care/  

Tupper, S., Nilson, J. Downe, PJ., Hodgson, N., Scholsser, T. & Brose, K. (2020)Development and clinical feasibility testing of the Pain Treatment Planning Questionnaire (PTPQ). Journal of Haemophilia Practice, 7(1): 12-24.

Abonyi, Sylvia. & Downe, Pamela J. (2020). Community engagement and health-related anthropology. Engaged Scholar Journal: Community-Engaged Research, Teaching and Learning, 6(1): i-vi.

Bayly, M. & Downe, Pamela J. (2018). "Most people would tell me that I was crazy": Defending against deviance ascribed to alternative birth choices. Journal f the Motherhood Institute for Research and Community Involvement, 9(2), 25-44.   

Brittain, D.R., Gyursik, N.C., Tupper, S.M., & Downe, Pamela J. (2018). Moving forward with physical activity: Self-management of chronic pain among women. Women's Health Issues, 28(2), 113-116. 

Downe, Pamela J. (2018). "I don't want nobody to take me away": Children, caregiving, and the threat of child separation in Saskatchewan. Neos: Anthropology of Children and Youth, 10(2), 17-18

Downe, Pamela J., Scharbach, J. & Waldram, J. (2018). Experienes of a disaster and "maternal risk" amidst forest fire evacuation in northern Saskatchewan. Journal of Mother Studies, 3 https://jourms.wordpress.com/experiences-of-disaster-and-maternal-risk-amidst-forest-fire-evacuation-in-northern-saskatchewan/ 

Babineau, C., McMullen, M. & Downe, Pamela J. (2017). Negotiating what constitutes depression: Focus group conversations in response to viewing direct-to-consumer advertisements for antidepressants. Canadian Journal of Communication, 42(5), 725-43. 

Hatala, A., Erickson, L., Isbister-Bear, O., Bird-Naytowhow, K., Pearl, T., Wahpaiw, O., Engler-Springer, R., & Downe, Pamela J. (2017). The inter-personal skills of community-engaged scholarship. Journal of Engaged and Community Scholarship, 10(1), 44-58. 

Williamson, Linzi, Lawson, Karen, Downe, Pamela, & Pierson, Roger. (2014). Informed reproductive decision-making: The impact of providing fertility information on fertility knowledge and intentions to delay childbearing. Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology Canada 36(5), 400-405. 

Whitaker, R. and Downe, P.J. (2011). Feminist anthropology confronts disengagement. Anthropology in Action, 18(1), 2-5. 

Downe, P.J. (2011). Feminist anthropology anew: Motherhood and HIV/AIDS as sites of action.  Anthropology in Action, 18(1), 6-16.

Healy, P. F., Rodens, V. and Downe, P.J. (2008). Ancient Maya sound artifacts of Pacbitun, Belize.  Musikarchäologie, 6, 84-89. 

Downe, P.J. (2007a). Memorializing and moralizing young motherhood in Barbados.  Journal of the Association for Research on Mothering, 9(1), 138-150. 

Downe, P.J. (2007b).  Strategic stories and reflexive interruptions: Narratives of a 'safe home' amidst cross-border sex work.  Qualitative Inquiry, 13(4), 554-572.

Selected Chapters in Books 

Downe, Pamela J. (2017). "Bad mothers" in the HIV epidemic in Canada. In M. Hughes Miller, T. Hager, & R. Bromwich (Eds.), "Bad mothers": Representations, regulations, and resistance. (pp. 103-120). Toronto: Demeter Press.

Downe, Pamela J. (2014).  Intersecting sites of violence in the lives of Aboriginal girls in Canada.  In H. Berman & Y. Jiwani (Eds.), Faces of Violence in the Lives of Girls (pp. 25-40).  London: Althouse Press. 

Downe, Pamela  J. (2010).  Mothering in the context of maternal HIV/AIDS. In S. Geissler, L. Loutzenheiser, J. Praud, and L. Streifler (Eds.), Mothering Canada: Interdisciplinary voices (pp. 153-162).  Toronto: Demeter Press.
Downe, Pamela J. (2008a). La violence exerceé tre les jeunes filles autochtones : Le problème, sa face cachée, les sources d’espoir et les interventions possibles. In S. Arcand, D. Damant, S. Gravel, & E. Harper (Eds.), Violences faites aux femmes (pp. 89-108). Québec City : Presses de l’Université du Québec.
Downe, Pamela J. (2008b). Motherhood and maternal care: Cultural perspectives. In Association for Research on Mothering (Ed.), Teaching motherhood: A collection of resources for post-secondary courses on mothering/motherhood (pp. 54-57). Toronto: Association for Research on Motherhood.
Waldram, James B. and Downe, Pamela J. (2006). Ex-Patriots in the ivory tower: The experiences of academic anthropologists in non-anthropology departments. In Julia Harrison & Regna Darnell (Eds.), Historicizing Canadian anthropology (pp. 183-195). Vancouver, BC: University of British Columbia Press.
Downe, Pamela J. (2006). Aboriginal girls in Canada: Living histories of dislocation, exploitation and strength. In Yasmin Jiwani, Claudia Mitchell & Candis Steenbergen (Eds.), Girlhood: Redefining the limits (pp. 1-15). Montreal: Black Rose Books. 
Downe, Pamela J. (2005). Tales of selling sex. In C. Lesley Biggs and Pamela J. Downe (Eds.), Gendered intersections: An introduction to women’s & gender studies (pp. 151-155). Halifax: Fernwood Publishing.
Plewes, C. Tawnye and Downe, Pamela J. (2005). Perils of the past and strong women: Contemporary challenges and promises for the future of Aboriginal women. In C. Lesley Biggs and Pamela J. Downe (Eds.), Gendered intersections: An introduction to women’s & gender studies (pp. 98-102). Halifax: Fernwood Publishing.
Downe, Pamela J. (2003a). “The people we think we are”: The social identities of girls involved in prostitution. In Kelly Gorkoff & Jane Runner (Eds.), Being heard: The experiences of young women in prostitution (pp. 46-68). Halifax: Fernwood.
Downe, Pamela J. (2003b). “I don’t know what the hell it is but it sounds nasty”: Health issues for girls working the streets. In Kelly Gorkoff & Jane Runner (Eds.), Being heard: The experiences of young women in prostitution (pp. 86-101). Halifax: Fernwood.

Artistic Works

Curated Exhibits

Downe, P.J., Logan, Z., Shwetz, K., and York, S. (Curators). (2011). Through a Positive Lens: Picturing Parenthood in the Context of HIV/AIDS.  May 24-28.  SCYAP Gallery Saskatoon.  

Teaching & Supervision

anthropology community cultural competency ethnography gender health history infectious disease pandemics

Teaching Awards

  • Certificate of Advising Excellence, Graduate Students' Association, University of Saskatchewan, 2016
  • University of Saskatchewan Provost’s Teaching Excellence Award (Social Sciences), 2013
  • College of Arts & Science Teaching Excellence Award, 2013
  • USSU Teaching Excellence Award, 2008
  • College of Arts & Science, Teaching Excellence Award, 2000
  • USSU Teaching Excellence Award, 1997  

Undergraduate Courses

  • Anthropology 111.3: One World, Many Peoples - An Introduction to Cultural Anthropology
  • Anthropology 211.3: Cultural Competency
  • Anthropology 310.3: Anthropology of Gender
  • Anthropology 332.3: Anthropology of Infectious Disease Disease


Graduate Courses

  • ANTH 801.3: Anthropological Theory
  • ANTH 804.3: Medical Anthropology
  • INTD 898.3 (01): Interdisciplinary Studies: Gendered Perspectives on Friendship
  • WGSt 898.3(01): Ethnographies of Mexico & Central America: A Focus on Gender
  • WGSt 898.3(02): Gendering Bodies, Minds and Health: A Graduate Seminar
  • WGSt 898.3(03): Advanced Feminist Methodologies
  • WGSt 898.3(04): Feminist Perspectives on Group Dynamics
  • WGSt 898.3 (05):  Gendering Contagion: Advanced Issues
  • WGSt 898.3 (06): Advanced Issues in Addiction


HIV/AIDS community-based research cross-cultural research epidemics ethnography feminism gender health maternal health motherhood pain pandemics pathography policy women

Dr. Downe's current research is funded by  the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) and examines cultural safety and pandemic safety in Saskatchewan. She is partnering with Prairie Harm Reduction and Saskatoon Sexual Health Centre. 

Dr. Downe’s research over the past 25 years has primarily concerned itself with outbreaks of infectious disease and pandemics. She has explored the ways in which illness, injury, and risk are syndemically and discursively connected to cultural ideas of contagion and communicability. Working across six countries – from rural areas in Mexico and northern Guatemala, to urban areas in Costa Rica and El Salvador, to rapidly expanding neighbourhoods in Barbados, to Canadian prairie cities – Dr. Downe has examined:

  • infectious diseases;
  • cultural dimensions of pandemics and pandemic responses;
  • anthropological responses to health emergencies; 
  • the intersections between HIV/AIDS and violence;
  • maternal health in relation to HIV/AIDS and other epidemic and endemic infections;
  • pain and hemophilia;
  • the health repercussions of migrant- and local- sex work;
  • policy- and programmatic- responses to emergent health conditions.
With a strong commitment to engaged anthropology, Dr. Downe’s work is community-based.  She has partnered with three government-run hospitals as well as a total of twenty-six non-profit and non-governmental organizations.
  • 2022 Fellow of the Canadian Anthropology Society
  • 2021 Recipient of the Publicly Engaged Scholarship Teams Award, University of Saskatchewan
  • 2020 Recipient of the Distinguished Scholar/Research Award, College of Arts and Science, University of Saskatchewan
  • 2020 Recipient of the YWCA (Saskatoon) Women of Distinction Award for Research & Technology
  • 2011 Recipient of the Weaver-Tremblay Award of the Canadian Anthropology Society
Dr. Downe has held research grants from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR), the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC), the Status of Women Canada, the National Network for Aboriginal Mental Health, and RESOLVE Saskatchewan.

Education & Training

Ph.D. York University

M.A. University of Calgary

B.Sc. Trent University