Jessica Ott

Anthropologist and Research Consultant
Washington, DC

I am an anthropologist and research consultant living in Washington, DC. I finished my Ph.D. in Anthropology at Michigan State University during the spring of 2020.

I am interested in engaging in applied anthropological research to inform global health policy and practice. As a public health practitioner, I have done work on gender-based violence prevention, HIV prevention, maternal and child health, and health systems strengthening. I am committed to supporting the longstanding work of existing civil society organizations and feminist networks to address issues like gender inequality and gender-based violence.

For my dissertation field research, I explored how women’s rights activists in Zanzibar have relied on historical language and strategies in their contemporary organizing. I focused specifically on their work to address a growing incidence of gender-based violence on the archipelago and on their efforts to reform the Islamic legal system, during which they received support from a transnational network of Muslim women’s rights activists. My dissertation challenges a common anthropological narrative of women's rights as flowing primarily from transnational conferences and conventions to local contexts and sheds light on a transnational women’s network with nodes in East Africa and Southeast Asia.