The RWJF Health & Society Scholars program ended February 2017. The site will no longer be updated. More »

Seth Holmes, M.D., Ph.D.

RWJF Health & Society Scholar:

Anthropology, Social Medicine, Medicine, Public Health, Population Health

Area(s) of Expertise:
Medical Anthropology, Cultural Anthropology, Immigration Studies, Social Medicine, Symbolic Violence and Symbolic Power, Embodiment, Race, Governmentality, Gender, Citizenship, Latin America, North America, Urban Anthropology, Rural Anthropology, Food Systems, Labor Studies, Death and Dying


Personal Webpage:


Seth M. Holmes is an anthropologist and physician whose work focuses broadly on the role that perceptions of difference play in the production and reproduction of social hierarchies and health inequalities. He received his Ph.D. in Medical Anthropology from the University of California, Berkeley and San Francisco, and his M.D. from the University of California, San Francisco. He completed his internship and residency in internal medicine at the University of Pennsylvania followed by the Robert Wood Johnson Health & Society Scholars program at Columbia University. After finishing the Health & Society Scholars program, Dr. Holmes has been named the Martin Sisters Endowed Chair and Assistant Professor of Public Health and Medical Anthropology at the University of California Berkeley.  Dr. Holmes finished a book, Fresh Fruit, Broken Bodies: Migrant Farmworkers in the United States (2013), exploring social and suffering hierarchies in U.S.-Mexico migration as well as the ways in which these asymmetries come to be seen as deserved, normal, and natural. Fresh Fruit, Broken Bodies draws on approximately eighteen months of full-time participant-observation, migrating with undocumented indigenous Mexicans in the United States and Mexico followed by several years of ongoing field research. This included picking berries in Washington State, pruning vineyards in California, harvesting corn in the mountains of Oaxaca, accompanying migrant laborers on clinic visits, and trekking across the border desert into Arizona. Dr. Holmes is now conducting ethnographic research into  the subtle processes in clinical training that shape the lenses through which clinical trainees perceive social difference. In addition, Dr. Holmes is initiating ethnographic research in California exploring the social, cultural, and political logics for high HIV death rates of specific classes of people, notably Latino migrant day laborers. He also maintains a clinical work in HIV primary care and palliative care in the California public health system.

Journal Articles:
Click here for a list of Seth Holmes' available publications in PubMed.


  Holmes, Seth. Fresh Fruit, Broken Bodies - Migrant Farmworkers in the United States, With a Foreward by Philippe Bourgois. The University of Californa Press, 2013.