Cortney Hughes Rinker, PhD

Cortney Hughes Rinker, PhD

Associate Professor, Sociology and Anthropology

Faculty Directory

Research Focus

My interests are in medical anthropology, Islam, aging and end-of-life care, public policy, pain, reproduction, Middle East Studies, science and technology, and applied anthropology.

Current Projects

■ My second book Actively Dying: The Creation of Muslim Identities through End-of-Life Care in the United States (Routledge, 2021) examines the diverse experiences of Muslim patients and families in the Washington, D.C. area as they interact with the health care system during serious illness and end-of-life care. I analyze faith and religious beliefs within the broader context of health economics, politics, social forces, and health care policy. In the book, I use “actively dying” as a theoretical concept to frame the dying body as a main site through which religiosity and religious identities are formed, changed, or contested. Instead of starting from the premise that identities and beliefs are created when living I use the deteriorating and even dead body as the basis to explore religious beliefs and identities.

■ My next long-term ethnographic project focuses on palliative care and pain management during serious illness and end-of-life care in Morocco. Through ethnographic research I explore how physical pain and suffering intersect with beliefs about mortality and sin as well as a sense of self and personhood. A core component of the research is analyzing the use of pain medication (particularly opioids) within the political and economic contexts of Morocco and investigating the politicization of palliative care in the country. I examine how the state and bureaucracy impact the ways people suffer an experience illness and death.

Select Publications

■ Hughes Rinker, C., et al. (2019). Islam, Medicine, and Practice: The Manifestation of Islamic Moral Values in Everyday Aspects of the U.S. Health Care System. Treating the Body in Medicine and Religion: Jewish, Christian, and Islamic Perspectives eds. Fitzgerald J. and Moyse, A. New York: Routledge.

■ Hughes Rinker, C. (2018). Anthropology and Cultural Competence: Delivering Religiously Appropriate Care at the End-of-Life for Muslim Patients, The Unbearable Humanities. Proceedings of the 2017 Virginia Humanities Conference 96-113.

■ Hughes Rinker, C. (2015). Creating neoliberal citizens in Morocco: reproductive health, development policy, and popular islamic beliefs. Medical Anthropology, 34(3): 226-242.



Phone: 703-993-1441