Lisa M. Mitchell

Lisa M. Mitchell
Associate Professor Emeritus



PhD Case Western Reserve University

Area of expertise

Cultural anthropology, bodies and embodiment, reproduction, ultrasound imaging, children and youth, visual culture, Philippines, Canada

My work is principally concerned with social and cultural aspects of bodies, especially in the context of health and illness, reproduction, infancy and childhood, and poverty.

My work on reproduction in Canada has addressed sonographers’ and women’s experiences of ultrasound imaging, discourses of risk in pregnancy and childbirth, and women's experiences of pregnancy and pregnancy loss.  I’m particularly interested in understanding how visual imaging technology and social media mediates experiences of reproduction, family, and loss.  

Focussing on children and youth’s perceptions of their bodies and practices of health, I’ve conducted research in the Philippines and in Victoria, B.C.  Working with children and their families in an impoverished and environmentally distressed neighbourhood in the Visayan Philippines, Dr. Marjorie Mitchell and I used drawing and photography among other research methods to understand children's perceptions of their bodies, illness, social relationships, and environment.  In Victoria, my research explored how street-involved youth conceptualise and experience their bodies as they navigate the challenges of poverty, inadequate housing, conflicted family relationships, and street life. The final stage of this project included the formation of a youth social action group, More Than One Street, working collaboratively to build understanding of and resources that speak to the complex circumstances that shape and constrain the lives of youth on the street.   


  • Cultural anthropology
  • Health and Illness
  • Bodies and embodiment
  • Reproduction
  • Infants, children and youth
  • Philippines, Canada

Current projects

Getting To Know Baby

“Getting to Know Baby,” is an interview-based qualitative exploration of social meanings of infancy in Victoria, BC. I’m interested in the relationship between infant identity and parental ideas and practices of infant care. This project focusses on a) how infant identity (gender, ethnicity, character) emerge through infant and parental embodied practices; and b) how these practices reproduce and/or resist assumptions about infancy disseminated in parenting advice books and websites.

Unrecognized Pregnancies

This project explores accounts of pregnancies that develop undetected until the last few months of pregnancy or until labour begins. Conventional accounts have assumed women are hiding, or are in denial about, these pregnancies. My research seeks to disrupt those assumptions by attending to cultural myths about reproduction and the social and bodily experiences of individual women. The project draws on multiple sources including media accounts (news, reality TV), clinical literature, and first-person narratives.

Selected publications


  • 2001 - Baby's First Picture: Ultrasound and the Politics of Fetal Subjects. Toronto: University of Toronto Press. Link to this.

Articles and chapters

  • 2020. Selfridge, Marion & Lisa M. Mitchell. Social media as moral laboratory: street involved youth, death and grief.  Journal of Youth Studies.  Pre-Press Online: 28 Mar 2020.

  • 2018 - Thayne Werdal and Lisa M. Mitchell, “Looking out for each other”: Street Involved Youth’s Perspectives on Friendship. Anthropologica. 60: 1-13
  • 2017 - Lisa M. Mitchell and Marion Selfridge. “Because that’s what we do… we sit and we drink and we talk”: Stories and Storytelling among Street Involved Youth. Jeunesse: Young People, Texts, Cultures 9(2): 91-111.
  • 2017 - Roberts, Jen and Lisa M. Mitchell, “It’s Your Body, Your Decision”: An Anthropological Exploration of HPV Vaccine Hesitancy. In, Public Health in the Age of Anxiety. Paul Bramadat, Maryse Guay, Julie Bettinger and Réal Roy, eds. University of Toronto Press.  University of Toronto Press, pp. 293-320.
  • 2016 - Lisa M. Mitchell. Time with Babe: Seeing Fetal Remains after Pregnancy Termination for Impairment. Medical Anthropology Quarterly. Pre-Press Online: 15 Nov 2014. DOI:10.1111/maq.12173
  • 2015 - Macdonald, ME,   K Kennedy, S Moll, C Pineda, L Mitchell, P Stephenson, S Cadell.  Excluding Parental Grief: A Critical Discourse Analysis of Bereavement Accommodation in Canadian Labour Standards. Work: a journal of prevention, assessment and rehabilitation 50:511-526. [Online: 23 Sept 2014 DOI: 10.3233/WOR-141957] 
  • 2014 - Mitchell, Lisa M.  Better Babies, Better Mothers: Infant Sign Language and Intensive Mothering. In, Linda Ennis, ed. Intensive Mothering: The Cultural Contradictions of Modern Motherhood. Bradford, ON: Demeter Press.
  • 2012 - Mitchell, Lisa M., Peter Stephenson, Susan Cadell, and Mary Ellen MacDonald. Death & Grief On-line: virtual memorialization and changing concepts of childhood death and parental bereavement on the Internet. Health Sociology Review 21(4): 413-431.
  • 2011 - Lisa M Mitchell and Marjorie R. Mitchell. Enchanted Worlds: Visayan Children’s Perspectives On Living Among Engkanto. Asia Pacific Journal of Anthropology 12(2):113-128.
  • 2009 - (Rebecca Kukla, Miriam Kupperman, Margaret Little, Anne D. Lyerly, Lisa M. Mitchell, Elizabeth Armstrong, and Lisa Harris) Finding Autonomy in Birth. Bioethics [Special Issue: Reproductive Autonomy] 23(1):1-8.
  • 2008 - (Margaret Little, Anne D. Lyerly, Lisa M. Mitchell, Elizabeth Armstrong, Lisa Harris, Rebecca Kukla, and Miriam Kupperman) Mode of Delivery: Toward Responsible Inclusion of Patient Preferences. Obstetrics & Gynecology 112(4): 913-917.
  • 2007 - (Anne Drapkin Lyerly, Lisa M. Mitchell, Elizabeth Armstrong, Lisa Harris, Rebecca Kukla, Miriam Kupperman, and Margaret Little) Risks, Values, and Decision Making Surrounding Pregnancy. Obstetrics and Gynecology 109(4):979-984.
  • 2006 - Body and Illness: Considering Visayan Filipino Children's Perspectives within Local and Global Relationships of Inequality. Medical Anthropology: Cross-cultural Studies in Health and Illness 25(4): 331-373.
  • 2006 - Child-centered? Thinking Critically about Children's Drawing as a Visual Research Method. Visual Anthropology Review 22(1): 60-73.
  • 2004 - Women's Experiences of Unexpected Ultrasound Findings. Journal of Midwifery and Women's Health 49(3): 228-234.