Date of Award




Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Department of Anthropology

Content Description

1 online resource (vi, 189 pages) : color illustrations, color map.

Dissertation/Thesis Chair

Elise Andaya

Committee Members

Kendra Smith-Howard, Lawrence M Schell


Lyme Disease, New York, Prevention, Risk, Ticks, Lyme disease, Tick-borne diseases, Ixodes scapularis

Subject Categories

Social and Cultural Anthropology


Lyme disease is a bacterial pathogen that spreads from animals to humans through bites from blacklegged ticks (Ixodes scapularis). The disease is a public health problem causing both physical suffering and increased health care spending since the 1980s. A snapshot of Lyme disease coverage in the popular media shows that most people prioritize conversations about Lyme disease diagnosis and treatment over prevention concerns. Anthropology has recently examined peoples’ anxieties and debates regarding the diagnosis and treatment of Lyme disease in the United States. There has been less work within the discipline on Lyme and tick-borne disease risk perceptions. This dissertation is the first anthropological study of regionally specific interpretations of Lyme disease risk. It investigates New York State (NYS), Hudson River corridor residents’ beliefs about blacklegged ticks, the diseases they carry, and the things that people do to prevent their bites. Based on fieldwork conducted over 18 months that included participant observation and open-ended interviews, the author argues people interpret Lyme disease risk through their place-based experiences, meaning the ways they interact and understand themselves (identities) in connection with the socio-regional environment of the Hudson River corridor. In five substantive dissertation chapters, the author elaborates on interlocutor’s shared, regional interpretations of tick-borne disease risk in the NYS Hudson River corridor.