About Me

Anita Hannig: Author Portraits

Anita Hannig is associate professor of anthropology at Brandeis University, where she teaches classes on medicine, religion, and death and dying. Anita’s work explores the cultural dimensions of medicine, with a particular focus on birth and death. In recent years, Anita has emerged as a leading voice on death literacy in the United States, appearing on podcasts and at community events that tackle Americans’ changing relationship with death.

Her writing has appeared in Cognoscenti, The Conversation, and Undark Magazine, among other publications. Anita has spoken about her work in hospitals, medical schools, churches, art museums, and law schools across the country, and she has been interviewed by The Washington Post, USA TODAY, The Boston Globe, Mashable, Insider, and other outlets.

In 2015, Anita launched a long-term research project on medical aid in dying in the United States. This project asks how assisted dying laws are transforming the ways  Americans die. Anita spent hundreds of hours talking with patients, families, physicians, lawmakers, and activists across the country. As part of her research, she also served as a hospice volunteer and sat in on various court cases and public hearings. Her mission is to move beyond a polarizing national debate on assisted dying by uncovering people’s real-life experiences with these laws. She is currently in the process of finalizing a new book on the subject, The Day I Die: The Untold Story of Assisted Dying in America, the first major work of narrative nonfiction on the topic (out for publication with Sourcebooks on May 3, 2022). She is represented by Mackenzie Brady Watson at Stuart Krichevsky Agency.

Anita earned her BA in Anthropology from Reed College and her MA and PhD in Anthropology from the University of Chicago. She is the recipient of an array of fellowships and grants, including from the Wenner-Gren Foundation and the Mellon Foundation. Her first book, Beyond Surgery: Injury, Healing, and Religion at an Ethiopian Hospital (2017), was awarded the Eileen Basker Memorial Prize from the Society for Medical Anthropology in 2018. That same year, she received the Michael Walzer ’56 Award for Excellence in Teaching from Brandeis University, and in 2019 she was named Hooker Distinguished Visiting Professor at McMaster University in Canada.

In her free time, Anita enjoys aerial arts and making jam. She loves trail running, rock climbing, and backpacking in the great outdoors, pursuits that sporadically bring her in touch with her own mortality.