Skip to main content


Assistant Scientist
Jessica Ott

Departmental Affiliations

Health Systems

Contact Info

Experiences & Accomplishments
Michigan State University
Michigan State University
University of Michigan School of Public Health
Kalamazoo College
I am an anthropologist who relies on qualitative methods to explore how sociocultural and political factors shape health and wellbeing. I am especially interested in exploring how social processes create structural conditions that increase individuals’ vulnerability to forms of interpersonal violence like gender-based violence. I finished my doctoral studies in 2020 and wrote a dissertation on civil society activism related to women’s rights in Zanzibar, Tanzania, and its connections with regional and transnational gender activism. I worked with and learned from an organization of Zanzibari women lawyers and a larger civil society coalition for a year, which strengthened my commitment to understanding and supporting civil society efforts to alter the social structures that normalize and perpetuate gender violence.

At Hopkins, I work on two projects that support the integration of physical rehabilitation into health systems. I have explored how gender and other social and structural factors shape rehabilitation participation and outcomes within health systems and am engaged in qualitative research on technological innovations to improve rehabilitation service provision. I have additional interests and experience related to HIV, caregiving, child protection, and how workplace cultures shape worker health and wellbeing.
Honors & Awards
Michigan State University Center for Gender in Global Context Rita Gallin Graduate Paper Award, 2018
Fulbright-Hays Doctoral Dissertation Research Abroad Fellowship, 2016
Select Publications
My most recent publications are based on ethnographic Fulbright-supported dissertation research in Zanzibar, Tanzania, where I observed the work of a women's rights civil society organization for a year between 2017-2018. These and other pending publications explore women's reliance on diverse strategies and frameworks for negotiating gender justice.
  • Ott, Jessica. 2022. “Umoja: A Swahili Feminist Ethic for Negotiating Justice in Zanzibar.” Feminist Anthropology.
  • Ott, Jessica. 2021. “Anything That Departs from Justice to Injustice Is Not Part of the Shari’a": Women’s Rights Activism and Islamic Legal Reform in Zanzibar.” In African Women and Their Networks of Support: Intervening Connections, edited by Elene Cloete, Martha Ndakalako-Bannikov, and Mariah C. Stember, 43–66. Lanham: Lexington Books.