Ana Porroche-Escudero: Critical Scholar, Activist, Community Partner

Parroche-EscuderoBreast Cancer Consortium member Ana Porroche Escudero is a promising researcher and scholar-activist who is already doing her part to advance scholarship while building strong and equitable communities. Ana has two Bachelor’s degrees, one in Social Work from The University of Zaragoza, Spain (2001) and one in Social Anthropology from Barcelona University (2003). She received in Master’s degree in Women´s Studies at The University of York in 2006 and a PhD in Anthropology from the University of Sussex in 2012.

BCC founder Gayle Sulik first met Ana (virtually) when she read her winning proposal for a dissertation scholarship award in 2011. Ana’s dissertation, “Political Ethnographic Narratives of Breast Cancer in Spain,” was original, thorough, compelling, evidence-based, and clearly articulated, as was her capacity for continued work on the intersections of medicine and culture. As the chair of the award committee, Gayle was very pleased to write Ana’s letter of commendation. Ana’s dissertation focused on narratives typically excluded from public discourse (such as non-dominant coping strategies, constraining support networks, post-treatment sexuality, and issues of women’s embodiment not limited to body image). Differential access to resources and the production of expert and lay knowledge in the biomedical arena cuts across varied gendered and cultural scenarios. Insights like these have the capacity to improve medical care and social support for Spanish women diagnosed with breast cancer and other illnesses.

Extending her dissertation research, Ana wrote two academic articles on the medicalization of sexuality, which were presented at academic conferences in Salzburg, Vancouver, Sussex and Manchester. Ana was one of seven expert panelists invited to the Spanish Network of Female Health Professionals’ annual meeting in Barcelona (2012), where she co-presented a paper on empowerment and body mapping as a methodological tool for health practitioners. The collection was to be published as a book by the Spanish Women’s Institute, but this was cancelled due to lack of funding. Ever persistent, Ana and her coauthor submitted the piece to scholarly journals for publication. Ana also published an article in Clepsidra, a Journal of Gender Studies and Feminist Theory and is currently working on an article, “Empowerment: the holy grail of breast cancer awareness campaigns.”

Ana’s efforts to bridge academic and other communities transnationally are commendable. Well known on her university campus for her passion for health justice and lively interactive seminars, Ana has taught six courses on health, gender and development multiple times at Sussex since 2009, and convened a course on global health at the Sussex International Summer School (2012, 2013, 2014). After having co-organized the production of “The Vagina Monologues” and concurrent workshops in her home village in Spain from 2007 to 2010, she was invited to lead its production at Sussex in 2012 in conjunction with the VDay worldwide campaign. They will be back by popular demand in 2014. Ana is also involved in Sussex Anthropology, a student led group creating audio and video podcasts of interviews, debates and seminars for students and faculty.

In her work with the Breast Cancer Consortium, Ana strategizes with critical Spanish and European activists, scholars, and practitioners to promote public engagement. A consummate collaborator and organizer, Ana has developed programs around critical breast cancer issues with the University of California Davis, EHESS (France), Universidad CEU (Spain), Universidad de Valencia (Spain), and Sussex University (UK) as well as activist groups such as Marimachos Cancerosas (Spain), the Alliance for Cancer Prevention (UK), Au Sein de sa Difference (France), Oncogrrls (Spain), and the Spanish Network of Women’s Health Workers. She also organized two screenings of the acclaimed Canadian documentary Pink Ribbons, Inc. followed by a public discussion in Brighton and at the University of Sussex (UK, 2013); participated in an interactive tour of London on environmental links to cancer organized by Alliance for Cancer Prevention and co-organized two public events on Breast Cancer and Dissident Corporealities in Barcelona and Alicante (2013), firsts of its kind in Spain.

What will she do next?

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