Biographical Sketch

Cheryl Mattingly is a Professor of Anthropology at the University of Southern California in the Department of Anthropology and the Division of Occupational Science and Therapy.  Mattingly is the Director of the University of Southern California Initiative of Health, Humanity and Culture.  She is also a Dale T. Mortensen Senior Research Fellow at the Aarhus Institute for Advanced Studies of Aarhus University, Denmark.

Cheryl Mattingly has authored and edited five books.  Her most recent, The Paradox of Hope: Journeys through a Clinical Borderland, was awarded the 2012 Stirling Book Prize from the Society for Psychological Anthropology, American Anthropological Association.  Grounded in intimate moments of family life in and out of hospitals, this book explores the hope that inspires us to try to create lives worth living, even when no cure is in sight. The Paradox of Hope focuses on a group of African American families in a multicultural urban environment, many of them poor and all of them with children who have been diagnosed with serious chronic medical conditions.  Mattingly proposes a narrative phenomenology of practice as she explores case stories in this highly readable study. Depicting the multicultural urban hospital as a border zone where race, class, and chronic disease intersect, this theoretically innovative study illuminates communities of care that span both clinic and family and shows how hope is created as an everyday reality amid trying circumstances.

Dr. Mattingly co-edited Narrative, Self and Social Practice in 2009. This book facilitates an interdisciplinary discussion barely begun, that traverses a space between philosophers interested in narrative, self and practice, on the one hand, and social science scholars working to develop theories of self and social practice (including narrative theories of practice), on the other. In this book, the editors hope to facilitate an interdisciplinary discussion barely begun, one that traverses a space between philosophers interested in narrative, self and practice, on the one hand, and social science scholars working to develop theories of self and social practice (including narrative theories of practice), on the other.

Mattingly co-edited Narrative and the cultural construction of illness and healing in 2000. Inspired by the possibilities of narrative, the essays in this direction-setting volume present stories drawn from a range of ethnographic contexts. Stories of illness and healing are often arresting in their power, and they can illuminate aspects of practices and experiences surrounding illness that might otherwise be neglected. Recognizing the value of increased theoretical consciousness among those eliciting and analyzing narratives, these contributors explore narrative from a variety of perspectives.

In 1998, Mattingly wrote Healing Dramas and Clinical Plots: The Narrative Structure of Experience.  This book addresses the growing interest in "therapeutic narratives" and the relation between narrative and healing. Her ethnography of the practice of occupational therapy in a North American hospital investigates the complex interconnections between narrative and experience in clinical work. Viewing the world of disability as a socially constructed experience, it presents fascinatingly detailed case studies of clinical interactions between occupational therapists and patients, many of them severely injured and disabled, and illustrates the diverse ways in which an ordinary clinical interchange is transformed into a dramatic experience governed by a narrative plot. Drawing on a wide range of sources, including anthropological studies of narrative and ritual, literary theory, phenomenology and hermeneutics, this book develops a narrative theory of social action and experience. While most contemporary theories of narrative presume that narratives impose an artificial coherence upon lived experience, Mattingly argues for a revision of the classic mimetic position. If narrative offers a correspondence to lived experience, she contends, the dominant formal feature which connects the two is not narrative coherence but narrative drama. Moving and sophisticated, this book is an innovative contribution to the study of modern institutions and to anthropological theory.  In 1999 Mattingly received the Phi Kappa Phi Faculty Recognition Award for Healing Dramas and Clinical Plots: The Narrative Structure of Experience.  This award was granted by the University of Southern California. Her book also won the Victor Turner Prize in 2000 from the Society for Humanistic Anthropology, American Anthropological Association.

She also authored the book Clinical reasoning: Forms of inquiry in a therapeutic practice. This book provides an important and badly needed conceptual bridge between the technical and humanistic sides of occupational therapy practice.

In addition to her book awards, Mattingly also earned the Polgar Essay Prize for In Search of the Good:  Narrative Reasoning in Clinical Practice from the Society for Medical Anthropology, American Anthropological Association.

Cheryl Mattingly’s research has been supported by a number of grants from the National Institutes of Health (National Institute of Child Health and Human Development and National Institute of Mental Health) as well as Maternal and Child Health (Department of Health and Human Services), U.S. Department of Education, The American Occupational Therapy Association, the National Rehabilitation Hospital of Washington, D.C. and Walter Reed Army Medical Center of Washington, D.C. 

Mattingly has also been appointed to multiple Research Consultant positions, both in the United States as well as internationally.  She was consultant to the National Institutes of Health Office of Behavioral and Social Sciences Research: Enhancing Social and Behavioral Sciences in Medical School at Columbia University, New York (2006-2011).  She was also a consultant to the UCLA Department of Psychology NIH Grant Development of Culturally Competent Mental Health Care. Mattingly is also an International Research Consultant at Aarhus University, Denmark for the following: Epicenter Project: The Center for Cultural Epidemics, and Human Beings as Responsive Beings: Towards and Existential Anthropology (2010-2015).

Mattingly has provided service to the profession in many meaningful ways over the course of her career.  She is serving on many editorial boards, including Culture, Medicine and Psychiatry (2006), Medical Anthropology Quarterly (2002), and the Scandinavian Journal of Occupational Therapy (1998).  She also serves on the Academy of Research at the American Occupational Therapy Association.  She was on the Executive Board for the Society for Medical Anthropology from 2000-2003.  She currently holds professional membership in the following organizations: The Society for Humanistic Anthropology, the Society for Cultural Anthropology, the American Anthropological Association, the Society for Psychological Anthropology, the Society for Medical Anthropology, and the International Society for Cultural Research and Activity Theory.

Cheryl Mattingly is currently a Dale T. Mortensen Senior Research Fellow at the Aarhus Institute for Advanced Studies at Aarhus University in Denmark.  She was awarded “Influential Scholar Keynote Speaker” by the Department of Anthropology of the University of Southern California in 2011.  She was inducted as member in the Academy of Research at the American Occupational Therapy Association in 1999. She was also appointed member of the Research Study Committee of Maternal and Child Health at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services for four years (1996-2000). In 1992, she was given the Colin/Page Award by the University of Vermont at Burlington, as well as the Outstanding Service Award for Excellence in Research by the American Occupational Therapy Foundation. 

Before joining the University of Southern California faculty in 2004, Mattingly was a Professor of Occupational Therapy at the University of Illinois in Chicago (1988-1996). She was also a Postdoctoral Fellow of the National Institute of Mental Health Research at the Department of Social Medicine, Harvard University in Cambridge, MA (1990-1992).  She earned her doctorate in Anthropology and Urban Studies from MIT in 1989.

Moral Engines: In the course of the last decade or so, there has been a virtual explosion of anthropological literature which deals with morality and argues that morality should be considered a central dimension of human practice. The question of what fundamentally drives human beings to ethical reflection, to strive for moral perfection or the cultivation of particular virtues, however, most often remains unexplored in this literature. This question will be taken up for explicit discussion, creating a space for dialogue between representatives from anthropology, philosophy and the history of ideas: Is it care for the self (as e.g. in the Foucauldian sense)? Is it a care for others (as the classical works by e.g. Løgstrup and Levinas would have it)? May it be fear (e.g. fear of God or fear of social sanctions)? Or something else?  In short, the main issue of the conference is to explore what may be termed the various moral engines in human life: At which levels are they to be localised - intersubjective, societal, individual? Do they differ from society to society, culture to culture, social setting to social setting, or are they universal? 

Moral Epidemics and the Making of a “Good Family”: Raising Children with Autism and ADHD in the United States and Denmark.

This study concerns practices of family care for children diagnosed with two disorders, attention deficit/hypteractivity disorder (ADHD), and autism spectrum disorder (ASD).  ADHD and ASD put a global face on childhood disability.  They have received international visibility for several reasons: a) they have been identified as “epidemics”; b) the diagnostic criteria for inclusion are still shifting and often controversial; and c) powerful disability activist groups have arisen around them. The ethnographic study explores the ethics of care, parental activism and the mediating influences of home and neighborhood environments on care practices. More specifically, it examines the relationship between locally salient normative expectations of the “good family” and the lived experience of families who deviate from those expectations.  It focuses especially on processes of moral transformation as parents struggle to acquire treatment services for their children, counter the stigmas attached to disability and give children “real childhoods” through participation in everyday childhood activities.  Methodologically it involves a multi-tiered study that is at once person-centered, family-centered, community centered, and attentive to larger public discourses.  It examines how the mediating contexts of home and neighborhood influence the practices, health identities and lived experience of parents.

As part of carrying out this comparative research in Denmark and the United States, this ethnographic project initiates a new international research collaboration (through a Memorandum of Understanding) between Aarhus University and the University of Southern California (USC).  In Los Angeles, it involves a comparative examination of three racially and economically distinct Los Angeles communities.  One is a middle/upper middle class neighborhood that is predominantly Anglo-American but also includes other racial and ethnic groups, including African Americans.  A second is a low income and working class neighborhood that includes a sizable Anglo-American population.  The third is a predominantly low-income African American neighborhood.  In Denmark, Mattingly will collaborate with Danish colleagues to carry out a small study of Danish families whose children are receiving these diagnoses. Additional Danish funding will also support 1 to 2 Danish PhD students and a senior anthropology researcher to study these conditions in both Denmark and the United States.  At least one of the Danish PhD students will investigate these disorders in multiple racial, ethnic and class communities in Denmark.