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College of Liberal and Fine Arts

Devin Flaherty, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor

Department of Anthropology

Research area: Cultural Anthropology

Email: devin.flaherty@utsa.edu

Office: MH 4.03.28

Research in Progress

As a medical and psychological anthropologist, I study aging and end of life on the Caribbean island of St. Croix in the U.S. Virgin Islands. A founding claim of my research is that the U.S. Virgin Islands’ geopolitical status as an unincorporated territory directly shapes possibilities for care and experience among older adults nearing the end of their life on St. Croix. Within this context, I study and theorize care at macro, meso and micro levels. Some of the main topics my research has brought me to write about are: end-of-life-experience and caregiving experience, family caregiving, kinship across the lifecourse, bureaucratic processes and infrastructures, and hospice care. In addition to its clear connections with the anthropologies of aging and care, my work contributes to conversations within the anthropology of death and dying, phenomenological anthropology, the anthropology of moralities, and medical anthropology within the Caribbean, among others.

Since September 2017, when Hurricane Maria devastated St. Croix, my research has shifted to studying aging, end of life, and care in the context of disaster recovery. My current project seeks to understand the co-constitution of three forms of vulnerabilities or precarities: the ecological vulnerability of living on a small tropical island in the era of climate change, the existential vulnerability of illness and old age, and the political precarity of living as a contingent citizen on the periphery of the American empire. This project aims at studying disaster ‘recovery’ with a critical, long-term lens that looks beyond the immediate post-disaster response to the long years that follow.

Throughout my research, my main theoretical commitments are to person-centered ethnography, narrative and critical phenomenology. Methodologically, I borrow heavily from linguistic anthropology, primarily through the use of video recording of naturalistic interaction and narrative analysis.


Ph.D., University of California, Los Angeles, 2018


At the undergraduate level, I aim at bringing students in my classes as fully into the practice of anthropology as a way of honing skills that will be crucial for whatever future path they follow. This means engaging students with the critical reading of ethnographic texts and supporting them in writing articulately about the ideas encountered in those texts and about their ideas about those ideas. It also means including an ethnographic research component in every class, so that students can have the embodied experience of collecting data, analyzing it, and writing about it. Because everything we do (every job we might have, every relationship we might start, every new skill we might learn) takes place in the context of our social world, becoming a more reflexive participant in that world is a universally useful skill. That is the automatic gift of conducting ethnographic research.

At the graduate level, I tailor my mentorship to my students’ unique trajectories. I encourage conducting fieldwork as soon and as often as possible in graduate school. There are innumerable benefits to this, not the least of which is that it helps us (as student and mentor) stay connected with the people and worlds that are at the heart of our endeavor, rather than get too caught up in abstract theoretical debates (although, those can be fun too sometimes).

Current Ph.D. students: Jeni Brett.

Prospective Students: I am currently accepting MA and Doctoral students. I invite prospective students with shared research interests to contact me prior to submitting their applications.

Representative Publications

2020 - Flaherty, Devin. “The ‘Last Child’: Lone Family Caregivers in St. Croix, U.S. Virgin Islands.” Medical Anthropology 39(1): 16-28.

2019 - Flaherty, Devin. “‘Takin’ it One Day at a Time’: (Not) Anticipating as Moral Project.” Cambridge Journal of Anthropology 37(1): 61-76.

2018 - Flaherty, Devin. “Between Living Well and Dying Well: Existential Ambivalence and Keeping Promises Alive.” Death Studies 42(5): 314-321.

2018 - Flaherty, Devin and C. Jason Throop. “Facing Death: On Mourning, Empathy and Finitude.” In A Companion to the Anthropology of Death. Antonius C.G.M. Robben, ed. Pp. 161-173. Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons.


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Main Office: MH 4.03.38

Department of Anthropology

University of Texas at San Antonio

College of Liberal and Fine Arts

One UTSA Circle

San Antonio, TX 78249-1644