Cassandra Hartblay, Ph.D., is a sociocultural medical anthropologist working in a variety of media and performance formats.

Dr. Hartblay is currently assistant professor at the University of Toronto Scarborough based in the Department of Health and Society. In 2020, she co-founded and became the inaugural director of a new research unit, The Centre for Global Disability Studies. She is a member of the graduate faculty in the Department of Anthropology at the University of Toronto, and an affiliate faculty member at the Centre for European, Russian, and Eurasian Studies at the Munk School of Global Affairs & Public Policy. Read more about her upcoming courses here.

During the 2017-2018 academic year, Dr. Hartblay was a postdoctoral associate and lecturer for Russian Studies at the MacMillan Center for International and Area Studies at Yale University, with a cross-affiliation with the Department of Anthropology.

She was a 2015-2017 postdoctoral associate in the Department of Communication at the University of California San Diego, a position supported by the University of California Collaboratory for Ethnographic Design (CoLED). While at UCSD, she taught undergraduate courses in the Department of Anthropology, Department of Communication, and the Program in Critical Gender Studies during the 2016-2017 academic year.

Her work on comparative regimes of productivity and dependency, as related to gender, disability, and the welfare state between the United States and Soviet Union in the 20th century, received the competitive Irving K. Zola Award for Emerging Scholars in Disability Studies in 2013. She has worked as an applied qualitative researcher with the Soros Foundation, contributing to a collected volume on inclusive education in Central Asia. She was a 2015  summer research fellow at the Kennan Institute for Russian Area Studies at the Woodrow Wilson Center for International Scholars in Washington DC. She recently ended a two-year term on the steering committee of the Disability Research Interest Group of the Society for Medical Anthropology of the American Anthropological Association

Dr. Hartblay was awarded a 2016-2017 Frontiers of Innovation Scholarship Program grant for research and development of a new play titled I WAS NEVER ALONE, based on ethnographic fieldwork on the life experiences of people with mobility and speech impairments in Russia.  The grant supported a staged workshop at UC San Diego/La Jolla Playhouse in early October 2016 with visiting director Joseph Megel and assistant director Jason Dowart. The play has also been performed in staged readings at UNC Chapel Hill and Yale University.

This photo shows a cropped close-up of Cassandra's face. She is laughing and smiling, she has dimples and cropped brown hair, and is wearing a grey tank top and silver necklace. Two figures, out of focus, are walking down a city street in the background. Photo credit: Renik Shchetinin.

At UC San Diego, she curated the Performance Ethnography Lab at the Studio for Ethnographic Design, co-launched the Transdisciplinary Disability Studies Working Group, hosted visiting Russian filmmaker and disability advocate Vladimir Rudak for the premiere of his new film PINEAPPLE, and spearheaded planning for the Fall 2016 CoLED Conference, ETHNOGRAPHY & DESIGN: MUTUAL PROVOCATIONS. At UC San Diego, Dr. Hartblay served as the postdoctoral fellow for CoLED, the UC Collaboratory for Ethnographic Design, an intercampus research network interrogating the nexus of design and ethnography.

Dr. Hartblay received her PhD from the Department of Anthropology at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in May 2015.

Her writing for a general audience has been featured on the culture-kitsch blog RUSSIA! Magazine and on the medical anthropology blog Somatosphere. Dr. Hartblay’s multimedia documentary work includes oral history, digital archives, ethnographic theater and performance ethnography, and documentary photography. In 2020, she began serving a three-year term on the Board of Directors of the Society for Disability Studies.

Contact: Email Dr. Hartblay at cassandra.hartblay (at) utoronto (dot) ca