Profile: Elizabeth Chacko

Dr. Elizabeth Chacko, Associate Professor of Geography and International Affairs, the George Washington University, Washington, DC USA. Elizabeth’s research agenda focuses on the relationship between place/landscape and health. Her study areas range from nineteenth-century Washington to West Bengal, India.

Elizabeth Chacko is a native of India. She completed her undergraduate degree in geography from the University of Calcutta. She then migrated to the United States to engage in graduate study. She earned a master’s degree in geography at Miami University in Ohio. She then went on to take a PhD in geography and a masters in public health from the University of California at Los Angeles. Her doctoral dissertation investigated the Safe Motherhood Initiative and its effect on women’s access to health care and their reproductive health in a rural and poorly developed area in the state of West Bengal, India.

Elizabeth believes in the complementarity of quantitative and qualitative methods of analysis. A growing interest in the explanation of the human face of disease and health status has led her to investigate the socio-cultural aspects of health and health care in a variety of settings using humanistic theories and qualitative methods.

Using historical data, Elizabeth has investigated: patterns of malaria in nineteenth-century Washington, DC; the incidence and prevalence of smallpox during and following the Civil War in the context of spatial differences by race and class; and, the factors that were instrumental in the occurrence and eradication of the disease pellagra in the early twentieth century in the American South. She is also interested in factors governing the use of different therapies for chronic diseases, documenting how culture, especially belief systems, ideologies and identification with particular cultural regions affects the use of biomedicine and auxiliary treatments. Her research has been published in Health and Place, Social Science and Medicine and Gender, Place and Culture.

Elizabeth can be reached at

Updated: September 2007