Sarah Van Hoy is an anthropologist, acupuncturist, herbalist, psychotherapist, and championess of creative thinkers. As a faculty member, Sarah is committed to nourishing learning that intentionally connects our sensual, intellectual, and political lives. In addition to teaching in the Goddard Graduate Institute and in Undergraduate Studies at Goddard, Sarah is currently editing a contributed volume of essays entitled Materia Poetica: Embodiment, Ethics, and the Re-Enchantment of Medicine.
PhD in Anthropology, University of Washington
MA in Medical Anthropology, University of Washington
MA in Counseling Psychology, Pacifica Graduate Institute
MTCM in Traditional Chinese Medicine, Northwest Institute of Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine
BA, University of Michigan
Areas of Expertise
- Ecological Medicines
- Social Medicines
- Critical Medical Anthropologies
- Herbal Medicines
- Classical Chinese Medicines
- Healing Justice
- Neurobiology and Neurodiversities
- Feminist and Post-Colonial Science Studies
- Traditional Environmental Knowledge
- Somatic Studies
- Trauma Studies
- Embodiment Studies
- Consciousness Studies / Decolonizing Spiritualities
I am the daughter, niece, granddaughter, and great-granddaughter of herbalists, farmers, teamsters and factory workers. My earliest memories are of listening to accordion music, talking to trees, spying on faeries, watching my mother collect nettles, and writing poetry. For 20 years — from the middle of my childhood through young adulthood — I lived in ashrams in the United States and India, studying and practicing non-dual Tantra. I left the ashram for ethical reasons and became sensitive to the beauty and also the violence of spiritual narratives. Eventually, these insights developed into a general interest in language, cultural knowledge, and embodied experience.
As a scholar, clinician, and educator I have always been curious about the way we make meaning with, from, and about our bodies and bodily experiences — particularly those experiences that feel, in some way, marginalized or illegitimate. These questions have brought me back again and again to healing practices and knowledges, to those projects where we define what it means to be “well” or “ill” and where we experience the personal and political implications of those definitions.
In the early 1990s, I began to explore these questions through a lens of integrative mental health — a term which did not quite exist yet, but by which I meant “attending to complexities at the intersections of body/psyche/culture/world” and through which I sought to bring together multiple languages, practices, and perspectives on these complexities. I became interested in various kinds of energetic medicines, including herbal medicines and acupuncture, and various psychotherapeutic dialects, many of which felt inadequate or problematic in some way.
In 1997, I landed in a doctoral program in medical anthropology where I explored the ways medical knowledge is produced — and reproduced — and the way this knowledge creates, in turn, people – subjects and subjectivities. My fieldwork in Classical Chinese Medicine had me studying technologies of diagnosis, invented traditions, therapeutic self-fashioning, medical hermeneutics, and the poetics of the body. This last piece, which continues to give me the most joy, was a little bit outside of proper anthropological reasoning when I was writing my dissertation in 2007. Now, after 10 more years, I am reclaiming those chapters and rewriting them in collaboration with other poets, healers, and teachers.
I live on a piece of land with large gardens, a pond full of frogs, two little boys who play soccer, two dogs that bark, a cat that worries the mice, and a rabbit that makes poop for the gardens. I spend the summer growing children and plants and making sure I have enough wood for the winter. I spend the winter making sure the fire doesn’t go out. I am honored to be part of the Goddard community — and therefore part of the conversations that renew our world.