Elisabeth Bolaza

PhD Candidate
Human Sexuality

MPH in Health & Social Behavior/Global Health


Elisabeth Bolaza is a PhD candidate and member of the inaugural cohort of the HSX PhD program at CIIS. She holds a master's degree in Public Health from UC Berkeley and an undergraduate degree in Biology from UCLA. She is also an Adjunct Professor with the CIIS Community Mental Health master’s program, teaching Human Sexuality.

Elisabeth’s research focuses on the sexuality of motherhood and birth, and the social justice issues facing birthing people. The Birth Pleasure Study, her dissertation project, is a mixed-methods study of pleasure as experienced in labor and giving birth. Through this work she intends to elucidate the ways pleasure impacts birth experience, outcomes, and wellbeing across class and race categories. She is particularly interested in embodiment, autonomy, justice, and empowerment in the context of birth.

Elisabeth engages radical, participatory, and transformative approaches in her research and activism. Her multidisciplinary work pulls together public health, medical anthropology, cultural studies, and women's studies. Drawing on intersectional feminisms, biopsychosocial and socio-ecological perspectives, and a drive to engage in political and biological discourse, she endeavors to bridge disciplinary divides and contribute to the practices of public sexual health, women's studies, and sexuality research. Elisabeth lives in Oakland, California with her husband and two daughters. Learn more about her work or connect with her at www.elisabethbolaza.com.

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