Faculty/Staff Resources Student Resources
University of Southern California
University of Southern California
USC Chan Division of Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy
USC Chan Division of Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy
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Gelya Frank PhD, MPW

Gelya Frank PhD, MPW

Professor Emeritus of Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy

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Gelya Frank, PhD is Professor at the USC Chan Division of Occupational Science & Occupational Therapy and the Dornsife College Department of Anthropology. A contributor to the disciplines of occupational science and medical anthropology, her award-winning books include Venus on Wheels: Two Decades of Dialogue on Disability, Biography and Being Female in America (University of California, 2000) and Defying the Odds: The Tule River Tribe’s Struggle for Sovereignty in Three Centuries (Yale University Press, 2010). Her new book Making Better Worlds: Occupational Reconstructions and Social Transformations (Duke University Press, forthcoming) presents a framework to understand and guide the work of activists, occupational therapists and other change agents in making social change. Dr. Frank is the founding director of New Stories/New Cultures, media literacy project with children funded by USC’s Good Neighbors program, the NAPA-OT Field School in Guatemala (napaotguatemala.org), and the Tule River Tribal History Project. She serves on the board of USC’s Peace Center and summer Peace Camp, a project for children in USC’s downtown Los Angeles neighborhood.


Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) in Anthropology
1981 | University of California, Los Angeles

Master of Arts (MA) in Anthropology
1975 | University of California, Los Angeles

Bachelor of Arts (BA) in Anthropology
1974 | University of California, Los Angeles



Journal Articles

Baranek, G. T., Frank, G., & Aldrich, R. M. (2021). Meliorism and knowledge mobilization: Strategies for occupational science research and practice. Journal of Occupational Science, 28(2), 274-286. https://doi.org/10.1080/14427591.2020.1824802 Show abstract


Journal Articles

Gray, J. M., Frank, G., & Roll, S. C. (2017). Integrating musculoskeletal sonography into rehabilitation: Therapists' experiences with training and implementation. OTJR: Occupation, Participation and Health, 37(1), 40-49. https://doi.org/10.1177/1539449216681275 Show abstract


Journal Articles

Angell, A. M., Frank, G., & Solomon, O. (2016). Latino families' experiences with autism services: Disparities, capabilities, and occupational justice. OTJR: Occupation, Participation and Health, 36(4), 195-203. https://doi.org/10.1177/1539449216666062 Show abstract


Journal Articles

Roll, S. C., Gray, J. M., Frank, G., & Wolkoff, M. (2015). Exploring occupational therapists' perceptions of the usefulness of musculoskeletal sonography in upper-extremity rehabilitation [Brief report]. American Journal of Occupational Therapy, 69(4), 6904350020p1-6904350020p6. https://doi.org/10.5014/ajot.2015.016436 Show abstract

Frank, G., & Kigunda Muriithi, B. A. (2015). Theorising social transformation in occupational therapy: The American civil rights movement and South African struggle against apartheid as 'occupational reconstructions'. South African Journal of Occupational Therapy, 45(1), 11-20. https://doi.org/10.17159/2310-3833/2015/v45n1a3 Show abstract

Conference Presentations/Proceedings

Roll, S. C., McLaughlin Gray, J., Frank, G., & Wolkoff, M. (2015). Therapist perceptions of the utility of sonographic imaging in the rehabilitation of musculoskeletal disorders [Poster presented at the 2015 AOTA Annual Conference & Expo, Nashville, TN]. American Journal of Occupational Therapy, 69(Suppl. 1), 6911515064p1. https://doi.org/10.5014/ajot.2015.69S1-PO2093 Show abstract

Roll, S. C., Gray, J. M., & Frank, G. (2015). Competency development and complexities of clinical integration of musculoskeletal sonography by non-physician rehabilitation providers [Paper presented at the 2015 AIUM Annual Convention and Preconvention Program Hosting WFUMB Congress]. Ultrasound in Medicine and Biology, 41(Suppl. 4), S20. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ultrasmedbio.2014.12.124 Show abstract


Journal Articles

Frank, G., & Carrier, C. (2011). Special theme issue: Occupations in space and time [Guest editorial]. Journal of Occupational Science, 18(1), 1-2. https://doi.org/10.1080/14427591.2011.562929

Frank, G. (2011). The transactional relationship between occupation and place: Indigenous cultures in the American Southwest. Journal of Occupational Science, 18(1), 3-20. https://doi.org/10.1080/14427591.2011.562874 Show abstract



Frank, G., & Goldberg, C. (2010). Defying the odds: The Tule River Tribe's struggle for sovereignty in three centuries. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press. Full text

Book Chapters

Frank, G., Baum, C., & Law, M. (2010). Chronic conditions, health, and well-being in global contexts: Occupational therapy in conversation with critical medical anthropology. In L. Manderson & C. Smith-Morris (Eds.), Chronic conditions, fluid states: Chronicity and the anthropology of illness (pp. 230-246). New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press. Full text


Book Chapters

Frank, G., Kitching, H. J., Joe, A., Harvey, C., Bechar, R., Bertram, A., Blanchard, J., & Taguchi-Meyer, J. (2008). Postcolonial practice in occupational therapy: The Tule River Tribal History Project. In N. Pollard, D. Sakellariou, & F. Kronenberg (Eds.), A political practice of occupational therapy (pp. 223-236). Edinburgh, UK: Churchill Livingstone.

Frank, G., & Zemke, R. (2008). Occupational therapy foundations for political engagement and social transformation. In N. Pollard, D. Sakellariou, & F. Kronenberg (Eds.), A political practice of occupational therapy (pp. 111-136). Edinburgh, UK: Churchill Livingstone.

Journal Articles

Frank, G., Murphy, S. T., Kitching, H. J., Garfield, D. M., & McDarment, N. (2008). The Tule River tribal history project: Evaluating a California tribal government’s collaboration with anthropology and occupational therapy to preserve indigenous history and promote tribal goals. Human Organization, 67, 430-442. Full text Show abstract

Frank, G., Block, P., & Zemke, R. (2008). Anthropology, occupational therapy and disability studies: Collaborations and prospects [Introduction to special theme issue]. Practicing Anthropology, 30(3), 2-5. Full text Show abstract


Book Chapters

Frank, G. (2007). Collaborating to meet the goals of a native sovereign nation: The Tule River tribal history project. In L. Field & R. G. Fox (Eds.), Anthropology put to work (pp. 65-84). New York, NY: Berg. Full text


Journal Articles

Frank, G., Blackhall, L. J., Murphy, S. T., Michel, V., Azen, S. P., Preloran, H. M., & Browner, C. H. (2002). Ambiguity and hope: Disclosure preferences of less acculturated elderly Mexican Americans concerning terminal cancer — A case story. Cambridge Quarterly of Health Care Ethics, 11(2), 117-126. https://doi.org/10.1017/S0963180102112035 Show abstract


Journal Articles

Frank, G. (2001). Melville J. Herskovits on the African and Jewish diasporas: Race, culture and modern anthropology. Identities: Global Studies in Culture and Power, 8(2), 173-209. https://doi.org/10.1080/1070289X.2001.9962690 Show abstract

Frank, G., Fishman, M., Crowley, C. C., Blair, B. A., Murphy, S. T., Montoya, J. A., Hickey, M. P., Brancaccio, M. V., & Bensimon, E. M. (2001). The New Stories/New Cultures after-school enrichment program: A direct cultural intervention. American Journal of Occupational Therapy, 55(5), 501-508. https://doi.org/10.5014/ajot.55.5.501 Show abstract

Blackhall, L. J., Frank, G., Murphy, S. T., & Michel, V. (2001). Bioethics in a different tongue: The case of truth-telling. Journal of Urban Health, 78(1), 59-71. https://doi.org/10.1093/jurban/78.1.59 Show abstract



Frank, G. (2000). Venus on wheels: Two decades of dialogue on disability, biography, and being female in America. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press. Full text


Journal Articles

Frank, G. (1999). Thoughts on institutional memory: Narrative constructions and future time. Narrative Inquiry, 9(1), 187-195. https://doi.org/10.1075/ni.9.1.11fra

Blackhall, L. J., Frank, G., Murphy, S. T., Michel, V., Palmer, J. M., & Azen, S. P. (1999). Ethnicity and attitudes towards life sustaining technology. Social Science and Medicine, 48(12), 1779-1789. https://doi.org/10.1016/S0277-9536(99)00077-5 Show abstract


Journal Articles

Frank, G., Blackhall, L. J., Michel, V., Murphy, S. T., Azen, S. P., & Park, K. (1998). A discourse of relationships in bioethics: Patient autonomy and end-of-life decision making among elderly Korean Americans. Medical Anthropology Quarterly, 12(4), 403-423. https://doi.org/10.1525/maq.1998.12.4.403 Show abstract

Segal, R., & Frank, G. (1998). The extraordinary construction of ordinary experience: Scheduling daily life in families with children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. Scandinavian Journal of Occupational Therapy, 5(3), 141-147. https://doi.org/10.3109/11038129809035739 Show abstract


Journal Articles

Frank, G. (1997). Jews, multiculturalism, and Boasian anthropology. American Anthropologist, 99(4), 731-745. https://doi.org/10.1525/aa.1997.99.4.731 Show abstract

Frank, G., Bernardo, C. S., Tropper, S., Noguchi, F., Lipman, C., Maulhardt, B., & Weitze, L. (1997). Jewish spirituality through actions in time: Daily occupations of young Orthodox Jewish couples in Los Angeles. American Journal of Occupational Therapy, 51(3), 199-206. https://doi.org/10.5014/ajot.51.3.199 Show abstract

Frank, G. (1997). Is there life after categories? Reflexivity in qualitative research. Occupational Therapy Journal of Research, 17(2), 84-98. Show abstract


Journal Articles

Dickie, V. A., & Frank, G. (1996). Artisan occupations in the global economy: A conceptual framework. Journal of Occupational Science, 3(2), 45-55. https://doi.org/10.1080/14427591.1996.9686407 Show abstract

Frank, G. (1996). Crafts production and resistance to domination in the late 20th century. Journal of Occupational Science, 3(2), 56-64. https://doi.org/10.1080/14427591.1996.9686408 Show abstract

Murphy, S. T., Palmer, J. M., Azen, S. P., Frank, G., Michel, V., & Blackhall, L. J. (1996). Ethnicity and advance care directives. Journal of Law, Medicine & Ethics, 24(2), 108-117. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1748-720X.1996.tb01843.x

Frank, G. (1996). Life histories in occupational therapy clinical practice. American Journal of Occupational Therapy, 50(4), 251-264. https://doi.org/10.5014/ajot.50.4.251 Show abstract

Clark, F. A., Carlson, M. E., Zemke, R., Frank, G., Patterson, K., Ennevor, B. L., Rankin-Martinez, A., Hobson, L. A., Crandall, J., Mandel, D., & Lipson, L. (1996). Life domains and adaptive strategies of a group of low-income, well older adults. American Journal of Occupational Therapy, 50(2), 99-108. https://doi.org/10.5014/ajot.50.2.99 Show abstract


Journal Articles

Blackhall, L. J., Murphy, S. T., Frank, G., Michel, V., & Azen, S. P. (1995). Ethnicity and attitudes toward patient autonomy. Journal of the American Medical Association, 274(10), 820-825. https://doi.org/10.1001/jama.1995.03530100060035 Show abstract


Journal Articles

Suto, M., & Frank, G. (1994). Future time perspective and daily occupations of persons with chronic schizophrenia in a board and care home. American Journal of Occupational Therapy, 48(1), 7-18. https://doi.org/10.5014/ajot.48.1.7 Show abstract


Journal Articles

Clark, F. A., Zemke, R., Frank, G., Parham, D., Neville-Jan, A. M., Hedricks, C., Carlson, M. E., Fazio, L., & Abreu, B. (1993). Dangers inherent in the partition of occupational therapy and occupational science [The issue is]. American Journal of Occupational Therapy, 47(2), 184-186. https://doi.org/10.5014/ajot.47.2.184


Journal Articles

Frank, G. (1992). Opening feminist histories of occupational therapy. American Journal of Occupational Therapy, 46(11), 989-999. https://doi.org/10.5014/ajot.46.11.989 Show abstract

Pierce, D., & Frank, G. (1992). A mother's work: Two levels of feminist analysis of family centered care. American Journal of Occupational Therapy, 46(11), 972-980. https://doi.org/10.5014/ajot.46.11.972 Show abstract


Journal Articles

Clark, F. A., Parham, D., Carlson, M. E., Frank, G., Jackson, J. M., Pierce, D., Wolf, R. J., & Zemke, R. (1991). Occupational science: Academic innovation in the service of occupational therapy's future. American Journal of Occupational Therapy, 45(4), 300-310. https://doi.org/10.5014/ajot.45.4.300 Show abstract

McCuaig, M., & Frank, G. (1991). The able self: Adaptive patterns and choices in independent living for a person with cerebral palsy. American Journal of Occupational Therapy, 45(3), 224-234. https://doi.org/10.5014/ajot.45.3.224 Show abstract

Frank, G., Huecker, E., Segal, R., Forwell, S., & Bagatell, N. (1991). Assessment and treatment of a pediatric patient in chronic care: Ethnographic methods applied to occupational therapy practice. American Journal of Occupational Therapy, 45(3), 252-263. https://doi.org/10.5014/ajot.45.3.252 Show abstract


Journal Articles

Yerxa, E., Clark, F. A., Frank, G., Jackson, J. M., Parham, D., Pierce, D., Stein, C., & Zemke, R. (1990). An introduction to occupational science: A foundation for occupational therapy in the 21st century. Occupational Therapy in Health Care, 6(4), 1-17. Full text Show abstract


Journal Articles

Frank, G. (1988). Beyond stigma: Visibility and self-empowerment of persons with congenital limb deficiencies. Journal of Social Issues, 44(1), 95-115. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1540-4560.1988.tb02051.x Show abstract


Journal Articles

Frank, G. (1986). On embodiment: A case study of congenital limb deficiency in American culture. Culture, Medicine and Psychiatry, 10(3), 189-219. Full text Show abstract


Journal Articles

Frank, G. (1985). "Becoming the other": Empathy and biographical interpretation. Biography, 8(3), 189-210. https://doi.org/10.1353/bio.2010.0479


Journal Articles

Frank, G. (1984). Life history model of adaptation to disability: The case of a congenital amputee. Social Science and Medicine, 19(6), 639-645. https://doi.org/10.1016/0277-9536(84)90231-4 Show abstract



Langness, L. L., & Frank, G. (1981). Lives: An anthropological approach to biography. Novato, CA: Chandler and Sharp.

Journal Articles

Frank, G. (1981). Mercy's children. Anthropology and Humanism Quarterly, 6(4), 8-12. https://doi.org/10.1525/ahu.1981.6.4.8


Journal Articles

Frank, G. (1979). Finding the common denominator: A phenomenological critique of life history method. ETHOS: Journal of the Society for Psychological Anthropology, 7(1), 68-74. https://doi.org/10.1525/eth.1979.7.1.02a00050


Journal Articles

Langness, L. L., & Frank, G. (1978). Fact, fiction and the ethnographic novel. Anthropology and Humanism Quarterly, 3(1-2), 18-22. https://doi.org/10.1525/ahu.1978.3.1-2.18