Introduction to Medical Anthropology

ANTH 227.001 with Vinay Kamat.

This is an introductory course in medical anthropology which includes the study of health, illness and healing from a cross-cultural perspective. The course examines aspects of health and illness from a biocultural perspective. In reading ethnographic materials from Western and non-Western settings, we will explore how medical anthropologists creatively use different theoretical and methodological approaches to understand and highlight how health, illness and healing practices are culturally constructed and mediated. The case studies and other required readings will help us learn to appreciate the contribution of medical anthropology to the study of international public health problems including specific life-threatening diseases such as HIV/ AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria. Topics covered by this course include cultural interpretations of sickness and healing, medical systems as social systems, medical pluralism, belief and ethnomedical systems, medical decision making, social relations of therapy management, cultural construction of efficacy and “side-effects,” pharmaceuticalization of health, explanatory models, cultural competence, narrative representation of illness, biopolitics, the body and debate surrounding female genital mutilation/cutting, the political economy of HIV/AIDS in Africa, structural violence and social suffering, the New Genetics and social stigma. Here is a draft syllabus: Anthro 227.001.2014.Syllabus.Draft.May 11, 2014