Medical Anthropology

Medical Anthropology is concerned with questions of health; illness and health care in society; cultural differences in health practices and outcomes; the culture of biomedical institutions and healing professions; cross-cultural comparisons of health care systems; the lived experiences of illness and disability; social suffering owing to societal catastrophes; cultural barriers facing the implementation of therapeutic and preventive programs among poor or marginalized communities in industrialized and developing societies; and the interrelationships between political, moral, and medical experiences.

Medical Anthropology involves ethnographic studies of patients, families, and practitioners as well as ethnographies of science and technology. Cross-cultural comparisons center on studies of hospitals and clinics along with religious and complementary and alternative healers. Research often focuses on narratives of illness, clinical and public health communication, and how ethnicity, race and the societal differences shape biological and psychological reactions to suffering. What characterizes Medical Anthropology and differentiates it from related fields is the priority given to the study of culture, local worlds, and the embodiment of meanings, values, and local practices.

Students of Medical Anthropology often go on to careers in global public health, clinical medicine, and humanitarian assistance, and also many other professions and social roles that are enabled by studying how individuals, cultural groups, and whole societies respond to health and social problems. Students are encouraged to study abroad and often do field placements in hospitals, clinics and disease-specific research projects, especially in poor and middle-income societies.

Requirements: 4 half-courses

One of the four half-courses may be in any area of Social Anthropology; three must be in the field of Medical Anthropology, with the option of substituting a course in either Biological Anthropology or Human Evolutionary Biology for one of the three.

  1. One entry-level half-course in Anthropology. Entry-level courses include:

    1. Anthropology 1600: Introduction to Social Anthropology

    2. Social Analysis 70: Food and Culture

    3. Social Analysis 28: Culture, Illness and Healing: Introduction to Medical Anthropology

  2. Three additional half-courses at the 100-level or above. Courses in Medical Anthropology include:

    1. Anthropology 1615: Anthropology and Human Rights

    2. Anthropology 1630: Anthropology of Religion

    3. Anthropology 17109: Memory Politics: Truth, Justice, Redress

    4. Anthropology 1790: Violence in the Andes : Coca, Conflict, and Control

    5. Anthropology 1830: Social Suffering

    6. Anthropology 1835: Introduction to Psychiatric Anthropology

    7. Anthropology 2640: Interventions: Ethics, Logics, Intentions

    8. Anthropology 2740: Culture and Mental Illness

    9. Anthropology 2750: Local Biologies

    10. Anthropology 2785: Theories of Subjectivity in Current Anthropology

    11. Anthropology 2855: Deep China

    12. Anthropology 1876: New Ethnographies of Social Experience