Medicine, Culture, and Society (Spring 2016)

ANTH 2468, STS 2468, BSOC 2468


Medicine has become the language and practice through which we address a broad range of both individual and societal complaints. Interest in this “medicalization of life” may be one of the reasons that medical anthropology is currently the fastest growing sub-field in anthropology.  This course encourages students to examine concepts of disease, suffering, health and wellbeing in their immediate experience and beyond. In the process, students will gain a working knowledge of ecological, critical, phenomenological, and applied approaches used by medical anthropologists. We will investigate what is involved in becoming a doctor, the sociality of medicines, controversies over new medical technologies, and the politics of medical knowledge. Our readings will address medicine in North America as well as other parts of the world.  The universality of biomedicine (or clinical medicine) will not be taken for granted, but rather we will examine the differences in biomedicine, generated by the various political, economic, social, and ethical demands under which it has developed in different places and at different times. In addition, biomedical healing and expertise will be viewed in relation to other kinds of healing and expertise.