This course reviews foundational and contemporary work in the field of medical anthropology, treating illness and healing as cultural, political and experiential phenomena. The course begins by reviewing central concepts, theories and debates in the recent history of medical anthropology then shifts to examine the distinctions and differences between biomedicine and traditional therapeutic systems. The course will next focus on a series of ethnographic and applied anthropological case studies that directly or indirectly theorize the body, the mind, and experiences of well-being, disease and illness. Special attention will be paid to case studies concerning health and illness among Canada’s minority populations, and areas characterized by medical pluralism throughout the Global South. Through the available research, we will critically investigate and discuss the ways health, illness, and disease are conceptualized by medical anthropologists as cultural constructions, phenomenological experiences, as political-economic consequences, and as medicalized categories.
- Instructor: Emma Varley