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ANT 370 Medical Anthropology


Course description

Understandings of “health” and “illness” vary widely around the world.  This course examines how an individual’s interactions with the social and physical environment influence the experiences of health and illness.  The class begins with an overview of the development of medical anthropology as a subfield, with attention to its relationship with other disciplinary approaches to questions of health, medicine, and disease.  We then will consider meaning-centered approaches to health and illness, looking at ethnographic examples drawn from topics such as symbolic and shamanic healing, complementary and alternative medicine in the US, hospital birth versus midwifery, and the link between the individual and society in the healing process.  In the second part of the course, we will focus on biocultural perspectives on health, including the effects of prehistoric and historic life-ways and disease epidemics on the body. The third part of the class examines the politics of health, paying particular attention to the effects of race, ethnicity, gender, and class on health status and treatment. The final section of the course delves into the application of medical anthropology in the field of international development.   

Pre-requisite: ANT 101, ANT 202, SOC 110, or SOC 120.

Student Learning Outcomes

1.  Students will be able to define, describe, and explain terms, concepts, and theories related to medical anthropology and international public health.

2.  Students will be able to apply anthropological concepts to analyze social phenomena and evaluate theoretical and actual solutions to international health problems, focusing on both the developing and developed worlds.

3.  In both class discussions and informal and formal written exercises, students will communicate the historical, social, and political roots of contemporary health practices and beliefs.

4.  Students will develop the ability to critically think about the political, economic, and social aspects of the health care industry within the US and around the globe.