How do medical anthropologists examine and interpret health, disease, and illness today, in order to elucidate the biosocial determinants of health and health-seeking behaviors? We are particularly interested in how medical anthropologists employ ethnographic techniques including interviewing, surveys, and observant participation/participant observation–also known as as ‘deep hanging out.’ Through experiential inquiries, we investigate the systemic health inequalities that are produced by socio-economic hierarchies, while paying particular attention to the most marginalized and vulnerable groups. Through the semester, students pursue their own individual, fieldwork-based projects on campus with students & staff. Our goal is a better understanding of the limits and strengths of ethnographic inquiry as we explore the challenges of collaborative research into health and inequality in a local world structured by diverse forces, actors, and motives. We consider how medical anthropologists: tell stories that describe and influence the ways that patients and providers respond to a dialogic quest for health and well-being within a world structured by social inequality and suffering; interpret the biological, socio-cultural, and behavioural determinants of health at individual and population levels and seeks to mitigate the ways that health inequities are produced by social inequality and unequal access to health resources; understand biomedicine and other medical systems as scientific and cultural discourses that project their own rationalities and biases even as they try to improve health outcomes.
Grading: no pass/fail option,
no fifth course option
four fieldnotes, weekly class discussion and writing exercises, final presentation on ethnographic project
Anthropology, Sociology, Women's, Gender and Sexuality Studies majors; Public Health, Science and Technology Studies concentrators
Difference, Power, and Equity
This course is cross-listed and the prefixes carry the following divisional credit:
This class examines the intersection of race, gender, class, and sexuality in structuring health outcomes and access to health resources. It theorizes the dynamics of race, gender, and class in shaping patient/provider encounters and efforts to 'improve' health outcomes within contexts of structural violence (poverty, racism, and sexism) and social suffering.
EXPE Experiential Education Courses
PHLH Methods in Public Health