Medical Anthropology: Medicine and Culture

“This course has shown me more than any other that the individual is connected to the structural, political, social, and economic forces in our society.”

“This course has helped me in all of my classes- the things I learned in this class I could apply to other broad concepts- helped me make connections between different bodies of material.”

“This course honestly changed my career path. I am really looking forward to practicing medicine in communities where it is less accessible.”

“I’ve been able to connect my science classes/pre-med courses with the human experience- I feel more prepared to enter the medical profession with my increased awareness of how our medical system influences different populations.”

Course Syllabus

States of illness and health are not simply the result of biological processes. If we want to understand why people get sick and how they get better, we must also study the social and cultural aspects of medicine and disease. This course is an introduction to medical anthropology: the study of cultural meanings, social relations, and systems of power that shape experiences of illness and health. Medical anthropological research produces powerful insights about the extra-biological aspects of health and health care that can reduce disease burdens and improve health outcomes. In this class, students engage with ethnographic texts and films from Western and non-Western medical settings in order to learn how health, illness and healing practices are culturally shaped, transformed, and contested.