In this course we will explore the social dimensions of medicine, the body, illness, health, healing, medical care and biotechnologies across societies and times from comparative, cross-cultural, ethnographic perspectives. We will examine the role of cultural differences in defining and dealing with health and illness and investigate health related factors that link humanity cross-culturally through common needs. If human experiences and understandings of illness, suffering, and healing are not objectively rooted in universal facts of biology or nature, how are they to be analyzed and understood? If the interaction between biology and culture depends on the context, what is the status of biomedicine? Can/should the biomedical model simply be regarded as one system of belief and practice among others? And how is the biomedical model embedded in a socioeconomic hierarchy that unevenly distributes health and healthcare between haves and have nots? We will pursue these questions in a global framework, drawing on ethnographies and critical essays that open up the field of medical anthropology.
Registration for this course will begin on Wednesday, May 17 from 1:00pm – 2:00pm in Barn 220.