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Lecture 1

ANTHROP 3HI3 Lecture Notes - Lecture 1: Medical Anthropology, Biological Anthropology, Harm Reduction

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Priscilla Medeiros

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Lecture 1: IntroductionJan 9
What is medical anthropology?
- A subfield of cultural and physical anthropology that examines the ways in which culture
and society are organized around and influenced by issues of health
- Looks closely at the relationship between human health and cultural behavior
(biosocial lens)
o Mainly concerned with the experiences(s) of disease
- Often integrates a mixed methods approach to phases of research
Five (5) approaches to medical anthropology
- 1) Ecological: the environment and its health risks are, to a significant extent, created by
- 2) Bio-cultural: focuses on both the biological and cultural origins of health and disease
- 3) Ethno-medical: tri-fold look at the causation of illness, mechanisms for diagnosis, and
treatment practiced by various ethnic groups
- 4) Critical: examining medical systems through the lens of a critical theory (critique of
society and culture)
- 5) Applied: applying anthropological theory and/or methods to social problems
Examples of medical anthropology
- Local interpretations of illness and disease
- Perceptions of risk, vulnerability, and responsibility for illness and health care
- Preventative health and harm reduction practices
- The social organization of clinical interactions
- Disease distribution and health disparity
History of medical anthropology
- The development of modern medical anthropology in the 1960s and 1970s
- Founders of the subfield had their primary training in medicine, nursing, psychology, or
o Arthur Kleia’s tet seres as the foundation for both theory and methods
- Still maintains its multidisciplinary roots of investigation
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