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Lecture 22

ANTHROP 3HI3 Lecture Notes - Lecture 22: Ethnomedicine, Environmental Health, Biopolitics


Department
Anthropology
Course Code
ANTHROP 3HI3
Professor
Dr.Medeiros
Lecture
22

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ANTHROP 3HI3 Lecture 22
April 4, 2016
Priscilla Medeiros, 1
Biopolitics and the State: Part 5 (Theoretical Approaches)
Ethnomedicine:
Refers to the study of human health systems in specific cultures
Health ethnographies discusses the roles, policies and experiences of people with and
involved in diseases
o Ethnomedicine reveals differences and similarities in health practices cross-
culturally
A key concept is one’s explanatory model
o Notions around the cause of the illness, diagnostic criteria and treatment options
o Understanding the disease/illness by patients practitioners, family members is
going to differ
o Despite negotiations, there are always going to be negative outcomes
The disease-illness distinction is important in the study of ethnomedicine
o Diseasea deviation from medical norms
§ Western biological category and not a universal experience
o Illness the experience of suffering as culturally determined or constructed
§ Social, spiritual, etc.
o This is why ethnomedicine thinks that explanatory models are very important
because experiences of illnesses are not just biological
Theories of Illness:
1. Personalistic Disease Theory
o Illness results from supernatural entities (or sorcery)
§ Ancestral ghosts and spirits
o Healers must use supernatural means to learn the cause and treat the disease
(i.e. voodooism)
2. Emotionalistic Disease Theory
o Illness is due to negative emotional experiences
o Anxiety causes lethargy in South America à “susto”
o Encompasses the idea of somatization
3. Naturalistic Disease Theory
o Illnesses are attributed to physical organisms (i.e. bacteria or viruses)
o Link of disease and illness to scientific causes
More than one disease model can be applied to each person suffering from an illness
The Epidemiological Approach:
Focuses on identifying disease risk factors based on how, when, and where they occur
Examines the complex interaction among individual (i.e. intrapersonal), social, and
environmental (i.e. health and social policies) factors that cause health problems and
influence the spread of diseases across populations
Health knowledge, attitudes and understanding of illnesses
Socialinvestigates social areas (i.e. schools) and investigates characteristics that
affect an individual’s understanding of health and illnesses
o Sorcery can explain the social level of the experiences
Environmentalhealth, economics, education and social policies that maintain social
inequalities between groups in society
o i.e. Duvalier’s regime that maintains structural violence at the height of the HIV
epidemic worsened HIV infections and caused further infections of TB, etc.
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