Lecture 1

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24 Mar 2012
ANTH 341 Lecture 1 9/15/2011 5:18:00 PM
Sub disciplines of Anthropology:
o A. Social or Cultural
Images of Bronislaw Malinowski among Trobriand tribe
Practices of contemporary peoples and populations;
o B. Archaeology
Also looks at human behavior, but by looking at human
remains of prehistoric and recent populations
Try to uncover past populations and reconstruct both the
materials and behaviors that are associated with them; hope
to recreate the behavior of individuals in the past. Look at
similarities/differences over time
o C. Physical/Biological
Biological perspective, looking at underlying reasons for
differences we see in current and past populations
How humans have change
Reconstruct human behaviors over time through fossil
remains and materials left behind
o Humans are social animals, organized into groups that regulate and
perpetuate themselves, and it is an individual‟s experience as a
member of a group or society that shapes their view of the world
o A way that humans organize and legitimize their society, and it
provides the basis for its political, social and economic organization.
o Edward Tylor (1871) “ that complex whole which includes
knowledge, belief, art, morals, law, custom, and any other
capabilities and habits acquired by humans as members of society.”
o Participate in ethnographic fieldwork, (participant observation)
spend long periods of time with individuals to do deep research
When you spend time with people, they open up to you
Cultural ‘Lens’
o Through its use of symbols, ideas, and meanings, culture provides
an inherited „lens‟ through which an individual perceives and
understands the world that they inhabit, and learns how to live
within it.
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o Teaches what is right, what is wrong, what to do in certain
o Provides a way to evaluate symptoms: tells us what to do
Where and how does Medical Anthropology fit in?
o Although medical anthropology is usually thought of as a branch of
social/cultural anthropology, its roots lie and are intertwined deep
within medicine and other natural sciences, for it is concerned with
a wide range of biological phenomena, especially in relation to
health and disease.
o It overlaps sociocultural and physical anthropology
o Range of Medical Anthropology:
o Sociocultural
>critical (or politico-economic)>
clinically applied medical anthropology
o M.A. that is applied in a clinical
M.A. is „a biolcultural discipline concerned with both the biological
and sociocultural aspects of human behavior, and particularly with
the ways in which the two interacted throughout human history to
influence health and disease.‟ (Foster and Anderson)
M.A.‟s- investigate differences in health/disease experience by
using a cross-cultural approach, comparing/contrasting sociocultural
situations to illuminate the underlying causes of variation and/or
similarity, and to determine which factors may contribute to
variations in responses to disease.
Which factors are most important?
Depends on many factors/situations
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o i.e. economic/religious factors
Case Studies
(a) Oral re-hydration therapy in Pakistan
(b) Childhood diarrhea in Rural Pakistan
o early 1980s, leading cause of infant child mortality
o accounts for approx. 300,000 deaths per year
o massive nationwide oral rehydration therapy (ORT) campaign
initiated: successful in urban areas but not in rural areas
o * death stats
o despite that the gov. actively promoted ORT in previous 4
years, and that it‟s believed to be effective in 80-90%, didn‟t
o called in medical anthropologists that found a number of
important factors undermining the efficiency of ORT:
1. Incomplete understanding of ORT,
2. „Heat‟ as a cause of diarrhea
o in some medical systems, there is a dichotomy between hot
and cold, to be healthy need a balance between the 2
3. Diarrhea as an illness requiring folk treatment
4. Use of traditional healers to treat diarrhea
o may/may not understand a lot about dehydration
5. Diarrhea as a „natural condition‟ not classified illness
o considered part of life process
Implications? „added value‟ of anthropological research,
right questions/complete responses, appropriate
interventions complimenting cultural beliefs and values
(c) cardiovascular disease among the Hutterites in Alberta
o study looked at disease and wanted to see if there is a way to
find out why the rates are so high and intervene appropriately
o cooked lard- bad for cholesterol
o hutterites are communal;
Readings for this week: Chapter 1, Chapter 47, conceptual tooks p 1,2
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