Lecture 11 August 15 2013
Government, NGOs, industry, business, advocacy
OVERVIEW-practical applications of anthro, basic vs. applied research (1 st
1. Medical Anthropology- done according to three models. It is a growth area,
a. Biomedical model- took centuries to develop, there are limits to this
model, this is where the other model comes in. Based on scientific
epistemology- looks at the body as a natural system, this model is
rooted in the medical sciences, and medical doctors use this model.
Focus is on human body and its functions, looks at disease and health,
and looks at health (internal to the body). Based on work of Claude-
medical doctor, wrote an important work in 1865, he elaborated a
scientific method to medicine, he argued medicine was observation
and experiment, he argued that medicine should be viva section- live
cutting of animals. Bernard developed theory of homeostasis- theory
of equilibrium, constant temperature, this idea (functioning body has
to maintain equilibrium, and that disease is a result of imbalance of
the system). Durkheim adopted Bernard’s model of equilibrium and
applied it to society, functionalism.
i. Scientific epistemology
ii. The human body & its functions
• Claude Bernard (1813‐1878)
iii.Epidemiology-study of health and illness in population, use
demography, biostatistics, study diseased like diabetes. This
research is common in public health.
b. Cultural –Interpretive model- looks at limits of biomedical model and
moves on from there, biomedicine just looks at body, they don’t look
at the cultural environment, where is the person living etc. it does not
reject the biomedical model, but it does not explain everything.
i. Limits of biomedical model
• Kuru / endocannibalism / prions
Case study of Kuru- kuru is the diseased studied among
the Foray people, much higher disease in this pop, attacks
the nervous system, ppl who get it shake, lose control of
body and die, its fatal. They attributed this cause to a Lecture 11 August 15 2013
slow virus, a latent viral cause that could live for a long
period of time, and hard to eliminate/kill. Now science
attributes it to Prion- are subviral entities, they are
pathogenic, fatal, b/c they reproduce, very deadly. Mostly
kuru women and children get this. Carlton Gajdosek won
a noble prize for this.
Why is the women and children getting this, what they
observed is that the foray practiced endocannibalism,
they eat the dead relatives, mostly the women were
involved in preparing the body, they would open up the
brain of the deceased and eat them and give it to children
as well. When the men came they ate the legs. There
were prions in the brain, and the women and children
were eating this. Only way to find out is going out in the
field and observing. They showed a cultural practice
provided the context for this biomedical condition.
ii. Medical practice is cultural-learned in a social context, wrapped
up in religion, witchcraft, why am I sick not anyone else.
Gender is also a huge factor in health.
iii.Phenomenology- approach is roo