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2 Nov 2010
environment: how people influence and are influenced by their environment, both physical
and human (e.g. cultural, political, social, economic)
space: container, has an objective, spiritual value
how things vary over space, and how spatial variations in one thing influence spatial
variations in other things
place: how the combination of factors found at a place make that place unique - people have
subjective attachment to places (personal perception)
What do we mean when we talk about Medical Geography or Geographies of Health?
What aspects of our lives outside of our genetic composition influence our health?
What role does where we live play on our health?
- follows different diets
- housing and sanitation
- physical environment, temperature, soil conditions, cultural aspects, beliefs
landscape: metaphor for the layers of history, social structure, and built environment that
converge in particular places (plurality of meanings, metaphorical construct)
therapeutic landscapes: places that have achieved lasting reputations for physical, mental,
and spiritual healing
- social/cultural reputations built on physical environment (e.g. spa towns)
- ethnographic vs. experiential studies
health: "a state of complete physical, mental, and social well-being and not merely the
absence of disease or infirmity" (WHO, 1947)
- absence of disease (biological)
- adaptation of an organism to a particular environment (ecological)
- social, political, economic, and spiritual well-being (social, structural, or subjective
traditional and western health systems
medicine as a cultural system
- all human groups have a set of belief, patterns of thought, perceptions of which are
consistent with their cultural systems for defining and conceptualizing disease
- different medical practices/beliefs based on theories of diseases
- internal logic variues by individuals
- the alteration of living cells or tissues that jeopardizes survival of their environment
- malfunction
- diagnosed by a physician
- located in specific organs or systems in the body
- curable through specific biomedical treatments
- the medical perspective -- observable, measurable changes in the body's structure or
* objective; destructive and harmful
* frequently lead to punitive effects on the patient because they exaggerate, simplify, and
stereotype the patient's experience
* stigmatized
* may isolate the person with the disease from the community
illness: the patient's perspective - subjective response to what has happened to the patient,
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