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HLTC05H3 Lecture Notes - Enamel Hypoplasia, Zooplankton, Hypoplasia

Health Studies
Course Code
R Song

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Lecture 2: Biocultural Perspectives on Health (Critical Medical Anthropology)
Anthropologists do play a big role in public health especially epidemiology
oTraditionally focused on western cultures but there has been a shift to
understand epidemiology in non-western cultures
Try understand the community and the role of individual in the
community and trajectory of participation
oCulturally-defined= subjective vs. objective causes; particular to the
culture and how they view disease; response to disease can also change
in culture
Based on social, cultural environment as well as the changes in
one’s life (physiological or psycho-social health)
Greater stress can lead to greater susceptibility
oHistorical contingency= how medical histories/pasts play a current role in
YOUR susceptibility to disease, physiological and psycho-social health
Interested in who’s included and who is excluded from the story or analysis
oUnderlying social factors that affect the majority of the population
Critical medical anthropology
oSub field of bio-cultural anthropology
oBiology and culture intertwine
oLooks at political-economic sources of why you’re sick and how political-
economy plays a role in biology
oHow policy impacts health?
Determines if one person or not has access to health
Most interested in hidden causes
Neoliberal economic policies

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Micro-level is the individual understanding of health and health
policies while macro-level is health policies and public health
Goal of CMA= affect and create social change (i.e. community or political)
oActive role in challenging social inequity by uncovering the hidden causes
Globally today we live in socially unequal societies in terms of living
and working conditions
Social determinants of health and unequal distribution of
Belief that living in democratic societies; everything is equal
which is untrue but is continued to be perpetuated
Structural violence= social stratification and is entirely rigid (i.e. the
caste system in India)
Inequality in democratic countries (look @ prof’s lecture
notes for different forms of inequality and structural violence)
Aspects of every society.
These forms indirectly or directly are violent
Significant place put on social determinants of health
Critiques of CMA= (look at professor’s slides)
oInterpretive argument= depersonalizes individual conceptualization of
disease; focus on political economy
oEcological argument= ignores biological and ecological factors
Social inequality
oMacroparasitism= “when organisms appropriate others as continuing
sources of food and energy, we can characterize that relationship as
parasitism.” (Armelagos et al. 2005:756)
oOver time there has been greater parasitism
Egalitarian way of life during hunter-gatherer time
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