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ANT208 Lec 2

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Dan Sellen

ANT208 Lec 2 – Medical Anthropology: Evolution + Culture  Many diff. types of approach that people use in medical anthro view  Focus of class = evolution of human health vulnerabilities, but doesn’t assume that all biological reasons; 1 of key features of humans = social and cultural adaptations  Defining Anthropology  Aims  History  Sub-disciplines  4 of them  Culture concept  culture is difficult to define; it has influence on health b/c important evolutionarily  Biocultural prespective  Understanding health – where we have it, where we don’t, etc.  Can have it on several things, eg. food  Defining Medical Anthropology  Disease / Illness / Sickness / Suffering  Locating health (3 bodies)  Political economy (critical approach)  Ethnomedicine  Approaches  Interpretive – how people perceive sickness  Applied – when take info and apply it  Evolutionary – how it all happened  Anthropology: aims to investigate (describe + understand)  Major classes of contrast:  Cultural +biological – to understand biological perspective  Similarities (common to all) + variations (differences, disparities, inequities) – identify differences, understand them; may have greater vulnerabilities  Space (social: cultures + geographic: populations) + time (change: lifetimes, historic, prehistoric) – time goes from evolutionary changes or historical changes  Humans + closely related species – changes and diff b/w these 2  Holistic Approach  Aims at full + coherent understanding:  Broad + inclusive  Biological + cultural – combine and contrast  Physiological + social – when considering health  Culture – Key influence on biology – eg. Diet of culture affects biology  Biology – key component of culture – eg. Have life histories, follow certain phases  Important b/c every culture has special social spaces for each phase, changes  Human adaptations = biocultural  Biocultural Analysis:  Define condition, eg. Influenza viral infection  Evolutionary – natural selection favours reproduction over health  Historical – history of current or contemporary health problems  Cross cultural – risks of dying influenced by cultural settings  Political-economic – strong public health infrastructure to reduce flu  Nature and Cause of Variation – variation in disease prevalence or susceptibility  Changes over time (different time scales)  Cultural relativism (cultures to be understood on their own terms) – hierarchy of cultural development  Many topics: language, subsistence, religions, kinship, power relations, gender, economic political systems. The anthropology of X, Y, Z…  Mostly 4 fields in anthro  Social-cultural – observing people  Evolutionary – reconstruct evolutionary changes and condition  Linguistic – how people speak  Archaeology – artifacts of past people  Socio-cultural anthropology:  Combines ethnography + ethnology  Studies societies + cultures  Aims to explain social/cultural similarities + differences  Culture concept:  Patterns of thinking and behaviour common to a group of people  Eg. Rituals, wor
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