Medicine and Society
One Section Available to Choose From:
|Course Dates||Weeks||Meeting Times||Status||Instructor(s)||CRN|
|July 01, 2013 - July 12, 2013||2||M-F 9A-11:50A||Waitlisted||Maya Mesola||10109|
By examining the social contexts of how medical knowledge is produced and disseminated, this anthropology course will help students compare health care provision in North and South America, Africa, Asia and the Middle East. This course will be of particular interest to students considering careers and further study in anthropology, sociology, international development, public health and medicine as it provides valuable insights into the impact that Western biomedical systems have had in different cultures.
Medical anthropologists have long studied health belief systems in particular cultures. In the study of contemporary societies, however, many anthropologists are researching not just illness experiences of patients but also studying science and technology as a particular kind of culture. This course introduces students to both perspectives by reading several case studies about how medicine is practiced and understood around the world today from the point of view of doctors and patients.
The first part of the course focuses on the social production of medical knowledge while asking important questions such as: (1) “how do doctors become socialized to think, see and act within the medical profession?” (2) “How does medical training impact care giving, empathy, and other subjective experiences of healing?” (3) “How is science redefining how we see and interpret race, sex, sexuality and human differences previously defined by society and individuals? What impact does this have in the practice of medicine and pharmaceutical treatments?” The second section examines the illness experience of patients in developing countries within the context of social inequalities. (1) “How do social position, sexuality, gender, race and poverty shape personal experiences of illness, risk, and survival?” (2) “How are patient decisions constrained or affected by social, economic and political inequalities?” (3) “Globally, should “Western” biomedicine be universally applied under the auspices of human rights agendas or are there more appropriate methods of care that could be applied in different cultures?”
This course is designed for pre-college students who are interested in studying medicine, science, as well as the humanities, social sciences, and public health, or development studies. Students will learn how ethnography can help us to better understand the role that culture has in influencing individual experiences of the body, how social and political contexts affect disease distribution, and the subjectivities of health professionals and governments who seek to intervene on bodies through the practice of medicine and by the enacting of social policies.
By the conclusion of this course students will be familiar with the basics of anthropological theory and practice and be able to apply them to the analyses of health problems in different social contexts. Students will also have a deeper understanding of the forces that generate illness around the world, be more aware of the social repercussions of medical practices, and develop an appreciation for the lived experiences of doctors and patients.