Medical Anthropology @ Brown

Fighting mosquito-borne diseases in Hong Kong, 2009Fighting mosquito-borne diseases in Hong Kong, 2009

Medical anthropology is a subfield of anthropology that seeks to understand human experiences of health, illness, and suffering. Medical anthropologists study topics such as global health, local health systems, indigenous medicine, violence and trauma, disability and the body, gender and sexuality, biotechnology, bioethics, and social suffering. Anthropology concentrators interested in medical anthropology have the opportunity to choose from a wide variety of relevant courses and to work with professors in the department who are engaged in medical anthropological research. They are also encouraged to enroll in related courses outside of the department. Seniors pursuing honors in the concentration who are interested in medical anthropology should work with appropriate faculty to develop an honors thesis grounded in the theory and scholarship of medical anthropology.

Potential Anthropology courses that engage with medical anthropology theory and topics:

ANTH 0066I: Human Trafficking
ANTH 0066J: So You Want to Change the World?
ANTH 0066K: International Perspectives of Women’s Agency and Society
ANTH 0110: Anthropology and Global Social Problems
ANTH 0125: Violence and the State
ANTH 0200: Culture and Human Behavior
ANTH 0300: Culture and Health
ANTH 0301: Gender and Politics
ANTH 0302: Anthropology of Gender and Globalization
ANTH 0310: Human Evolution
ANTH 0600: Of Beauty and Violence
ANTH 0680: Anthropology of Food
ANTH 1020: AIDS in Global Perspective
ANTH 1110: African Issues in Anthropological Perspective
ANTH 1210: Culture and Cognition
ANTH 1220: Comparative Sex Roles
ANTH 1221: Anthropology of Masculinity
ANTH 1223: Gender, Nature and the Body
ANTH 1224: Human Trafficking, Transnationalism and the Law
ANTH 1227: Science, Activism, and Politics of Gender
ANTH 1232: War and Society
ANTH 1241: Science and Culture
ANTH 1242: Bioethics and Culture
ANTH 1251: Violence and the Media
ANTH 1252: Kill Assessment: An Investigation into Death, Genocide and Other Forms of Violence
ANTH 1255: Anthropology of Disasters
ANTH 1300: Anthropology of Homelessness
ANTH 1305: Medical Humanities: Critical perspectives on Illness, Healing and Culture
ANTH 1310: International Health: Anthropological Perspectives
ANTH 1311: Language and Medicine in Practice
ANTH 1312: Stratified Reproduction: Race, Class and Parenthood
ANTH 1320: Anthropology and International Development
ANTH 1322: Human Rights, Social Justice, and Humanitarian Intervention: The Anthropology of Global Aid
ANTH 1420: Ethnicity, Race, and Gender in the Americas
ANTH 1551: Techno-Ecologies: Health, Environment and Culture in the Digital Age
ANTH 1552: Environmental Change: Ethnographic Perspectives
ANTH 1554: The Anthropology of Violence
ANTH 1555: Environmental Anthropology
ANTH 1623: Archaeology of Death
ANTH 1660: The Ancient Body: Past Ideas about Human Physicality
ANTH 1700: Evolutionary Theory and Human Behavior
ANTH 1710: Biological Issues in Human Origins and Variability
ANTH 1720: The Human Skeleton
ANTH 1870A: Reproductive Health and Sexuality
ANTH 1880: From Magic Mushrooms to Big Pharma: Anthropology of Drugs

Relevant courses in other departments:

AFRI 1160: Public Health in Africa: History, Politics and Practice
AMST 1601: Health and Healing in American History
AMST 1610J: Body and Soul: Health and Sexuality, 1860-1920
BIOL1920D: Race, Difference and Biomedical Research
GNSS 0090C: Reproductive Health: Science and Politics
HIST 0286: History of Medicine (I and II)
HIST 1977I: Gender, Race, and Medicine in the Americas
HIST 1979P: History of Chinese Medicine
HIST 0685A: The Social Lives of Dead Bodies
HMAN 1970G: International Perspectives on NGOs, Public Health, and Health Care Inequalities
HMAN 1970W: Medicine and Colonialism in the Atlantic World
HMAN 2970E: Pain, Medicine and Society
HMAN 1971E: Cross-Cultural Approaches to Death and Dying
PHIL 0990D: Justice, Resource Allocation, and Health Care Rationing
POLS 1822T: Politics of Health in the Global South
PHP 0310: Health Care in the United States
PHP 1010: Doctors and Patients
PHP 1070: The Burden of Disease in Developing Countries
PHP 1100: Comparative Health Care Systems
PHP 1400: HIV/AIDS in Africa
PHP 1600: Obesity in the 21st Century
PHP 1680I: Pathology to Power: Disability, Health and Community
SCSO 1700N: Race, Science and Society
SOC 0300K: Inequalities and Health
SOC 1550: Sociology of Medicine

For more information contact:

Professor Andrew Scherer, Director of Undergraduate Studies (


Professor Katherine A. Mason (