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Instructor Class Description

Time Schedule:

Mario A Ceron Valdes
ANTH 475
Seattle Campus

Perspectives in Medical Anthropology

Introduction to medical anthropology. Explores the relationships among culture, society, and medicine. Examples from Western medicine as well as from other medical systems, incorporating both interpretive and critical approaches. Offered: jointly with HSERV 475.

Class description

AUTUMN 2010 This course is an introduction to medical anthropology. As a professional and academic field, medical anthropology provides conceptual and analytical tools for a comprehensive understanding of health, illness and healing. It is concerned with the ways in which individual experience is inserted in social and historical contexts.

We will explore ideas and behaviors related to health in different societies and social groups, as well as the ways in which they organize their resources to face health-related needs in the context of their social and economic realities. Course material combines introductory readings, academic articles and in-depth ethnographic studies with the analysis of journalistic pieces addressing currently important issues such as swine flu and health care reform. It also combines the study of illness experience and medical practice in the United States with that of other countries.

The learning objectives are: 1. to define key concepts in the field of medical anthropology; 2. to gain understanding of issues of current importance for the health of the world, the United States and Washington State; and 3. to apply concepts derived from medical anthropology to the analysis of everyday problems. We begin by introducing the field of medical anthropology and its main concepts. From there, we move to the study of health and illness as individual experience, emphasizing the study of meaning, experience and language. We then move to study the historical and social forces that shape illness experience, and end with the analysis of how power relations impact the ways we understand health, illness and how we approach it.

Class meetings will consist of lectures to introduce topics and concepts and group discussions to apply the concepts and examine them critically. Students will also work on individual projects of which they will give a short presentation during the quarter. Assignments will include readings and short written pieces.

Student learning goals

General method of instruction

Recommended preparation

Class assignments and grading


The information above is intended to be helpful in choosing courses. Because the instructor may further develop his/her plans for this course, its characteristics are subject to change without notice. In most cases, the official course syllabus will be distributed on the first day of class.
Last Update by Mario A Ceron Valdes
Date: 08/17/2010