Anthropology 253:  Theory in Medical and Psychiatric
        Anthropology: Culture, Science and the Body

        Harvard University, Fall 1996
        Byron J. Good, Professor of Medical Anthropology,
        Dept. of Social Medicine and Dept. of Anthropology
        Assisted by Joseph Dumit, Ph.D.,
        Fellow, Dept. of Social Medicine

        This course will review theoretical positions and debates in medical and psychiatric anthropology, with special attention to cultural studies of the biosciences and biomedicine and to recent critical and phenomenological accounts of the body. The course will provide a historical review of theoretical traditions in medical anthropology, focusing in particular on the interpretive tradition in medical anthropology and the cultural studies tradition in science studies, and will examine recent writing in the field at the interface of the two.

        The format of the course will include discussion, commentaries, and occasional lectures.  During the first hour, two students will participate in leading a critical discussion of the required readings for that day. Course instructors will lecture or provide formal commentaries on student precis's for the final 30 minutes of each class.  The course has three requirements.  First, each student will be expected to participate in leading the discussion of required (and suggested) readings during one class period.  Second, each student will be expected to write a brief precis -- a summary of critical thoughts that arise during your reading -- about several or all of the required readings for six classes. These should be left in my mail box (3rd floor, William James Hall) in quadruplicate at 5:00 each Monday afternoon, and will be used by me and the discussion leaders to organize our discussion for the day. Third, each student will be expected to write a research paper (ca. 15-25 pages), reviewing theoretical issues related to some substantive matter of interest to the student or else directly addressing a theoretical issue of relevance to medical or psychiatric anthropology.  This paper will be due the last day of reading period.  Students may wish to combine these three exercises, focusing their final paper on issues raised in their weekly precis's and the readings of the week for which they are discussion leaders. The precis's will contribute 40% and the research paper 60% to the final course grade.

        Books ordered at the COOP include Byron Good, Medicine, Rationality and Experience; Thomas Csordas, The Sacred Self: A Cultural Phenomenology of Charismatic Healing; J. Crary and S Kwinter, eds., Incorporations; Sandra Harding, The "Racial" Economy of Science; Allan Young, The Harmony of Illusions: Inventing Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder; Paul Rabinow, Making PCR: A Story of Biotechnology; Laura Nader, ed., Naked Science: Anthropological Inquiry into Boundaries, Power, and Knowledge (rec.); Adele Clarke and Joan Fujimura, eds., The Right Tools for the Job; and Michael Jackson, ed., Things as They Are (rec.).
Anthropology 253:  Theory in Medical and Psychiatric Anthropology: Culture, Science and the Body
Harvard University, Fall Semester 1996
Prof. Byron J. Good, with Joseph Dumit


SEPTEMBER 17:  Introduction to the Course

  1.   Provide a historical overview of theoretical approaches to the study of culture and illness, systems of healing, and comparative studies of medical knowledge. Discuss recent developments in cultural studies of science, particularly of the biosciences, biotechnology and biomedicine. Discuss new directions for medical anthropology that emerge from the joining of interpretive approaches, critical theory, and cultural studies of science.
  2. Discuss format and requirements of the class.

    SEPTEMBER 24: From Cyborgs & Citadels: Contemporary Wriging at the Interface of Medical Anthropology and Cultural Studies of Science

  1. Read and discuss recent articles that cross the boundaries between science studies and medical anthropology, including articles from a collection Joseph Dumit is editing, entitled Cyborgs & Citadels: Anthropological Interventions in Emerging Sciences, Technologies and Medicines. Raise questions about theoretical sources of these essays and implications of the theoretical positions taken.

From Cyborgs & Citadels:

  1. Downey, Gary & Joseph Dumit. "Introduction: Locating and Intervening"
  2. Rayna Rapp, "Real Time Fetus: The Role of the Sonogram in the Age of Monitored Reproduction"
  3. Martin, Emily, Laury Oaks, Karen-Sue Taussig, Ariane van der Straten, "AIDS, Knowledge and Discrimination in the Inner City: An Anthropological Analysis of the Experiences of Injection Drug Users"
  4. Heath, Deborah, "Bodies, Antibodies and Modest Interventions"
  5. Dumit, Joseph, "A Digital Image of the Category of the Person: PET Scanning and Objective Self-Fashioning"
  6. Haraway, Donna J., "Mice into Wormholes: A Comment on the Nature of No Nature"
  7. Mary-Jo DelVecchio Good. 1995. Cultural Studies of Biomedicine: An Agenda for Research. Social Science & Medicine 41:461-473.
  8. Franklin, Sarah. 1995. Science as culture, cultures of science. Annual Review of Anthropology 24:163-184.

OCTOBER 1: Competing Epistemologies, Competing Rationalities: Rationality, Relativism and Beyond

  1. Discuss why issues of epistemology are crucial for medical anthropology, with special reference to Medicine, Rationality and Experience.
  2. Review classic debates about the social construction of scientific knowledge in the sociology of science.
  3. Review recent critiques of these debates and suggestions for new directions for cultural studies of science. What questions do these raise for comparative studies of medical knowledge and practices?


  1. Good. 1994. Medicine, Rationality and Experience. Chs. 1-3,7.
  2. J. Hess, "If You're Thinking of Living in STS... A Guide for the Perplexed. Ms, from Cyborgs and Citadels.
  3. Woolgar. 1983. Irony in the Social Study of Science. In Karin Knorr-Cetina and Michael Mulkay, Science Observed, pp. 239-266.
  4. Joseph Rouse. 1992. What Are Cultural Studies of Scientific Knowledge? Configurations 1:1-22.
  5. Michael M.J. Fischer. 1991. Anthropology as Cultural Critique: Insert for the 1990s. Cultural Studies of Science, Visual-Virtual Realities, and Post-Trauma Polities. Cultural Anthropology 6:525-537.
  6. Sharon Traweek. 1993. An Introduction to Cultural and Social Studies of Sciences and Technologies. Culture, Medicine and Psychiatry 17:3-25.
  7. Latour. 1987. Science in Action. How to Follow Scientists and Engineers Through Society. Harvard University Press. Read Introduction: "Opening Pandora's Black Box" (pp. 1-17), and Ch. 5, "Tribunals of Reason" (pp. 179-213).
  8. Annemarie Mol. ms. Cutting Surgeons, Walking Patients. From Cultures of Biomedicine.


  1. Michael Mulkay and G. Nigel Gilbert. 1982. Joking Apart: Some Recommendations Concerning the Analysis of Scientific Culture. Social Studies of Science 12:585-613.
  2. Sperber. 1977. On Anthropological Knowledge. Cambridge: Cambridge Un. Press. Ch.3: The problem of irrational beliefs.
  3. Gilbert, G. Nigel, and Michael Mulkay. 1984. Opening Pandora's Box: A Sociological Analysis of Scientists' Discourse. Cambridge: Cambridge Un. Pr.
  4. Rouse, Joseph. 1987. Knowledge and Power: Toward a Political Philosophy of Science. Ithaca: Cornell UP.
  5. Robert D'Amico. 1989. Historicism and Knowledge. NY: Routledge.
  6. Putnam, Hilary.  1978.  The Many Faces of Realism. LaSalle, Ill.: Open Court.

OCTOBER 8: Epistemologies on the Boundaries of Believeability

  1. Discuss theoretical and practical issues associated with phenomena "on the boundaries of believeability": alien encounters and abduction, satanic ritual abuse, new age healing.
  2. Read parts of Eric Jacobson manuscript on alien encounters and abduction and discuss the development of counter sciences of credibility outside the academy.
  3. Discuss Simon Schaffer's From Physics to Anthropology--And Back Again on the historical relations in anthropology between scientific research methods and knowledge construction.


  1. Harding, Susan. 1991. Representing fundamentalism: the problem of the repugnant cultural other. (Culture and Politics). Social Research Summer 58:373.
  2. Dumit, Joseph. 1994 (ms). Objects of Discourse: The Logics of Seeking and the Persistence of the New Age.
  3. Certeau, Michel. 1985. What we do when we believe. In Blonsky M (ed.) On Signs. Oxford, UK: B. Blackwell.
  4. Jacobson. 1996 (ms). Alien Encounters: Narrative and Rationality in the Cultural Construction of Extraterrestrial Visitation. Ch. 6 The Rise of the Civilian UFO Research Movement. See also chs. 11-13 on alien abduction.
  5. Schaffer. 1994. From Physics to Anthropology -- And Back Again. Prickly Pear Pamphlet No. 3. Cambridge, U.K.


  1. Friedrich A Kittler. 1985. Discourse Networks 1800/1900. Stanford: Stanford University Press.
  2. Didier Deleule. 1992. The Living Machine: Psychology as Organology. In Incorporations, pp. 202-233.
  3. Hacking. 1995. Rewriting the Soul: Multiple Personality and the Sciences of Memory. Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press.
  4. Hess. 1991. Spirits and Scientists: Ideology, Spiritism, and Brazilian Culture. University Park, PA: Penn State UP.
  5. Hess. 1993. Science in the New Age: The Paranormal, Its Defenders and Debunkers, and American Culture. Madison: University of Wisconsin Press.

OCTOBER 15: Foundations for Interpretive Theories of Culture and Knowledge

Review the theoretical foundations for a theory of the symbolic ordering of reality and experience, including the Neo-Kantian (historicist) tradition and early American anthropology.


  1. Stocking, George.  1968.  Franz Boas and the Culture Concept in Historical Perspective.  In G Stocking, Race, Culture and Evolution.  NY: Free Press.  Pp. 195-233. 
  2. Whorf, Benjamin Lee.  1956.  Science and Linguistics.  In B Whorf, Language, Thought and Reality.  Cambridge:  MIT Press, pp. 207-219.  (Originally pub in Technol. Rev. 1940.)
  3. Hallowell, A. Irving. 1955. The Self and Its Behavioral Environment, and The Ojibwa Self and Its Behavioral Environment.  In Hallowell, Culture and Experience.  NY:  Schocken Books.  Pp. 75-110, 172-182.
  4. Cassirer, Ernst. 1955. The Philosophy of Symbolic Forms. Volume 1:  Language.  New Haven:  Yale Un. Pr.  (See "Introduction and Presentation of the Problem", pp. 73-114; see especially section 2, "Universal Function of the Sign.  The Problem of Meaning," and section 3, "The Problem of 'Representation' and the Structure of Consciousness.")
  5. Taylor, Charles. 1985. Human Agency and Language. Philosophical Papers Vol. I. Cambridge: Cambridge Un. Pr. Ch. 10. Theories of Meaning, pp. 248-292.
  6. Ricoeur, Paul. 1981. The Narrative Function. In Ricoeur, Hermeneutics & the Human Sciences. Cambridge Un Press, 274-296.
  7. Geertz, Clifford. 1983. Blurred Genres: The Refiguration of Social Thought. In Geertz, Local Knowledge: further Essays in Interpretive Anthropology. Basic Books, 19-35.

OCTOBER 22: The Lived Body: A Cultural Phenomenology of Healing

  1. Examine Csordas's understanding of the body as creative source of experience and the locus of healing.
  2. Examine conceptions of embodiment and the phenomenal 'world' in medical anthropology.


  1. Csordas, Thomas J. 1994. The Sacred Self: A Cultural Phenomenology of Charismatic Healing. (Berkeley: Un. of Calif. Press)

Suggested readings on phenomenology, illness and healing:

  1. Merleau-Ponty, M. 1962. Phenomenology of Perception. (See pp. vii-xxi and 136-147.) London: Routledge & Kegan Paul.
  2. Merleau-Ponty, M. 1968. The Intertwining--the Chiasm. In The Visible and the Invisible. Northwestern Un Pr. Ch. 4, pp. 130-155.
  3. Schutz, Alfred.  1971.  On Multiple Realities.  In A Schutz, Collected Papers:  Vol I, The Problem of Social Reality.  The Hague:  Martinus Nijhoff.  Pp. 207-259.
  4. Benner, Patricia, ed. 1994. Interpretive Phenomenology: Embodiment, Caring, and Ethics in Health and Illness. Sage.
  5. Csordas, Thomas J. 1990. Embodiment as a Paradigm for Anthropology. Ethos 18:5-47.
  6. Csordas, Thomas J., ed. 1994. Embodiment and Experience: The Existential Ground of Culture and Self. Cambridge Un. Press.
  7. Bourdieu, Pierre. 1990. Ch. 4. Belief and the Body. In The Logic of Practice. Stanford UP.
  8. Frank, Gelya. 1986. On Embodiment: A Case Study of Congenital Limb Deficiency in American Culture. Culture, Medicine & Psychiatry 10:189-220.
  9. Pandolfi, Mariella. 1990 Boundaries Inside the Body: Women's Sufferings in Southern Peasant Italy. Culture, Medicine and Psychiatry 14:255-273.
  10. Corin, Ellen. 1990. Facts and Meaning in Psychiatry. An Anthropological Approach to the Lifeworld of Schizophrenics. Culture, Medicine and Psychiatry 14:153-188.
  11. Byron, and Mary-Jo DelVecchio Good.  1981.  The Semantics of Medical Discourse.  In E Mendelsohn and Y Elkana, eds. Sciences and Cultures.  Sociology of the Sciences, Vol. V, Dordrecht: Reidel.  Pp. 177-212.
  12. Hallowell, A. Irving.  1976.  Ojibwa Ontology, Behavior, and World View (1960).  In R Fogelson et al, eds., Contributions to Anthropology; Selected Papers of A. Irving Hallowell.  Chicago:  Un of Chicago Pr.  Pp. 357-390. (book on reserve)
  13. Kaufman, Sharon R. 1988. Toward a Phenomenology of Boundaries in Medicine: Chronic Illness Experience in the Case of Stroke. MAQ 4:338-354.

OCTOBER 29: Ethnographic Writing On the Margins of Interpretive Theory

  1. Review ethnographic writing, relevant to medical anthropology, that expands the bases of interpretive theory or challenges such theory from the perspective of post-structuralism or critical theory.


  1. Desjarlais, Robert. 1995. Struggling Along: The Possibilities for Experience among the Homeless Mentally Ill. American Anthropologist 96:886-901.
  2. Kleinman, Arthur, and Joan Kleinman. 1991. Suffering and Its Professional Transformation: Toward an Ethnography of Interpersonal Experience. Culture, Medicine and Psychiatry 15:275-301.
  3. Khare, R.S. 1995. The Body, Sensoria, and Self of the Powerless: Remembering/"Re-Membering" Indian Untouchable Women. New Literary History 26:147-168.
  4. Harding. 1987. Convicted by the Holy Spirit: The Rhetoric of Fundamental Baptist Conversion. American Ethnologist 14:167-181.
  5. Taussig, Michael. 1987.  Shamanism, Colonialism and the Wild Man: A Study in Terror and Healing. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. Ch 7-9, 15-18.
  6. Favret-Saada, Jeanne. 1980. Deadly Words: Witchcraft in theBocage. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Ch 1-3, 5, Appendix 5.
  7. Stewart, Kathleen. 1991. On the politics of cultural theory: a case for "contaminated" cultural critique. (Culture and Politics). Social Research Summer 58:395.


  1. Favret-Saada, Jeanne. 1989. Unbewitching as therapy. (witchcraft in contemporary French countryside). American Ethnologist Feb 16:40.

NOVEMBER 5: On Signs: Semiotics to Poststructuralism

  1. Review historical and theoretical foundations for post-structuralist theories of the subject and the cultural studies tradition.
  2. Discuss the different relations posited between subjects and semiotic systems (e.g. subject in language, subject as effect of language, genetic subject, split subject).
  3. Discuss some feminist inflections of gendered and otherwise politicized subjects.


  1. Saussure, Ferdinand de. 1974. Course in general linguistics. London: Fontana. Intro Ch. 2,3,5. Part I: Ch. 1,2.
  2. Jakobson, Roman. 1985. Dear Claude, Cher Maitre. In Blonsky M (ed.) On Signs. Oxford, UK: B. Blackwell.
  3. Jakobson, Roman, and Morris Halle. 1975. Fundamentals of language. The Hague: Mouton. (selection).
  4. Lacan, Jacques. 1977. The Mirror Stage. In Ecrits. A Selection. London. Tavistock.
  5. Grosz, Elizabeth A.. 1990. Ch. 2: The Ego and the Imaginary. In Jacques Lacan: A feminist Introduction. New York: Routledge.
  6. Derrida, Jacques. Structure Sign and Play in the Discourse of the Human Sciences (with discussion). In Macksey R & Donato E (eds.) The Structuralist Controversy. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press. Plus preface to book.
  7. Barthes, Roland. 1972. World of Wrestling. and Myth Today. In Mythologies. New York: Noonday Press.
  8. Lauretis, Teresa. 1984. Ch 6: Semiotics and Experience. In Alice Doesn't: Feminism, Semiotics, Cinema. Bloomington: Indiana University Press.
  9. Haraway, Donna. 1992. When Man(tm) is On the Menu. In Incorporations, pp. 36-42.
  10. Sedgewick, Eve Kosofsky (1992) Epidemics of the Will. In Incorporations. New York: Zone, pp. 582-595.


  1. Greimas, A.-J.. 1983 (1966). Structural Semantics: An Attempt at a Method. Lincoln: U Nebraska Press.
  2. Jameson, Frederic. 1987. Forward. In A.-J. Greimas, On Meaning: Selected Writings in Semiotic Theory. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.
  3. Grosz, Elizabeth A.. 1989. Sexual Subversions: Three French Feminists. Winchester, Mass.: Unwin Hyman.
  4. Hawkes, Terrance. Structuralism and Semiotics.
  5. Virilio, Paul. 1992. Aliens. In Incorporations, pp. 446-449.
  6. Eco, Umberto. 1979. A theory of semiotics. Bloomington: Indiana University Press.
  7. Levi-Strauss, Claude. 1963. Structural anthropology. New York: Basic Books.

NOVEMBER 12: Cultural Studies of the Body, Ideology and Identity

  1. Review competing theories of ideology and subjectivity in relation to cultural studies and mass media.
  2. Examine contemporary attempts to account for the "ideology" of science and discuss on their value for medical anthropology.


  1. Foucault, Michel. 1980. The Confession of the Flesh. In Foucault, Power/Knowledge: Selected Interviews and Other Writings 1972-1977. NY: Princeton.
  2. Zizek, Slavoj. 1994. The Spectre of Ideology. In S Zizek (ed.): Mapping Ideology. London: Verso.
  3. Stuart. 1996. On postmodernism and Articulation: An Interview with Stuart Hall, edited by Lawrence Grossberg. In D Morley & K-H Chen (eds.), Stuart Hall: Critical Dialogues in Culural Studies.
  4. Stuart. 1996. Cultural Studies and the Politics of Internationalization: An interview with Stuart Hall, by Kuan-Hsing Chen. In D Morley & K-H Chen (eds.), Stuart Hall: Critical Dialogues in Culural Studies.
  5. Krieger, Nancy, and Mary Bassett. 1994. The Health of Black Folk: Disease, Class and Ideology in Science. In "Racial" Economy of Science, pp. 161-169.
  6. Proctor, Robert. 1994. Nazi Medicine and the Politics of Knowledge. In "Racial" Economy of Science, pp. 344-358.
  7. Treichler, Paula A.. 1991. How to Have Theory in an Epidemic: The Evolution of AIDS Treatment Activism. In C Penley & A Ross (ed.): Technoculture. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, pp. 57-106.
  8. Mary-Jo DelVecchio, T. Munakata, Y. Kobayashi, C. Matingly, B.J. Good. 1994. Oncology and Narrative Time. Social Science and Medicine 38(6):855-862.
  9. Shohat, Ella. 1992. Lasers-For-Ladies - Endo Discourse And The Inscriptions Of Science (The Realization Of Endometriosis As A Real Disease). Camera Obscura N29:57+.


  1. Althusser. Ideological State Apparatuses. In S Zizek (ed.): Mapping Ideology. London: Verso.
  2. Lyotard, Jean Francois (1984) The Postmodern Condition: A Report on Knowledge. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.
  3. Baudrillard, Jean, and Charles Levin. 1981. For a critique of the political economy of the sign. St. Louis, Mo.: Telos Press.
  4. Gilroy, Paul. 1987. "There ain't no black in the Union Jack": the cultural politics of race and nation. London: Hutchinson.
  5. Stepan, Nancy Leys and Sander L. Gilman. 1994. Appropriating the Ideoms of Science: The Rejection of Scientific Racism. In "Racial" Economy of Science, pp. 170-200.
  6. Morley, D & K-H Chen, eds. Stuart Hall: Critical Dialogues in Culural Studies. NY: Routledge.

NOVEMBER 19: Narrativity, Justice and Bodies

  1. Review theories of narrativity in relation to experience, storytelling and history.
  2. Discuss strategies for writing about narratives with examples from medical anthropology including political disasters (Bhopal) and personal crises (cancer).


  1. Veena. 1993. Moral Orientations to Suffering: Legitimation, Power, and Healing. In L.C. Chen, A. Kleinman, and N.C. Ware, eds. Health and Social Change in International Perspective. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
  2. Veena. 1995. Suffering, Legitimacy and Healing: The Bhopal Case. In Das, Critical Events: An Anthropological Perspective on Contemporary India, pp. 137-174. (Delhi, Oxford University Press)
  3. Laughlin, Kim. Excavating Bhopal. (manuscript)
  4. Grossman, Karl. 1994. Environmental Racism. In "Racial" Economy of Science, pp. 326-339.
  5. Good, Byron. 1994. Medicine, Rationality and Experience. Chs. 4-6.
  6. Byron & Mary-Jo DelVecchio Good. ms. Stories, Rounds and Clinical Reasoning: Narrative Dimensions of Medical Practice.
  7. Mattingly, Cheryl. 1994. The Concept of Therapeutic 'Emplotment'. Social Science and Medicine 38:811-822.
  8. White, Hayden. 1978. Interpretation in History. In Tropics of Discourse: Essays in Cultural Criticism. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press.
  9. Rayna. 1995. Heredity, or: Revising the Facts of Life. In Sylvia Yanagisako and Carol Delaney, eds. Naturalizing Power: Essays in Feminist Cultural Analysis. NY: Routledge.
  10. Pandolfi, Mariella. 1990. Boundaries Inside the Body: Women's Sufferings in Southern Peasant Italy. Culture, Medicine and Psychiatry 14:255-273.


  1. Roe, Emery. 1994. Narrative Policy Analysis: Theory and Practice. Durham: Duke University Press.

NOVEMBER 26: Postcolonial Bodies Distributed and Produced

  1. Discuss the political economy of international biomedicine with regard to medical anthropology and critical cultural studies.
  2. Examine theories of subjectivity and experience as part of material circuits and knowledge circulation.
  3. Discuss the implications of distributed fieldsites for contemporary medical anthroplogy.


  1. Das. 1996. The Practice of Organ Transplants: Gift, Sale, Theft? In Cultures of Biomedicine (ms).
  2. Farmer, Paul. 1996. On Suffering and Structural Violence: A View from Below. In Arthur Kleinman, Veena Das, and Margaret Lock, eds. Social Suffering. Special issue of Daedelus, Winter 1996, 125(1): 261-283.
  3. Stone, Allucquere Roseanne. 1992. Virtual Systems. In Incorporations, pp. 608-625.
  4. Rabinow, Paul. 1992. Artificiality and Enlightenment: From Sociobiology to Biosociality. In Incorporations, pp. 190-201.
  5. Goonatilake, Susantha. 1994. Modern Science and the Periphery: The Characteristics of Dependent Knowledge. In "Racial" Economy of Science, pp. 259-273.
  6. Levins, Richard and Richard Lewontin. 1994. Applied Biology in the Third World: The Struggle for Revolutionary Science. In "Racial" Economy of Science, pp. 315-325.
  7. Bunkle, Phillida. 1994. Calling the Shots? The International Politics of Depo-Provera. In "Racial" Economy of Science, pp. 287-302.
  8. Jones, James. 1994. The Tuskegee Syphilis Experiment: "A Moral Astigmatism". In "Racial" Economy of Science, pp. 275-286.
  9. Marcus, George E. 1995. Ethnography in/of the world system: the emergence of multi-sited ethnography. Annual Review of Anthropology 24:95-117.


  1. Mauss, Marcel. Techniques of the Body. In Incorporations.
  2. Canguilhem, Georges. Machine and Organism. In Incorporations.
  3. Rabinbach, Anson. Neurasthenia and Modernity. In Incorporations.
  4. Varela, Francisco. The Reenchantment of the Concrete. In Incorporations.
  5. Sagan, Dorion. Metametazoa: Biology and Multiplicity. In Incorporations.

DECEMBER 3: Ethnography of Contemporary Biotech Research

  1. Read Paul Rabinow's ethnography of a biotech firm and the invention of a process that is crucial to contemporary research in molecular biology.
  2. Critically review the theoretical moves most often implicit in the book. Reflect on these in relation to the ethnographic literature on bioscience research and the theoretical approaches examined in the course.


  1. Rabinow, Paul. 1996. Making PCR: A Story of Biotechnology. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
  2. Rabinow, Paul. ms. American Moderns: On Sciences and Scientists. From Cultures of Biomedicine.


  1. Latour, Bruno, and Steve Woolgar. 1979. Laboratory Life: The Social Construction of Scientific Facts. Beverly Hills: Sage Publications.
  2. Latour, Bruno. 1987. Science in Action. Cambridge: Harvard University Press.
  3. Latour, Bruno. 1993. We Have Never Been Modern. Cambridge: Harvard University Press.
  4. Dubinskas, Frank A., ed. 1988. Making Time: Ethnographies of High-Technology Organizations. Philadelphia: Temple University Press.
  5. Martin, Emily. 1994. Flexible Bodies: Tracking Immunity in American Culture From the Days of Polio to the Age of AIDS. Boston: Beacon Press.
  6. Canguilhem, Georges. 1989. The Normal and the Pathological. NY: Zone Books.

DECEMBER 10: Making PTSD: Clinical Research and the Constitution of Psychiatric Knowledge

  1. Read Allan Young's ethnography of clinical research and the "invention" of post-traumatic stress disorder.
  2. Critically review the theoretical moves made in the book, in the context of the literature read in the course.


  1. Young, Allan. 1995. The Harmony of Illusions: Inventing Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. Princeton: Princeton University Press.
  2. Dumit, Joseph. ms. When Explanations Rest: "Good-enough" Brain Science and the New Biomental Disorders. From Cultures of Biomedicine.
  3. Eisenberg, Leon. 1995. The Social Construction of the Human Brain. American J of Psychiatry 152: 1563-1575.

DECEMBER 17: Conclusions

  1. Review the course, final discussions and reflections, discussion of student projects.