Medical Anthropology: Theoretical Trajectories, Emergent Realities

Spring 2012

Tuesdays, 1-3 pm
William James Hall (Harvard)
Room 401
33 Kirkland Street, Cambridge


This course explores the history of medical anthropology and approaches this subfield of social and cultural anthropology as a set of competing and complementary theoretical perspectives that have broad albeit distinctive trajectories as well as methodologies. We will approach many of these perspectives through reading literature linked across the decades, through mapping genealogies and generations of scholars and schools engaged in creating the subfield and developing these distinctive theoretical positions, and through identifying and reviewing various generative and at times notorious debates and contestations. Although much of our focus will be on the literature and ethnographies produced by those educated within schools of North American medical anthropology, we will look too at cross national exchanges and influences, historical differences between diverse European and North American traditions of both anthropological theory and medical anthropology, "the global flows" of discourses, explorations and engagements, as well as collaborations including in field work that characterize so much of anthropology today. Our goal is to encourage seminar participants to generate conversations that address historical contexts and temporalities as well as diverse boundaries. We will begin with close readings drawn from a core of foundational texts (reproduced in our Reader in Medical Anthropology) and expand outward to selected readings (on website and on reserve) to begin our exploration of not only genealogies but also debates and divides, stances and positionings, and intellectual "productions" including films, blogs, unpublished reports, and diverse forms of knowledge and influences.

Professors Byron Good, Mary-Jo DelVecchio Good (Harvard) and Michael M.J. Fischer (MIT)

Register for 12 units in
STS.S91 Special Subject: Science, Technology and Society.
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
MIT STS
Building E51-185
617-253-4062
stsprogram@mit.edu