ANTHRCUL 458 - Topics in Sociocultural and Linguistic Anthropology
Winter 2017, Section 001 - The Globalization of Biomedicine
Instruction Mode: Section 001 is (see other Sections below)
Subject: Anthropology, Cultural (ANTHRCUL)
Department: LSA Anthropology
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Waitlist Capacity:
With permission of instructor.
Advisory Prerequisites:
Junior and above.
May be repeated for a maximum of 6 credit(s). May be elected more than once in the same term.
Primary Instructor:


When scholars and practitioners invoke the term “global health,” they usually mean the delivery of allopathic medicine (“biomedicine” or “Western medicine”) in low-resource parts of the globe. A fundamental assumption beneath this is that medicine is a universal good, and simply requires clever delivery for places with messy logistics. Is this assumption true, or can biomedicine also be conceived as a “culture” – as a set of values, practices and understandings that emerge out of a particular place and moment in history? Can medicine’s technologies be separated from its ethics, symbols, economies, experiences of the body, and politics? What happens when biomedical “culture” runs up against other ways of viewing the world?

In this course, we will attempt to answer these questions. To do so, we will address debates in several areas of scholarship and popular media. First, we will touch on the nature of biomedicine, attempting to understand in which ways it can be described as a “culture” or alternative social phenomenon. Second, we will explore anthropological work on the nature of globalization, on what happens as systems of thought travel and “encounter” one another. Finally, we will explore ethnographies that show how particular aspects of biomedicine (specifically, its categories, technologies, ethics, politics and truth-claims) are affected by travel and encounters with other cultures. The ultimate goal, culminating in a final paper for the course, will be for each student to synthesize her or his view about the nature of the “encounter” between biomedicine and other worldviews, and how this view affects what kinds of practical engagements one should have when practicing “global health.”


ANTHRCUL 458 - Topics in Sociocultural and Linguistic Anthropology
Schedule Listing
001 (SEM)
 In Person
W 3:00PM - 6:00PM
002 (SEM)
 In Person
MW 10:00AM - 11:30AM
004 (SEM)
 In Person
M 4:00PM - 7:00PM
Note: Meets with History 445/594

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