Medical Anthropology

Medical anthropology examines how cultural, historical, economic, and political forces shape ideas about health, wellness, illness, and disease. It studies how these forces influence health disparities, healthcare seeking, health related practices and perceptions of risk, the structure of medical systems, and more. Attentive to the afflicted, their caregivers, and those who create knowledge and values about health and illness in their many forms, medical anthropology is capacious in its approach, using methods and materials from all anthropological subfields and numerous scholarly disciplines.

The Medical Anthropology Concentration at the University of Arizona is built on over three decades of engaged scholarship. Founded by Dr. Mark Nichter in 1989, the medical anthropology program has grown into a nationally-recognized hub for critical studies of medicine in the US and abroad, including established research on political ecology and global health. Our current faculty extend this foundational work through research emphases in reproductive technologies, clinical and laboratory ethnography, surgical practice, evolutionary and embodied approaches to health disparities, transgender studies, medical expertise, nutrition, environmental health, and science and technology studies. Students enrolled in the Medical Anthropology Concentration will develop a strong theoretical foundation that will shape and guide research projects set around the globe. The Medical Anthropology Concentration is available to students enrolled in graduate studies in the School of Anthropology at the University of Arizona.

The concentration requires 12 credit hours of training in medical anthropology composed of

  • a) ANTH 536 and ANTH 571 (3 credits each);
  • b) one approved graduate seminar in medical anthropology (3 credits) relevant to the student’s research interests
  • c) an independent study (3 credits) in which the student produces a research report based on primary or secondary research, a grant proposal deemed competitive for funding, or a publishable paper on which they are a sole author or co-author.

For inquiries about the Medical Anthropology concentration, please contact Dr. Eric Plemons.