Medical Anthropology Concentration

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 Medical Anthropology Concentration is directed by Dr. Eric Plemons. Additional core faculty members include Drs. Linda Green, Ivy Pike, Megan Carney, and Janelle Lamoreaux.

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.

Required Courses
ANTH 536 Anthropology of the Body, Health, and Illness
This seminar introduces students to major questions and traditions of scholarship in medical anthropology.

ANTH 571 Medical Anthropology in Clinical and Community Contexts
Emphasizing practical and applied research skills, this course equips students with methodological tools for collecting and analyzing anthropological data in clinical and community fieldsites.

Elective Courses May Include
ANTH XXX Sex, Gender, Science, Medicine
This seminar engages with historical and contemporary literature that explores the co-creation of the authoritative discourses of sex, gender, science and medicine to understand the circumstances that shape current understandings of sex and gender as objects of knowledge and targets of biomedical intervention.    

ANTH XXX Reproducing the Environment
At the intersection of environmental and reproductive studies, this class explores how the gender of nature and the nature of gender are being rearranged and reimagined by contemporary activist movements and scientific practices through interdisciplinary readings.

ANTH XXX Anthropology of Science
An introduction to anthropological approaches to science and technology studies, this class emphasizes the ways in which ethnographic methods and classic anthropological questions related to power, knowledge and cultural practice inform contemporary social studies of science.

ANTH XXX Political Economics of Health
This seminar applies a political economic analysis to the delivery and development of healthcare on a global scale, including the comparative and critical study of healthcare systems, insurance, innovation, global capital, international development, and humanitarian institutions.

ANTH 538A Women’s Health in Global Perspective
Foundational to this seminar is the understanding that global inequalities, including gender inequality and poverty shape women’s health experiences in profound and intricate ways. The theoretical tools to understand these processes includes transnational feminism, structural vulnerability, and the synergism between biological and social phenomenon.

ANTH 545B Embodying Inequality
This interdisciplinary seminar examines how adversity gets under the skin. In order to achieve this goal, the course builds a framework that draws on anthropological perspectives on embodiment, social epidemiology, neurosciences, and human evolutionary biology, to examine how the social environments shape health disparities across the globe.

ANTH 675A Anthropology and Global Health
This course provides an intensive overview of the field of global health and anthropologists' contributions to it. Topics may include: responses to biotechnology; primary health care and child survival; diseases and development; health care utilization patterns; world systems and multinational pharmaceutical industry; health care bureaucracies; interaction between traditional medicine and public health, and more.

Students may fulfill the concentration requirements with other elective courses in the School of Anthropology or other departments on campus. The Director of the Concentration must approve all courses taken for credit toward the concentration that do not appear on this list.

Medical Anthropology Postgraduate Certificate
Those not enrolled in the Anthropology graduate program at University of Arizona who desire advanced training in Medical Anthropology may seek a postgraduate certificate. This option may be useful for graduate students in other departments or schools on campus (e.g., College of Public Health, College of Nursing, etc) as well as health science professionals and social scientists from universities that do not offer specialized training in Medical Anthropology. The Postgraduate Certificate in Medical Anthropology requires the completion of 12 credit hours. These include 9 hours of coursework (see course list and conditions above) and a three-credit research project resulting in a publishable paper or defendable grant proposal.

(Drafted March 8, 2017)