Medical Anthropology

  • GMS MA 605: History of Medicine and Healing in the United States
    This course explores the history of medical and therapeutic pluralism in the United States, beginning with the colonial period and continuing to the present. We will examine how this pluralism necessarily includes the story of American religious pluralism, the rise of biomedicine, and the changing faces of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM), while factoring in the roles of class, race, and gender. We will work with primary source materials, as well as sources from history of medicine, and medical anthropology. 4 cr, Spring sem. M 2:30-5:15, Charles River Campus.
  • GMS MA 610: Reading Ethnography in Medical Anthropology
    [Not currently offered] This seminar will read medical anthropological ethnographies analytically. Starting with a review of the debates, going through selected classic ethnographic studies, the seminar will explore ethnographies that address different cultural meanings of human experiences of suffering and affliction, including illness and violence. Students will engage in studying the methodology, theoretical underpinnings, writing, and social positions represented in these ethnographies. 3 cr, Fall sem.
  • GMS MA 622: Religion, Culture and Public Health
    This medical anthropology course will explore relationships between religion, culture, and health in the context of public health projects. We will examine historical developments, examples of faith-based public health organizations, and current research on "religious health assets," both locally and internationally. Students will design and conduct qualitative research projects on the culture of a faith-based health organization. 3 cr, Fall sem Th 3:30-6:15, Charles River Campus.
  • GMS MA 624: Anthropology of Immigrant Health
    This course will examine key areas in the study of immigrant and migrant health, drawing on concepts, methods, and theories developed by medical anthropology. We will explore intersections between health care and immigration policy, access to services, practiced characterized as "cultural competency," the contests and collaborations within medical pluralism, segmented acculturation, and the politics of "illegal status" as a form of social regulation. We will also employ ethnographic analyses of those processes that exacerbate the structural vulnerability of immigrants (whether undocumented or not) to ill-health, and discuss case examples of advocacy- and community-based initiatives that have improved immigrants' access to social services and their overall well-being in their social and health landscapes. 3 cr, Fall sem Th 3:30-6:15, Charles River Campus.
  • GMS MA 630: Medical Anthropology and the Cultures of Biomedicine
    This course examines biomedicine as a cultural system with multiple local and national expressions worldwide, all of which have undergone changes over time. Topics will include the exploration of biomedicine as a cultural system, with cultural variations and different conceptual domains; processes of acculturation to biomedicine, the medicalization of social realities; biomedical narratives; the patient-doctor relationship (including when the physician is the patient); understandings of interventions and the meanings assigned to them; and different ways of thinking about efficacy in relation to process and chronicity. The course will draw on ethnographic studies of biomedicine not only in the United States, but in other global settings. 3 cr, Spring sem. M 2:30-5:15, Charles River Campus.
  • GMS MA 640: The Cultural Formation of the Clinician: Its Implications for Practice
    This course provides a context for exploring and reflecting on one's own cultural formation, in relation to aspects of one's identity like gender, sexual orientation, social class, race, immigration, religion, age, mental health and addiction, and disabilities. Unearned social privilege, and related blind spots toward these parts of our identities, have been shown to increase risks for related health disparities and problematic research findings. The course examines how our unconscious biases can enter our work as care providers or researchers. Offered through M.S. program in Medical Anthropology. 3 cr, Fall sem. T 5:00-7:50, Medical Campus.
  • GMS MA 650: Culture and Politics of Health Care Work
    This medical anthropology course examines the history, culture, and politics that shape health care work and organizations. Beginning with the notion of "competencies" in biomedical training, this course examines the models of professional enculturation and competition in established and emerging health professions. The course will focus on the conceptual and embodied formation of knowledge, skills, attitudes, and collaboration between professional and nonprofessional caregivers; examining in particular the discourse of "cultural competence." Readings include autobiographical and ethnographic accounts of healthcare professionals, staff, and family caregivers. Students conduct qualitative interviews with a variety of health care workers to analyze specific cultural and political contexts of care and health professional education. 3 cr, Spring sem. Th 3:30-6:15, Charles River Campus.
  • GMS MA 670: Power and Health in Latin America and the Caribbean
    The aim of this course is to examine the socio-political, economic, historical and public health dimensions that have promoted or jeopardized people's wellbeing in Latin America and the Caribbean. This course will introduce students to historical and contemporary debates around the right to health in this region. We will explore the origin and theoretical foundations of the social movement known as Latin American Social Medicine (LASM) and the historical role it has played in promoting health and advancing the right to health in Latin America. Students will explore the political economy of health theory, and the theoretical frameworks of critical medical anthropology and of LASM to study health and disease. Ethnographies and accompanying articles from various disciplines will guide a critical exploration of the connections between health disparities, social justice, and health as a human right in the region. 3 cr, Fall sem. Th 12:30-3:15, Charles River Campus
  • GMS MA 676: Special Topics in Medical Anthropology: Program Evaluation for Social Sciences
    This course will examine different approaches to applying the tools and methods of anthropology to evaluating programs. Evaluation anthropology takes an integrated approach that examines meanings of program efficacy and effectiveness, in the context of cultural systems that change over time and space. As Mary Odell Butler has asked, "How can we establish useful statements of program value given the complex contexts in which programs are implemented? How can we arrive at evaluation results induced from variable manifestations of program concepts in complex cultural systems?" 3 cr, Fall sem. M 5-7:45, Medical Campus
  • GMS MA 677: Special Topics in Medical Anthropology: Epidemiology for Social Scientists
    This seminar focuses on selected issues in medical anthropology. This semester, the course will introduce epidemiologic theories and methods to students who are in the social sciences and humanities. The course seeks to systematically analyze the field of epidemiology and how the discipline is leveraged in a spectrum of health arenas. We will examine core topics and concepts such as causality, associations, confounding and interactions, as well as review epidemiologic study designs, as a way to critically engage with the epidemiologic activity of quantitative analysis toward specific public health aims and objectives. Students will be encouraged to approach epidemiologic methods and theories with a critical eye toward recognizing the assumptions, disciplinary power and actions that epidemiologists take to achieve their mission and vision for health and wellbeing. 3 cr, Spring sem. T 12:30-3:15, Charles River Campus.
  • GMS MA 678: Reproductive Anthropology
    As a field within medical anthropology, Reproductive Anthropology can encompass all aspects of human reproduction and sexual/reproductive health, including: adolescent sexuality, fertility, contraception, pregnancy, abortion, birthing, adoption, breastfeeding, the health needs of LGBTQ communities, assisted reproductive technologies, masculinity & male infertility, reproductive health care in and across various care settings and in varying sociocultural and political-economic contexts locally, nationally, and internationally, the roles of race, class, gender, and nationality in all of the above, and many other topics. Any issue, practice, illness, trend, or debate that combines human behavior and reproductive health or ability is fertile ground for anthropological examination from evolutionary, biocultural, and critical-medical perspectives. 3 cr ., Spring sem. Th 12:30-3:15, Charles River Campus. .
  • GMS MA 679: Syndemics: An Interdisciplinary Concept in BioSocial Health
    The term syndemic labels the synergistic interaction of two or more co- existing diseases or conditions that results from structural inequality, and that produces an excess burden of disease, thereby increasing suffering. Syndemics research emphasizes the interplay between human behavior, structural conditions, health, and policy that elevates the overall burden of disease in a population. A major contribution of medical anthropology and a particular focus of the CDC, epidemiologists, and clinicians, syndemics provides an important tool for researchers and providers alike. This seminar typically begins with an overview of the field of syndemics, and culminates with a focused exploration of a new or emerging syndemic which the class works collaboratively to identify and further develop for publication. 3 cr.
  • GMS MA 680: Culture, Migration, and Mental Health
    This medical anthropology course explores the ways in which mental health and illness are constructed by and for those who migrate across national, cultural, and other borders. We will examine the historical development of the fields of psychology, psychiatry, and social work in the context of Western societies, in parallel with the anthropological study of ritual, violence, ecstatic and possession experiences in non-Western societies. We will then explore debates in cross-cultural mental health care that bring these historical disciplines into dialogue, particularly in the context of programs for the treatment of refugee and immigrant mental health. The intersection of political, economic, religious, and gender issues in the construction of mental health will also be considered. 3 cr, Spring sem. Th 3:30-6:15, Charles River Campus.
  • GMS MA 691: Directed Study in Medical Anthropology
    Undergraduate Prerequisites: Permission of instructor
    Graduate Prerequisites: consent of instructor
    To be arranged with the instructor. Var cr, Fall & SSI sem.
  • GMS MA 692: Directed Study in Medical Anthropology
    Graduate Prerequisites: consent of instructor
    To be arranged with the instructor. Var cr, Spring & SSII sem.
  • GMS MA 700: History and Theory of Medical Anthropology (Part I)
    This course introduces the history of the field of medical anthropology and of theoretical orientations related to understanding and analyzing health and medicine in society and culture. Readings will exemplify interpretive strategies applied to health-related experiences, discourse, knowledge, and practice. 3 cr, Fall sem. M 1:00-4:00, Medical Campus.
  • GMS MA 701: History and Theory of Medical Anthropology (Part II)
    This course, offered by Medical Anthropology and Cross Cultural Practice, will address theoretical traditions in medical anthropology, focusing on orientations developed and applied within the field over the past two decades to interpretations of health-related phenomena. 3 cr, Spring sem. M 10:00-12:50, Medical Campus.
  • GMS MA 708: Service Learning Internship (Pt. 1)
    For this internship, students will arrange a volunteer project with the group or community with whom they plan to conduct their fieldwork. The purpose of the practicum is to initiate the process of engagement in Community-Based Participatory Research design.
  • GMS MA 709: Service Learning Internship (Pt. 2)
    For this practicum, students will continue working on their a volunteer project with the group or community with whom they plan to conduct their fieldwork. The purpose of the practicum is to initiate the process of engagement in Community-Based Participatory Research design.
  • GMS MA 710: Medical Anthropology and Qualitative Research Methods and Design
    Introduction to methodology for ethnographic field research in medical anthropology, and qualitative research methods. This course, offered by Medical Anthropology and Cross Cultural Practice, examines issues in designing anthropological research, and reviews theoretical approaches to research ethics, designing research, framing questions and questionnaire design, and data collection techniques. 3 cr, Fall sem. W 10:00-1:50, Medical Campus.