Syllabus - Mansfield University Department of Social Work...

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Mansfield University Department of Social Work, Sociology, & Anthropology Fall 2010 ANH 2995-01 Medical Anthropology 3 semester credits INSTRUCTOR Dr. Robert L. Clark OFFICE 207 Pinecrest PHONE (570)662-4482 E-MAIL [email protected] HOURS Tuesdays 1-3, Wednesdays 5-6, Thursdays 1-3 Catalog Description: A broad overview of medical anthropology, including cultural analyses of health and disease, the social construction of sickness and health, and both Western (biomedical) and non-Western systems of healing. Addresses the cultural issues relevant to sickness and health care by exploring how the lens of medical anthropology may be used to understand culturally specific responses to life processes universal to all human societies. Topics include cross-cultural approaches to symbol and ritual, shamanism and spiritual forms of healing, the social construction of sickness and health, mental illness, and the health problems related to globalization. Prerequisites & Notes: ENG-1112 recommended. Credits: 3 cr. General Education Requirement: Global Awareness, Social Sciences, Writing Course Description: Medical Anthropology is a broad sub-discipline of anthropology. Through this course, you will gain a greater understanding of cultural issues relevant to sickness and health care. The class consists of a broad overview of medical anthropology, including cultural analyses of health and disease, the social construction of sickness and health, and both western (biomedical) and non-western systems of healing. We will explore how the lens of medical anthropology may be used understand social responses to both specific pathologies and life processes universal to all human societies. Anthropologists characterize culture as adaptive to specific physical and biological realties: culture walks hand- in-hand with nature, both adapting to and elaborating upon it. In this course, we will examine how different societies have used culture to adapt human physiological needs and vulnerabilities to different biological conditions and social and economic ecologies. We will learn how to analyze non-western, possibly unfamiliar forms of medical practice as internally logical and coherent systems of belief. During this endeavor, we will also examine the cultural assumptions of Western biomedicine, an approach to the body that is familiar to all of us who have ever gone to see a doctor or visited a hospital! The class will examine the peculiar ways in which Western biomedicine understands health, illness, body, and mind; how these constructions reflect important beliefs about what it means to be an individual in contemporary America; and finally, how biomedicine articulates with other social institutions and systems of belief. We will also explore the cultural misunderstandings which may occur when biomedicine intersects with non-western medical systems.
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