j_harper_APA_IP1 - T he concept of health is open to...

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The concept of “health” is open to differing interpretations’ (Curtis, 2004, p. 2). It can mean ‘the presence or absence of diagnosed diseases’, but also many different dimensions potentially contributing to the corporeal, emotional and social well-being of people in their everyday lives. Gesler and Kearns (2002, pp. 30–2) discuss ‘cultures of health’, identifying the explanatory models deployed by different people (e.g. experts contra lay people) and drawing inspiration from ‘ethnomedicine’ as the study of how such models (and their deeper cultural, religious, cosmological moorings) vary from place to place. Additionally, assumptions about health clearly vary within places according to class, ethnicity, gender and other markers of social difference (Lewis, Dyck and McLafferty, 2001). Acknowledging such variability in health beliefs suggests an approach to a geography of health that squares with recent shifts in the sub- discipline of medical geography. Indeed, some argue that medical geography should be widened
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to include not just health defined through the lenses of Western biomedicine, casting health in the negative sense of not being physically or mentally ‘ill’, but rather in the broader sense indicated above, of health as well-being. This orientation demands a holistic focus on the great variability of the human condition, commonly at
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j_harper_APA_IP1 - T he concept of health is open to...

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