Health, Healing and Culture: An Introduction to Medical Anthropology (in English)

Universidad Pablo de Olavide

Course Description

  • Course Name

    Health, Healing and Culture: An Introduction to Medical Anthropology (in English)

  • Host University

    Universidad Pablo de Olavide

  • Location

    Seville, Spain

  • Area of Study

    Anthropology, European Studies, Global Health

  • Language Level

    Taught In English

  • Course Level Recommendations


    ISA offers course level recommendations in an effort to facilitate the determination of course levels by credential evaluators.We advice each institution to have their own credentials evaluator make the final decision regrading course levels.

    Hours & Credits

  • Contact Hours

  • Recommended U.S. Semester Credits
  • Recommended U.S. Quarter Units
  • Overview

    This English-language course is an introduction to medical anthropology, emphasizing the
    literature on health and healing in different cultures. The objectives of the course are to
    understand health and healing in social and cultural context, to compare health, illness and
    healing in different cultures, and to introduce the theoretical orientations and basic concepts
    of medical anthropology. Readings illustrate the different theoretical orientations used by
    medical anthropologists and explore topics such as mental health and illness, healers and
    healing, disease etiologies, health seeking behavior, child birth across cultures and practical
    uses for medical anthropology in health care settings. Case studies from Italy, North America,
    Africa, Europe and Latin America illustrate key concepts.

    Classes will be held twice a week for 80 minutes. Coursework is comprised of lectures, videos,
    outside readings and short written assignments, as well as a number of in-class discussions
    exploring the role of culture in health and healing.

    Students will be evaluated on their ability to articulate and critically apply the terms, concepts
    and theories from class and readings verbally, during class discussions, as well as in writing, on
    exams and in written assignments. The final grade for the course is compromised of the
    Participation 20%
    Focus Essays 20%
    Midterm Exam 30%
    Final Exam 30%

    Participation: As many students learn best through interacting with peers and discussing
    information from class and readings, this course includes a number of class sessions devoted
    to discussion. Students will be expected to listen attentively to others´ views, respectfully
    express their own and make meaningful and active contributions to class discussions and
    lectures. Your participation is scored during each discussion; as such, being absent from class
    on a day in which a discussion is scheduled will incur a 0 for that day?s discussion. Sessions in
    which a discussion has been scheduled have been shaded.

    In Focus Discussions (10%): These short discussions are designed to help students
    think critically about, and articulate, key concepts.
    Discussion Sessions (10%): These longer discussions (there are two) are structured
    around the book ?The Spirit Catches you and you Fall Down?. Students are given a list
    of discussion questions beforehand that they should reflect upon before arriving to
    class on the day that a discussion is held and should be prepared to contribute

    Focus Essays: These four short, formal analytical essays provide students the opportunity to
    articulate and apply, through writing, key terms and concepts from the course. Focus Essays
    are 3-5 pages in length, 1.5 spaced, with 12pt Times New Roman font. Each essay should
    contain a Bibliography of academic source materials. Essays will be evaluated not only by the
    student?s ability to critically apply terms and concepts from the course, but also by the tenets
    and principles of formal academic writing and Standard English usage.
    Each essay must be submitted electronically prior to the start of class on the day that it is due. Late
    assignments will receive a .50 penalty (e.g., from 9.0 to 8.5) on the first day and another .50
    penalty on the second. Assignments will not be accepted after 2 days.
    Midterm and Final Exams: The exams will include a mixture of multiple choice, True/False,
    short answer and short essay questions. Students must demonstrate that they have mastered
    the theories, concepts and terms from lecture, class discussions, videos and readings.

    Required textbook(s):
    - Brown, Peter J. (2009). Understanding and Applying Medical Anthropology. 2nd edition.
    Columbus, OH: McGraw-Hill Humanities.
    - Dettwyler, Katherine A. (1993). Dancing Skeletons. Long Grove, IL: Waveland Press.
    - Joralemon, Donald (1999) Exploring Medical Anthropology. Needham Heights,MA: Allyn &

    Other resources:
    - Taylor, Janelle S. (2003). The story catches you and you fall down: Tragedy, ethnography and
    ?cultural competence?. Medical Anthropology Quarterly 17(2):159-181.
    - Good, Byron J. and Mary-Jo DelVecchio Good (1993). ?Learning Medicine?: The constructing
    of medical knowledge at Harvard Medical School. In Knowledge, Power and Practice: The
    anthropology of medicine and everyday life. Lindenbaum, Shirley and Margaret Lock (eds.). Pp.
    81-107. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press.

    Session Topic Assignments
    1 Course Introduction

    2 Intro to Anthropology, The four fields

    3 Culture
    ? As adaptation
    ? As a system of meaning

    4 Culture
    ? As hegemony
    ? In Focus discussion: Cultural relativism
    Due today: Focus Essay #1
    Read for today:
    ? Cultural Relativism, Pp. 1-9.
    ? Majumder, Why rural sexual
    violence remains rife in India.

    5 Medical Anthropology
    ? Historical development
    Read for today:
    ? Joraleman, What?s So Cultural
    about Disease, Pp. 1-15.

    6 Theoretical Perspectives
    ? Biocultural approaches to health and healing in
    Read for today:
    ? Eaton, Shostak and Konner, Stone
    Agers in the Fast Lane, 21-33.

    7 Theoretical Perspectives
    ? Cultural approaches to health and healing in
    Read for today:
    ? Brown, Cultural Adaptations to
    Endemic Malaria in Sardinia, Pp.

    8 Case study: Anthropological perspectives on
    ? In Focus discussion: Comparing and contrasting
    critical and ecological perspectives
    Read for today:
    ? Joralman, Expanding the Vision
    of Medical Anthropology, Pp. 45-

    9 Ethnomedical systems
    ? Traditional and non-Western medical systems
    Read for today:
    ? Brown, Dark Side of the Shaman,
    Pp. 170-173.

    10 Ethnomedical systems
    ? Biomedicine
    ? Partially professionalized medical systems
    ? Folk and alternative medicine in the U.S.
    Read for today:
    ? Good and DelVecchi Good,
    ?Learning Medicine?: The
    constructing of medical
    knowledge at Harvard Medical
    School, Pp. 81-107.
    ? Miner, Body Ritual among the
    Nacirema, Pp. 503-507.

    11 Non-Western Disease etiologies
    ? Cultural models and schemata
    ? Personalistic and naturalistic etiologies
    Read for today:
    ? Foster, Disease Etiologies in
    Non-Western Medical Systems,
    Pp. 110-117.

    12 Discussion Session
    ? The Spirit Catches you and you Fall Down
    Due today: Focus Essay #2
    Read for today:
    ? Fadima, The Spirit Catches you
    and you Fall Down, Pp. 1-92.

    13 Non-Western Disease etiologies
    ? Navajo Medicine

    14 Midterm Exam

    15 Healers and Healing Professions
    ? What is healing?
    ? Illness, disease and the role of the medical
    ? Authority and healers
    Read for today:
    ? Joralemon, Healers and the
    Healing Professions, Pp 61-79.
    ? West, Farmer and Kleinman,
    AIDS as Human Suffering, Pp.

    16 Health Seeking Behavior in Context
    ? Hierarchies of resort
    ? Case study: The cultural context of malaria in
    the United Republic of Tanzania
    Read for today:
    ? Clark, Gender and Generation in
    Poor Women?s Household Health
    Production Experiences, Pp. 158-

    17 Reproductive Health
    ? Childbirth cultures: Exploring childbirth crossculturally
    Read for today:
    ? Fadima, The Spirit Catches you
    and you Fall Down, Pp. 107-153.

    18 Reproductive Health
    ? The body politic: Women?s bodies in
    ? Case study: Childbirth in Spain and Sweden
    Read for today:
    ? Martin, Medical Metaphors of
    Women?s Bodies: Menstruation
    and menopause, Pp. 345-356.

    19 Culture, Illness and Mental Health
    ? Case study: Susto in Latin America
    Read for today:
    ? Kleinman, Are Psychiatric
    Disorders Different in Different
    Cultures?, Pp. 185-196.

    20 Culture, Illness and Mental Health
    ? Video: ?When Medicine Got it Wrong?
    ? In Focus discussion: Social and political
    contexts of biomedicine

    21 Communication in Clinical Settings
    ? Physician and patient roles
    ? Cross-cultural miscommunication
    Read for today:
    ? Fadima, The Spirit Catches you
    and you Fall Down, Pp. 171-224.

    22 Medical Practitioners, Anthropology and the
    Western System of Care
    ? Cultural competency in health care
    ? Problems with ethnic classifications in the U.S.
    Due today : Focus Essay #3
    Read for today:
    ? Harwood, The Hot-Cold Theory
    of Disease, Pp. 251-258

    23 Medical Practitioners, Anthropology and the
    Western System of Care
    ? The LEARN model
    ? Patient-centered care versus medicalization of
    ? In Focus discussion: Cultural competency, the
    LEARN model and the case of Lia Lee
    Read for today:
    ? Berlin and Fowkes, Jr. A
    Teaching Framework for Cross-
    Cultural Health Care, Pp. 303-

    24 Discussion Session
    ? The Spirit Catches you and you Fall Down
    Read for today :
    ? Fadima, The Spirit Catches you and you Fall Down, Pp. 250-288.
    ? Taylor, The Story Catches you
    and you Fall Down, Pp. 159-181.

    25 Applied Medical Anthropology
    ? Framing illness and disease: Deviance, risk or
    ? Case study: Project PHRESH.comm
    Read for today:
    ? Joraleman, Applying Medical
    Anthropology, Pp. 81-100.

    26 Applied Medical Anthropology
    ? International and Public Health
    ? In Focus discussion: Medical Anthropology and
    medical school curriculum
    Due: Focus Essay #4

    Final Exam

Course Disclaimer

Courses and course hours of instruction are subject to change.

Eligibility for courses may be subject to a placement exam and/or pre-requisites.

Availability of courses is based on enrollment numbers. All students should seek pre-approval for alternate courses in the event of last minute class cancellations


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