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Exploring Medical Anthropology



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  • Exploring Medical Anthropology
    Exploring Medical Anthropology
  • Exploring Medical Anthropology
    Exploring Medical Anthropology


Written in an accessible, jargon-free language,Exploring Medical Anthropologyrs"s concise length leaves room for instructors to supplement it with monographs of their own choosing. Concrete cases and the authorrs"s personal research experiences are used to explain four of the discipliners"s most important insights: 1) that biology and culture matter equally in the human experience of disease, 2) that the political economy is a primary epidemiological factor, 3) that ethnography is an essential tool to understand human suffering due to disease, and 4) that medical anthropology can help to alleviate human suffering. An extensive glossary facilitates student learning of concepts and terms, while a list of suggested readings at the end of each chapter and an extensive bibliography encourage further exploration.

Author Biography

Donald Joralemon is professor of anthropology at Smith College.  He received his BA from Oberlin College (1974) and his MA and PhD from the University of California, Los Angeles (1983).  He is the author of Exploring Medical Anthropology (1999, third edition 2010) and the coauthor (with Douglas Sharon) of Sorcery and Shamanism: Curanderos and Clients in Northern Peru (1993).  Among his published articles on Peruvian shamanism is the widely cited essay, “The Selling of the Shaman and the Problem of Informant Legitimacy” (Journal of Anthropological Research, 1990).  His present work focuses on the anthropology of organ transplantation and medical ethics.  His article “Organ Wars: The Battle for Body Parts” (Medical Anthropology Quarterly, 1995) won the Polgar Prize from the Society for Medical Anthropology.  His most recent publications, on the medical ethics of financial compensation for organ donors, appear in the Journal of Medical Ethics (2001) and The Hastings Center Report (2003).  An article on the concept of medical futility was published in the Cambridge Quarterly of Health Care Ethics (2002).


At Smith College, Professor Joralemon teaches Medical Anthropology, Native South Americans, Dying and Death,  and a seminar on Anthropology and Medical Ethics

Table of Contents



Chapter 1   What's So Cultural About Disease?

            Culture in Medicine

            Development of Medical Anthropology

            Medical Anthropology Today

            Summary: Placing Medical Anthropology Among the Social Sciences of Medicine

            Suggested Readings



Chapter 2   Anthropological Questions and Methods in the Study of Sickness and Healing

            Studying Shamans in Peru

            Studying Medicine in the United States

            Summary: The Anthropological Vision

            Suggested Readings



Chapter 3: Recognizing Biological, Social and Cultural Interconnections: Evolutionary and Ecological Perspectives on a Cholera Epidemic

            Thinking About Epidemics

            History and Biology of Cholera

            Epidemiological Accounts of Peru's Cholera Epidemic

            Evolution and the Ecological Framework

            Cholera and the Evolutionary Framework

            Medical Anthropology Embraces the Ecological/Evolutionary Model

            Suggested Readings



Chapter 4  Expanding the Vision of Medical Anthropology: Critical and Interpretive Views of the Cholera Epidemic

            Political-Economy of Cholera

            Political-Economic vs. Ecological/Evolutionary Perspectives

            Interpretive View of Cholera

            Taking a Broader, Inclusive Perspective

            Suggested Readings



Chapter 5 The Global Petri Dish


            SARS: The First Global Epidemic of the 21st Century

            One Health Ecology

            Further Complications: The Threat of Bioterrorism

            Suggested Readings



Chapter 6  Healers and the Healing Professions

            Healing Roles: Organizing the Diversity

            Authority of Healers

            Authority in the Folk Health Sector: Position of  Peruvian Curanderos

            Authority in the Professional Health Care Sector: Case of Biomedicine

            Challenges to Biomedical Authority

            Authority of Biomedicine in Non-Western Countries


            Suggested Readings



Chapter 7  Applying Medical Anthropology

            Medical Anthropology in International Development: A Brief History

            Work of Applied Medical Anthropologists in International Contexts

            Applying Medical Anthropology in the United States

            Between a Rock and a Hard Place: Applied Anthropology Under Attack

            Personal Reflections

            Suggested Readings



Chapter 8: Anthropology and Medical Ethics

            Medical Ethics: A Comparative Framework

            Medical Ethics Beyond Biomedicine

            Development of Bioethics in the United States

            Social Sciences and Bioethics

            Social Science: Out of the Closet

            Suggested Readings



Chapter 9: Body, Self and Biotechnologies

            Cross-Cultural Views of the Self

            The Stem Cell Debate

            “Baby” Pictures

            Rights, Death and the Autonomous Self


            Suggested Readings



Chapter 10: A Look Back and a Glance Ahead

            Advantages of Medical Anthropology

            Thinking Anthropologically about HIV/AIDS

            Future Directions in Medical Anthropology

            Academic and Professional Career Paths Related to Medical Anthropology


            Suggested Readings




References Cited

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