Medical Anthropology Featured Courses, Fall 2018

ANTH 086-301 Desire and Demand (Freshman Seminar)

Instructor: Marilynne Diggs-Thompson

Monday 2:00PM-5:00PM 

Does consumption shape culture or does culture shape consumption? As even the most mundane purchase becomes socially symbolic and culturally meaningful we can persuasively argue that the concept of "need" has been transformed. Analyzing a variety of physical and virtual consumer venues, the goal of this seminar is to understand and to analyze historical and contemporary issues related to a culture of consumption. We investigate social and political-economic factors that impact when and how people purchase goods and argue that behavior attached to consumption includes a nexus of influences that may change periodically in response to external factors. Readings and research assignments are interdisciplinary and require a critical analysis of global/local linkages. The city of Philadelphia becomes the seminar's laboratory as we ask: how have issues of culture, consumption, and global capitalism become intertwined around the world? 

Fulfills Cultural Diversity in US Requirement


ANTH 238-401 Introduction to Medical Anthropology

Instructor: TBA

Monday/Wednesday 1:00PM-2:00PM and recitation

Introduction to Medical Anthropology takes central concepts in anthropology -- culture, adaptation, human variation, belief, political economy, the body -- and applies them to human health and illness. Students explore key elements of healing systems including healing technologies and healer-patient relationships. Modern day applications for medical anthropology are stressed. 

Fulfills Sector IV: Humanities and Social Science

Required for Medical Anthropology Concentration of the Anthropology Major


ANTH 244-001 Disease and Human Evolution 

Instructor: Morgan Hoke

Monday/Wednesday 2:00PM-3:30PM 

This course will explore the role played by disease in human evolution, from the emergence of the human lineage to the present day. We will evaluate both infectious and non-infectious diseases and examine the way in which populations and disease organisms have co-evolved. Related issues to be explored include the nature of the virulence and pathogenicity of infectious agents, and the impact of vaccination on pathogen evolution. In addition, we will discuss the epidemiological transition and the rise of complex diseases of modernization (e.g., diabetes, cancer) that has occurred in the past several centuries. Overall, the course will provide a broader understanding of the influence of disease processes on the evolution of the human species. 


ANTH 273-601 Global Health: Anthropological Perspectives

Instructor: Michael Joiner

Tuesday 4:30PM-7:30PM 

In some parts of the world spending on pharmaceuticals is astronomical. In others, people struggle for survival amid new and reemerging epidemics and have little or no access to basic or life-saving therapies. Treatments for infectious diseases that disproportionately affect the world's poor remain under-researched and global health disparities are increasing. This interdisciplinary seminar integrates perspectives from the social sciences and the biomedical sciences to explore 1) the development and global flows of medical technologies; 2) how the health of individuals and groups is affected by medical technologies, public policy, and the forces of globalization as each of these impacts local worlds. The seminar is structured to allow us to examine specific case material from around the world (Haiti, South Africa, Brazil, Russia, China, India, for example), and to address the ways in which social, political-economic, and technological factors -- which are increasingly global in nature -- influence basic biological mechanisms and disease outcomes and distribution. As we analyze each case and gain familiarity with ethnographic methods, we will ask how more effective interventions can be formulated. The course draws from historical and ethnographic accounts, medical journals, ethical analyses, and films, and familiarizes students with critical debates on globalization and with local responses to globalizing processes. 

Required for Medical Anthropology Concentration of the Anthropology Major


ANTH 332-301 Medicine and the Language of Pain

Instructor: Justin Clapp

Wednesday 3:30PM-6:30PM 

Pain can be a particularly complex and morally charged object of biomedicine. The interiority of pain- the deeply private nature of pain experience- complicates its communication. Pain, particularly its chronic form, defies purely biological explanation, troubling fundamental biomedical distinctions between mind and body, subject and object. And decisions about analgesia are fraught, as doctors and patients pursue relief from pain amidst a widespread epidemic of opiate abuse that infuses their interaction with concerns about addiction, drug seeking, culpability, and responsibility. This seminar seeks to shed light on these issues by using concepts from linguistic and medical anthropology to explore how we experience, think about, and talk about pain. As an interdisciplinary endeavor, the course is of relevance not only to anthropology but also to medical sociology, medical ethics, public health, health policy, and science and technology studies. 


ANTH 386-601 Culture, Consumption, and Production in The Global Marketplace

Instructor: Marilynne Diggs-Thompson

Wednesday 5:30PM-8:40PM

The goal of this course is to understand and to investigate both historical and contemporary issues related to a culture of consumption. Reading topics cover both contemporary and scholarly issues in cultural anthropology, popular culture, consumer behavior, off-shore production, social networking, media and communications, financial and real estate markets and marketing. Class distinctions are equally interdisciplinary as we focus on investigating and identifying critical global/local linkages. We analyze the various ways in which Philadelphia and other "global cities" are competing for consumer revenues. We ask what factors have led contemporary society reaching its current stage of mass consumption and how have certain goods and services been reconfigured, packaged or re-packaged to attract new consumers. In order to better understand the link between consumption and production factors we explore the relationship between outsourcing and/or offshore production and modern consumption. Approximately sixty percent of the seminar takes place in the classroom and will include lecture, class discussion, and films. The remaining portion of the class meetings will involve local and regional travel. Research assignments emphasize the use of anthropological participant-observation techniques to investigate the relationships between culture and contemporary mass consumption within the contexts of re-gentrification, urbanization, and globalization.

Fulfills Cultural Diversity in US Requirement


ANTH 444-301 Human Growth and Development

Instructor: Morgan Hoke

Tuesday 3:00PM-6:00PM 

In this course we will examine key issues and the processes involved in human growth and development. By their very nature, growth and development are biocultural processes that require an integrated analysis of social construction and biological phenomena. As such, we will incorporate insight from evolutionary theory, ecology, developmental biology, psychology, human biology, and cultural anthropology in our study of growth and development. Such an integrated perspective will help students to see that development is not just a biological unfolding from birth through adolescence and adulthood. Rather, development is best understood as process that is deeply intertwined with the environment within which the organism develops. Additionally, we will apply these biocultural and socio-ecological insights to emerging health challenges associated with various developmental stages. The study of human growth and development is useful to all students in biological, health-related, and social sciences.