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What is so Anthropological about Health, Illness and Healing?


What is so Anthropological about Health, Illness and Healing? Medical Anthropology – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: What is so Anthropological about Health, Illness and Healing?

What is so Anthropological about Health, Illness
and Healing?
  • Medical Anthropology

What is Anthropology
  • Anthropos means human and logia is study so that
    anthropology is the study of humans
  • The study of human differences, cultural and
    biological, in the context of human nature.
    Anthropologists identify and compare behavior of
    a particular group against the full range of
    human behavior. These comparisons should uncover
    principles that apply to all human communities

What is Anthropology
  • Anthropologists studied the way of life, remains,
    language, and physical characteristics of people
    -- social facts
  • Customs, values, and social patterns of different
    cultures were described and sometimes compared.
    How are different people in different places
    similar and different, both biologically and
    behaviorally? Spotting cultural patterns requires
    "fresh, neutral eyes."

What is Culture?
  • How do you define it? How do you know when
    youve encountered it?
  • Culture . . .
  • There is a strong interest in how culture changes
    over time and in cross-cultural comparison that
    may lead to universal generalizations. Sometimes,
    this is called ethnology

What is Culture?
  • Culture is that database of knowledge, values,
    and traditional ways of viewing the world that
    determines much of our behavior. Social structure
    (personal relationships and status in groups),
    especially kinship and marriage networks, but
    also family structures and property rights are
    integral parts of "culture.
  • Culture is a system of shared values, ideas,
    concepts, meanings and rules that underlie and
    are expressed in the ways that human beings live.

Its about a group of people
  • It is the participants in a culture who give
    meaning to people, objects, and events. . . . It
    is by our use of things and what we say, think,
    and feel about them that we give them meaning.
    (Stuart Hall 1997)

Definitions of Culture- a note to keep in mind
  • In 1952, anthropologists Alfred Kroeber and Clyde
    Kluckhohn attempted to define culture.
  • 160 definitions later, they stopped . . .
  • . . . suggested that they were still not finished.

Definitions of Culture the bottom line
  • Kroeber Kluckhohn (1952) realized that all of
    their definitions came down to three common areas
  • Meanings, social practices, and material products
  • What people think, what people do, and what
    people make
  • Cultures most essential feature is that it is

Anthropological Definitions
  • Historical social heritage or tradition passed
    on to succeeding generations
  • Behavioral shared, learned human behavior a way
    of life
  • Normative ideals, values, rules for living
  • Functional methods of problem-solving and
    adapting to specific environment
  • Structural patterns of interrelated ideas,
    symbols, and behaviors
  • Symbolic arbitrarily assigned meanings agreed
    upon by a society

Finding Decoding Cultural Components of Health,
Illness, Healing
  • Primary purpose is to uncover the historical,
    normative, and symbolic elements of culture
  • Historical where does the culture of medicine
    come from? How did it develop and how is it
    passed on?
  • Normative what ideals, values, and rules are
    inherent to the culture of medicine?
  • Symbolic what are the agreed-upon meanings of
    the body, of health/wellness, of disease/illness,
    of life/death?

Why study culture in medical contexts?
  • From an anthropological perspective, culture is
    the single most significant evolutionary
    adaptation in the success of modern humans.
  • The particular way that a community of
    individuals organizes itself and marshals its
    skills, knowledge, and energies to combat disease
    is a central part of culture.

Why study culture in medical contexts?
  • Improving health care in Third World contexts
    (whether home or abroad) requires culturally
    appropriate methods.
  • What power relationship is implicit here?
  • All countries of the world are increasingly
    divided into healthy upper classes and continuing
    unhealthy underclasses (WHO 1999).
  • What meanings social practices contribute to
    this power structure?

(No Transcript)
What is so cultural about physiology and anatomy?
  • Culture, Body and Technology

  • The human body has a social as well as a physical
  • The shape, size and adornments of the body are a
    way of communicating information about the

The Body Self and Health
  • The social body or social self is socially
  • The body image is a representation of him/herself

The Body Self and Health
  • The health risk of such body image may damage the
    physiological and anatomical construction of a
  • Such mutilation of the body is a
    self-identification and yet prone to health risk

The Symbolic Body and Health
  • The concept of body self can is a representation
    of body aesthetics to the detriment of health and
  • Body self is culturally constructed

The Function of the Body
  • Beliefs about the body structure can have
    clinical importance, those about how it functions
    are probably more significant in how they affect
    peoples behaviors

The function of body and health
  • Medical Dualism
  • Medical Pluralism
  • Hot-Cold
  • Evil-Good Omen
  • Dirty-Clean
  • Ugly-Beautiful
  • Balance-Imbalance
  • Yin-Yang
  • Kulam-Barang
  • Western Medicine
  • Traditional Medicine
  • Ayurvedic Medicine
  • Chinese Medicine
  • Trans Medicine

Cultural Language in Health (Symbolic Anatomies)
  • Plumbing the body
  • Heart of life
  • Medical Technology
  • These some terms are mystical metaphors that
    bear no relation to physical reality, but it is
    because of these metaphors that individuals
    expresses themselves in terms of how they explain
    illness and health

Medical Anthropology 21st Century
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