The student takes three subsidiary subjects or options. Options available include courses that are both complimentary to medical anthropology and/or those that provide theoretical and methodological approaches drawn from across the broad focus of the department including social, cultural, biological and material culture.
Highlighted options for the MSc in Medical Anthropology include:
- Anthropology of Science, Society and Biomedicine - This course will critically engage with recent anthropological research and theory addressing the social and cultural context of novel developments in the field of genetics, biotechnology and the life/medical sciences. These shape shifting arenas of science and technology and their actual or predicted implications for questions of disease risk, collective/individual identity and the politics and ethics of health care has been the focus of much recent research within medical anthropology, STS (Science and Technology Studies) and the anthropology of science. The course incorporates emerging research in different national contexts that include the ‘global south’ drawing on ethnographic work in Asia and South America to provide an comparative perspective on what are transnational developments.
- Ritual Healing and Therapeutic Emplotment - This course covers ritual healing practices and "emplotment" in therapeutic narratives in small scale societies and in modern biomedical settings. It will include discussions of ritual, symbolism, narrative, clinical care, postcolonial revitalization movements, spirit possession, and the social production and ethnographic description of healing experiences in sociopolitical context. The course will combine the perspectives of medical anthropology, psychological anthropology and the social anthropology of religion and ritual.
- Anthropology of Gender Language and Culture - This course explores the linguistic construction of gendered cultures. It is built around a set of key ethnographies on language and gender. The lectures include multi-media presentations, and draw on theory within contemporary linguistic anthropology. First of all we consider linguistic relativism, and the language socialization of boys and girls in differing cultural contexts. This initial debate provides a framework to consider gendered affective regimes, soundscapes, and verbal art. Finally, we consider the impact of rapid cultural change, globalization and modernization on language and gender: the loss of genres/gender, the postmodern construction of voices, and emerging rhetorical and ironic selves.
- Anthropology of Advanced Industrial Society Risk, Power and Uncertainty - This course sets out to explore risk, power and uncertainty. Why so? Because, increasingly, late modern settings come to be specified and evaluated in terms of the hazards, risks and uncertainties they appear to generate: more so, perhaps, than the inequities, oppressions and alienations that formerly characterised the social analysis of modern malaise. The extent of this shift; the reasons for it; the place of power in its operation; its socio-cultural (and indeed, cosmological) implications are all matters of controversy that need to be rigorously examined. The course begins with a brief survey of pre-modern notions of fate, destiny and magical protection; moves onto consider key contributions in the anthropology of risk (Douglas); assesses the applicability of the concept of 'chaos' in socio-cultural anthropology; and concludes with a critical examination of the sociology of 'the risk society' (Beck) and associated ideas. The second part of the course tackles a series of special issues chosen from areas of science, environment, medicine, politics, marginality, material culture, art, finance, gambling and extreme play. It is intended that the course will link together social, biological and material cultural trends in contemporary anthropology.
Special options in the Department of Academic Psychiatry at University College Middlesex Hospital at SOAS or at the Wellcome Institute can be individually arranged for MSc students in medical.
By three essays, one for each of three optional modules. In total these essays are worth 25% of the degree's total mark.
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