Anthropological Perspectives on Global Health

Anthropological Perspectives on Global Health embodies the creative tension between the positivism of biomedicine and the more interpretative perspectives of social anthropology.

This course introduces the student to anthropology and global health through a survey of classical and current issues, concepts and topics with this tension as a central thread. The general aims of the course are to link illness experience with socio political factors; understand cultural influences on health and sickness in a variety of contexts around the world; appreciate the celebration of and resistance to biomedicine in local contexts; develop cultural and personal empathy through an appreciation of radically different conceptualisations of sickness and encourage greater dialogue between medical anthropology, public health and medical research.

Tutors: Audrey Prost and Rodney Reynolds

Course structure: The course is ten weeks long. Each week there is a 3 hour lecture and discussion.

Assessment: Oral presentation  (100%)


  • An Introduction to Anthropology and Global Health
  • "Irrational beliefs" and disease causation
  • The social construction of illness, the meaning of like events Shamanism and spirit possession: belief and indigenous knowledge
  • The body, personhood and the experience of illness
  • Medical pluralism and substances of power
  • Critical medical anthropology: Tackling health inequalities from an anthropological perspective
  • Critical medical anthropology- structural violence and politicisation of medicine
  • Prognosis of schizophrenia in the developing world: mental health in a cross cultural context
  • Anthropology, health interventions and medical research