Exploring Medical Anthropology: 3rd Edition (Paperback) book cover

Exploring Medical Anthropology

3rd Edition

By Donald Joralemon


176 pages

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Paperback: 9780205693511
pub: 2009-08-24
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This widely adopted text is a concise and engaging introduction to the field that presents competing theoretical perspectives in a balanced fashion, highlighting points of conflict and convergence.

Written in an accessible, jargon-free language, Exploring Medical Anthropology’s concise length leaves room for instructors to supplement it with monographs of their own choosing. Concrete cases and the author’s personal research experiences are utilized to explain some of the discipline’s most important insights; such as that biology and culture matter equally in the human experience of disease and 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.

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

About the Author

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

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
SOCIAL SCIENCE / Anthropology / General
SOCIAL SCIENCE / Anthropology / Cultural