1st Edition

Medical Materialities Toward a Material Culture of Medical Anthropology

Edited By Aaron Parkhurst, Timothy Carroll Copyright 2019
    250 Pages
    by Routledge

    250 Pages 32 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    Medical Materialities investigates possible points of cross-fertilisation between medical anthropology and material culture studies, and considers the successes and limitations of both sub-disciplines as they attempt to understand places, practices, methods, and cultures of healing. The editors present and expand upon a definition of ‘medical materiality’, namely the social impact of the agency of often mundane, at times non-clinical, materials within contexts of health and illness, as caused by the properties and affordances of this material. The chapters address material culture in various clinical and biomedical contexts and in discussions that link the body and healing. The diverse ethnographic case studies provide valuable insight into the way cultures of medicine are understood and practised.

    1. Introduction: A Genealogy of Medical Materialities  2. Of flesh and mesh: Time, materiality and health in surgical recovery  3. From attitudes to materialities: Understanding bowel control for colorectal cancer patients in London  4. The life course of labia: female genital cutting in Somaliland  5. On ‘Being the Problem’: The Ontological Choreography of the Infertile Male  6. Blood, Lungs and Passports  7. ‘Time for Tea’: Tea Practices and Care in a British Hospice  8. Regenerative Medicine Event’: Cells, Soybeans, and a Repurposing of Ritual in Japan  9. The Form that Flattens  10. On Becoming a Vegetable: Life, Nature and Healing for a Hylozoic Cult  11. Making the Body Local: The suburban shitizen  12. Of smoke and unguents: Health affordances of sacred materiality  13. How photographs ‘empower’ bodies to act differently  14. Response: Medical materialities, (post)genomics and the biosocial  15. Response: Medical materialities, collections & artefacts


    Aaron Parkhurst is a lecturer in Biosocial Medical Anthropology at University College London, UK, with a focus on the anthropology of the human body, and the anthropology and bioethics of emerging technology.

    Timothy Carroll is a British Academy Postdoctoral Fellow in Anthropology at University College London, UK, studying end-of-life and post-mortem care amongst Orthodox Christians in Britain.


    "This book serves to fill the gap between medical anthropology and material studies in medicine and makes the two subdisciplines mutually supportive fields. It is a must-have book in anthropology, medicine, and material studies." - A. Y. Lee, George Mason University in Choice