3rd Edition

Understanding and Applying Medical Anthropology

Edited By Peter J. Brown, Svea Closser Copyright 2016
    460 Pages
    by Routledge

    The editors of the third edition of the seminal textbook Understanding and Applying Medical Anthropology bring it completely up to date for both instructors and students. The collection of 49 readings (17 of them new to this edition) offers extensive background description and exposes students to the breadth of theoretical, methodological, and practical perspectives and issues in the field of medical anthropology. The text provides specific examples and case studies of research as it is applied to a range of health settings: from cross-cultural clinical encounters to cultural analysis of new biomedical technologies and the implementation of programs in global health settings. The new edition features:

    • a major revision that eliminates many older readings in favor of more fresh, relevant selections;

    • a new section on structural violence that looks at the impact of poverty and other forms of social marginalization on health;

    • an updated and expanded section on “Conceptual Tools,” including new research and ideas that are currently driving the field of medical anthropology forward (such as epigenetics and syndemics);

    • new chapters on climate change, Ebola, PTSD among Iraq/Afghanistan veterans, eating disorders, and autism, among others;

    • recent articles from Margaret Mead Award winners Sera Young, Seth Holmes, and Erin Finley, along with new articles by such established medical anthropologists as Paul Farmer and Merrill Singer.



    Peter J. Brown is a medical anthropologist holding a joint faculty appointment in anthropology and global health at Emory University. He has served as editor-in-chief of the journal Medical Anthropology and has won several national teaching and mentoring awards. His research interests are in culture and disease ecology, with particular focus on malaria and obesity. He is co-editor of The Anthropology of Infectious Disease: International Health Perspectives (Routledge, 1998), Applying Anthropology (McGraw-Hill, 2011), Applying Cultural Anthropology (McGraw-Hill, 2012), and the two previous editions of Understanding and Applying Medical Anthropology. He is senior academic advisor to the Emory Global Health Institute and served on a malaria-related Scientific Advisory Committee for the World Health Organization.

    Svea Closser is associate professor of anthropology and director of the Global Health Program at Middlebury College. Her professional interests are focused on the interaction between global health policy and local health systems. Closser’s recent research projects include a seven-country study of polio eradication and health systems, funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, and a study of ground-level health staff in Ethiopia, funded by the National Science Foundation. She is the author of Chasing Polio in Pakistan: Why the World’s Largest Public Health Initiative May Fail (Vanderbilt University Press, 2010), which won Vanderbilt University Press’s Norman L. and Roselea J. Goldberg Prize for the best project in the area of medicine.

    "Understanding and Applying Medical Anthropology is the ‘go-to’ book for teaching medical anthropology or related courses in culture and health. I have used it with great success in many classes. One of its great strengths is that multiple perspectives are covered—ethnomedicine, illness experience, biological interactions with culture and health, political ecology, and cross-cultural healing, among others. As a capstone, the book finishes with a series of chapters on application, so important in today's globalized and diverse world. I recommend it highly!"

    - Mark Edberg, George Washington University

    "For years, Understanding and Applying Medical Anthropology has served as a great foundational text for my medical anthropology courses. The reader works very well in concert with one of the many health-themed ethnographies. What I especially like is that the volume examines health and medical issues through the lens of biocultural analysis, evolution, cultural interpretation, political ecology, and applied medical anthropology. Students learn to contrast these approaches, assisted by the introductory essays. Health professionals, public health students, and anthropology majors find much to challenge and intrigue them in this collection."

    - Laurie Price, California State University, East Bay