Wednesday, December 11, 2019

[Short Course] An Introduction to Medical Anthropology - University of Sao Paulo

As visiting faculty at the University of Sao Paulo, I gave a short course entitled "An Introduction to Medical Anthropology" from December 4-9, 2019, in which I offered a broader view of health, focusing on the ways people make sense of health, illness, and bodily experiences - and discussing some contemporary debates within the sub-discipline with particularly relevance to the Global South.

The course covered four modules - " Situating culture in health, situating health in culture: Basic concepts in medical anthropology";  "The human life cycle: An anthropological perspective"; "The normal and the pathological"; and "The ‘lived body’: Exploring everyday technologies of the self".

In the first module, the class discussed the emergence of medical anthropology as an important subfield as well as foundational concepts like medical pluralism, the three sectors of healthcare, and explanatory models of disease. In the second module, we revisited the classic anthropological concept of ‘rites of passage’ to reflect on the different stages of the human life cycle.

Meanwhile, the third module discussed how medical knowledge and practice have structured modern notions of normality, deviance, identity, and community.

Finally, the fourth module reflected on ‘body projects’ in late modernity - from plastic surgery in Korea to skin whitening in the Philippines - and how these practices are situated in both global and local contexts.

[Public Lecture] Towards the Anthropology of the Vertical

SAO PAULO, BRAZIL - On December 4, 2019, as part of my duties as visiting faculty here at the University of Sao Paulo's Department of Anthropology, I delivered a public lecture based on my PhD dissertation entitled "Towards the Anthropology of the Vertical". I presented historical and ethnographic findings from my research, including the imbrication of height with colonialism, race, gender, and identity. I also sketched possible research directions of this approach, including the ways in which 'verticality' characterize modernity: from our high-rise buildings and elevators to 'body projects' that involve human height. 

After the lecture, Prof. Joao Gonçalves of USP gave a reaction, referencing counter-examples that celebrate not just height but depth, stressing that verticality can mean not just "up" but "down".

A summary of some of the findings from my PhD research can be found in this article.