Culture, Health, and Illness (E260)
Why do people in some cultures suffer illnesses caused by fear, nerves, and the evil eye, and what cures exist? Who are shamans, and what roles do they play across cultures? How can specialists trained in biomedicine be more sensitive to the cultural beliefs of their patients? What are anthropologists doing to address the AIDS pandemic?
We explore these questions and many more in this course. The meanings of “health” and illness, and the experience of one’s body, are often taken for granted. However, our ideas about and experiences of health, “dis-ease,” and medicine are profoundly shaped by culture, transnational flows of people, ideas, and resources, histories of colonialism and structural inequalities, and the development of new technologies. An informed understanding of a person or group’s health and illness experiences must begin by exploring the multiple contexts—cultural, geopolitical, and socio-economic—from which those experiences are generated. In this course, students will learn to think about issues of health, disease, and medicine in cross-cultural and global terms.
Post-Socialist Gender Formations (E614)
This graduate seminar focuses on questions of gender, sexuality, and power during and after socialism in the countries of the former Soviet Bloc. Readings and seminar discussions begin by centering on the Soviet project(s) to emancipate women, and “feminizing” and “masculinizing” projects throughout the region. Most attention is given to recent developments in gender formations as socialist projects have given way to capitalism and globalization. We will read theoretical works as well as case studies and ethnographies to understand the discourses and struggles motivating contemporary gender ideologies in the former Soviet Bloc countries.
Advanced Seminar in Medical Anthropology (E445/645)
The meanings of “health” and disease, and the experience of one’s body, are often taken for granted. However, our ideas about and experiences of health, “dis-ease,” and medicine are profoundly shaped by culture, transnational flows of people, ideas, and resources, histories of colonialism and structural inequalities, and the development of new technologies. In the course we will focus on some of the most salient trends in current medical anthropological research. Topics to be covered include the following, and more: cultural contexts of illness, health, and ideologies of the body; the politics and poetics of different healing practices; medical knowledge production and the advantages and drawbacks of contemporary, high-tech biomedicine; gendered aspects of health, illness, and medicine; political and moral economies of health in the global context; the deep meanings that motivate contemporary discourses on various “new disorders;” and intersections between disability and citizenship. Additionally, the seminar includes a particular focus on health and medicine in the former socialist countries of Eastern Europe as case studies of global transformations in health care delivery, use of new medical technologies, and changing discourses on the body and illness.
Anthropology of Russia and East Europe (E412/612)
This course explores the contradictory effects of socialism’s “fall” through a study of recent ethnographies of postsocialist societies. We will be interested to explore not just the “real” effects of the recent social, political, and economic changes in Eastern Europe, but also people’s diverse experiences and interpretations of these changes and the coping strategies they have developed. We will also consider different ways people “re-member” the socialist past and to what extent this past still informs daily life in contexts of “postsocialism.” Our inquiries will connect to broad intellectual questions in anthropology and related disciplines, including globalization, social suffering, commodification and cultural identity, ethnicity and nation building, and various axes of inequality such as language, class, disability, and gender, among others.
Chernobyl: Legacies of a Meltdown (E400/600)
In this course students learn about the far-reaching and intersecting environmental, political, social, and health effects of the 1986 Chernobyl nuclear accident. This course offers an integrated view of Chernobyl and other ecological disasters, illustrating the important environmental aspects of such events, but also other ways in which calamities such as Chernobyl reverberate locally and globally with persons and societies. We interweave discussions of policy and international law with considerations of ethics, risk, social entitlements, subjective experiences of health and disease, and others. The course utilizes anthropological approaches to studying complex events such as Chernobyl via unique literatures and media sources that highlight local, humanistic interpretations of the disaster while placing the accident’s effects in a dynamic, multidisciplinary, global context. Going beyond Chernobyl as an environmental case study, we examine the symbolic uses of the accident, local interpretations of nuclear catastrophe, and Chernobyl as an example of various globalizing forces. Ultimately, the course guides students through the labyrinth of Chernobyl effects while highlighting the linkages between ecological, medical, political, and social aftershocks of a techno-environmental catastrophe.