Study abroad in Edinburgh

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Semester 1

Anthropology of Health and Healing (SCAN10062)


Social Anthropology





Normal Year Taken


Delivery Session Year



Visiting students must have at least 3 Anthropology courses at grade B or above. We will only consider University/College level courses.

Course Summary

This course provides an advanced introduction to the anthropology of health, illness and healing. Students will be introduced to key theories and current debates at the interface of anthropology and medicine through a focus on cross-cultural approaches to illness, pain, healing, the body and care. We will explore how different ways of experiencing and knowing the body, including varied concepts of gender, sexuality, and the life course, can radically alter how people think about and engage with issues of health and healing. This course explores biomedicine as one among many ways of thinking through and constituting personhood, illness and the body. It deals with the challenges that arise when biomedical expertise meets other understandings of illness and suffering; the multiple kinds of care provided in institutional, public, religious and domestic settings; the relationship between curing and healing; and the ways in which people grapple with affliction and uncertainty through narrative, through relationships, and through action. Medical anthropology is not only narrowly concerned with suffering and sickness but examines the significance of wellbeing, health and medicine for all domains of social life. This course therefore explores the centrality of health and healing to social, political, and historical processes in general.

Course Description

Topics include: key approaches in medical anthropology; the body and its parts; power and resistance; technologies of life and death; healing and medicalization; gender; care. This course is taught through lectures and seminars. Although grounded in social anthropology, this course is open to students with backgrounds in social sciences, medicine, biomedical sciences, and the humanities. Lectures will introduce the core themes, theories, and debates in medical anthropology. Content will be delivered in lecture sessions involving some participatory activities. These will be supported by separate seminars. Students are expected to actively discuss readings in class, and to participate in classroom activities and discussions during lecture time.

Assessment Information

Written Exam 0%, Coursework 100%, Practical Exam 0%

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All course information obtained from this visiting student course finder should be regarded as provisional. We cannot guarantee that places will be available for any particular course. For more information, please see the visiting student disclaimer:

Visiting student disclaimer