Medical Anthropology addresses the biological, cultural, and political-economic dimensions of health, illness, and healing historically and at present. Research includes attention to the body as a site of symbols and evolutionary processes, suffering and healing as interpretive processes, and the multiple facets of affliction at individual and collective levels.
Biomedicine and a range of other healing systems come under scrutiny as social phenomena shaped by the impact of history, social organization, and dynamic relations of power. Thus, health issues are considered in relation to broader, intersecting systems of environment and ecology, gender, sexuality, race/ethnicity, nation, and class subjectivities. A central contribution of medical anthropology is the critical analysis of how knowledge about health is constructed, deployed, and contested in various social arenas and for various purposes.
At UNC, Medical Anthropology is a Program that spans the theories and methods of the 3 Concentrations in our Anthropology department: Evolution and Ecology (EE), History, Meaning and Materiality (HMM), and Social Formations and Processes (SFP).
Faculty research and program strengths address the following thematic foci:
Critical analyses of health development, NGOs, and humanitarianism
Critical studies of disability
Evolutionary developmental biology
Growth and development
Life history theory
Political economies of health
Science as social forms of knowledge and power
State power, health care systems, and the boundaries of citizenship
Minor in Medical Anthropology
Programs of Study
Students may combine a focus in medical anthropology with one or more of the 3 departmental concentrations. The minor in Medical Anthropology is open to undergraduates who have chosen any major field of study in the university; many students who take premedical coursework have chosen to minor in our program. At the graduate level, students may apply for the PhD in Medical Anthropology.
Other units at UNC that may complement study in medical anthropology include: Social Medicine, School of Public Health, Carolina Population Center, the Center for Genomics and Society, the Shepps Center for Health Services Research, Occupational Sciences, Frank Porter Graham Institute for Child Development, the Institute for the Environment.
Lecture Series, Public Conversations, and Working Groups
Medical Anthropology at UNC welcomes the participation of students and scholars with diverse intellectual and professional interests. To this end, we organize several public forums for discussion and exchange. Some of our themes have included: Conversations on Working and Living with Medical Anthropology, which is a 1 credit course and informal conversation series on career options; an Intellectual Biographies lecture series with presentations by researchers and practitioners whose professional trajectories have been impacted by medical anthropology; and Working Groups for faculty and students in Culture Change, Health, and Environment and Moral Economies of Medicine.