The Pursuit of Health as a Human Right: Health Praxis and the Struggle for a Healthy World
In what we see as the first phase of its development, critical medical anthropology (CMA) struggled primarily with issues of self-definition within academic medical anthropology. Now that CMA has "come of age," its proponents have begun to grapple more seriously with strategies for creating healthier environments and more equitable health care delivery systems. CMA is ultimately concerned with praxis or the merger of theory and social action. Critical anthropology as the larger framework of CMA poses the questions of "anthropology for what?" and "anthropology for whom?" It wishes to move beyond an anthropology that all too often has viewed the subjects of its research as museum pieces or populations to be administered by bureaucratic organizations, such as governmental agencies and, more recently, transnational corporations. Critical anthropology strives to be part of a larger global process of liberation from the forces of economic exploitation and political oppression.
As part of this larger endeavor, a panel of critical medical anthropologists examined various actual and potential forms of health activism at the 1994 American Anthropological Association meeting, which had as its theme "Human Rights." This session, organized by Hans Baer and Kenyon Stebbins, was titled "Medical Anthropology in the Pursuit of Human Rights." Papers presented by panelists at this session recognized that critical medical anthropologists have questioned the reformist nature of conventional social science education, the co-optation of clinical anthropology, and the pro-physician bias of many biomedical intervention programs utilizing anthropological insights. The presenters, in so many words, felt that they should not stand idly by until "the revolution" arrives to address health change. Like other critical medical social scientists, many critical medical anthropologists work as health activists for women's health collectives, free clinics, ethnic community health centers,
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Publication information: Book title: Medical Anthropology and the World System:A Critical Perspective. Contributors: Hans A. Baer - Author, Merrill Singer - Author, Ida Susser - Author. Publisher: Bergin & Garvey. Place of publication: Westport, CT. Publication year: 1997. Page number: 231.
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