The Taste for Knowledge: Medical Anthropology Facing Medical Realities

The Taste for Knowledge: Medical Anthropology Facing Medical Realities

The Taste for Knowledge: Medical Anthropology Facing Medical Realities

The Taste for Knowledge: Medical Anthropology Facing Medical Realities

Excerpt

When the Society for Medical Anthropology in the US celebrated its 50th anniversary in 2009, they focused on medical anthropology at the intersection: ‘50 years of interdisciplinarity’. The reflection on the way anthropology faces interdisciplinarity and deals with it, is also that which partly motivated this book. But this reflection consists of chapters written – with one exception – from a European perspective. The situation for medical anthropology in most European countries is quite different from the US, where MA is the largest sub-field of anthropology. But the challenges are much the same. Medical anthropology is by default encountering other sciences, with other epistemologies, and that creates friction – and friction creates energy and creativity. The encounters with medicine: the medical systems, medical research and medical doctors are especially at the centre. Several contributions in this book take on the challenge and suggest different strategies.

Medical anthropology traces its roots to European anthropology, years before the Society of Medical Anthropology was founded in the US. EvansPrichard’s book on the Azande from 1937 (Evans-Pritchard 1937) and Ernesto De Martino’s book on the healing ritual of the tarantella in South-Italy from 1958 (Martinoa and Zinn 2005 (1958) are two outstanding examples. This book shows that European medical anthropology is still in the making and that medical anthropology is becoming increasingly important in the fields of medical research and public health.

This book

We have organized the contributions in this book into two main sections; the first is focusing on medical anthropology as an academic field in relation to other sciences in practical interdisciplinary work. The other section is looking at the situation in society, with new medical realities and with changing medical systems. We look at how patients manoeuvre in this changing landscape.

If we should look for a common denominator, we could say that strategy . . .

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