The chapters in this book are selected and revised from papers presented at panels (sharing their title with this book) at the 1997 meetings of the Society for Medical Anthropology (Seattle, March) and the American Anthropological Association (AAA; Washington, DC, November). The panels brought together psychologists, anthropologists, and immunologists interested in the relation of culture and social organization to notions of, and actual workings of, immune systems. Volume contributors Napier and Kirmayer offered comments on the AAA papers that were exceedingly helpful in moving the volume onward.
In a broad sense the ideas arose out of an accident - the fact that the editor encountered James Pennebaker’s work during his graduate studies in anthropology at UCLA, a hotbed of interest in psychoneuroimmunology (PNI). In addition to Pennebaker, I received encouragement to bring about this sort of interdisciplinary rapprochement from contributor Daniel Moerman, who also convened the roundtable, “Placebo and Nocebo Effects: Developing a Research Agenda, ” sponsored by the Program in Alternative Medicine of the NIH, in Bethesda, December 1996 at which I was a rather passive participant. My work at the intersection of culture and PNI has also been encouraged over the years by my colleagues in Arizona - Heidi Wayment and Steven Barger at NAU, and Steve Hoffman at ASU. In the years since the 1997 panels that gave rise to these papers, our series editor Susan DiGiacomo has given constant support, for which we are all grateful.
A version of Daniel Moerman’s chapter appeared in Medical Anthropology Quarterly (14(1), 2000). We are grateful to the American Anthropological Association for permission to include it here.
A version of Cone and Martin’s chapter appeared in The Visible Woman, edited by Paula Treichler and Constance Penley. We are grateful to NYU Press for permission to reprint this revision here.
Finally, Julene Knox at Routledge has rallied the resources of the press and guided the book into paper. Thank you, Julene.