|No. Of Credits
Semester and Year Offered: 3rdSemester Monsoon Semester 2013
Course Coordinator and Team: Dr UrfatAnjem Mir
Email of course coordinator:urfat[at]aud[dot]ac[dot]in
Aim: This course aims to address some very basic questions in the field of health: Why do we have diverse medical Systems? Are there some common elements of health and healing practices in these diverse medical systems? Why disease and illness cannot be fully understood by treating them as biological in nature? Why should we look at health problems as complex biosocial processes? Why is it essential to study a range of factors like systems of belief, structures of social relationships and environmental conditions in the context of health problems?
In short, this course will discuss in detail the aspect of universal realities of disease and distress and how the systems of health care are socially, culturally and politically constructed. The aim is to enlighten students about the dynamics of individual and community health knowledge, relationship between public health problems and socio-cultural processes. It will also sharpen their understanding of the notion of healthy life worlds and lifestyle choices that diverse communities practice and seek to protect.
By the end of this course, the learners will be able to:
Brief description of modules/ Main modules:
Health as a concept is very central to the idea of human survival, thus a comprehensive understanding of the notions of health, illness, well-being, and health care systems and practices –especially in multi-cultural societies is vital. The course aims to introduce students to the foundations of health systems, different beliefs and behaviours, health related issues and challenges. The approach will be to examine the notion of health as culturally constructed means of representing and shaping the body, illness, disease and healing practices. Therefore, the course will broadly have three sections: theoretical perspectives, medical systems and the public health issues. In the first section, the course will examine the concepts of health, illness, disease and wellbeing by using the various theoretical perspectives- largely, medical anthropological. The medical anthropological perspective, because, it certainly draws on research formulated in other disciplines like, medical sociology, epidemiology, public health and history of medicine. Is there a dichotomy of ‘body’ and ‘mind’, and if so, how can we challenge it?
The second section will look at different medical systems and medical pluralism.
The third section will deal primarily with the contemporary problems of disease, illness, issues of public health and the global health problems. How the biological and socio-cultural evolution in response to environmental challenges has resulted into a complex human body. By drawing largely from ‘cases’ of health issues across cultures, the course will try to make it interesting for students – and challenge the common assumption of a student that there exists a gap between ‘theoretical’ and ‘real’ knowledge. It will keep focus on the human body and study the realities of human disease, illness, suffering and death in different cultural contexts.
What is health? Conceptions of Disease and illness,
Health and quality of life
Cultural definitions of anatomy and physiology
Medical ecological theory
Cultural interpretive theory
Critical medical anthropology
Medical Systems and Health Care Pluralism
Biomedicine as a system of medicine
Health care pluralism; Complementary and alternative medicines (CAM)
Nutrition and Health
Cultural classification of food
Food as medicine
Dietary changes and disease
Pain and Culture
Private and public pain
Social dimensions of pain
Health issues in Human populations
Health and environment
Gender cultures and health
Contemporary issues in health
Health disparity and Social inequality
Health and social disparity cross culturally
Health praxis and the struggle for a healthy world
Health and human rights
Public policy and health care
Assessment Details with weights:
Assignment 1: Take home Assignment on understanding the meaning of health, health belief and practices in daily life. 25 % Weightage
Second Assignment on writing an essay on Medical Pluralism in Indian context25 % weightage
Third Assignment: A small study on any topic of learner’s interest in which the learnersare expected to study dietary and hygiene practices in relation to health of any community / people in neighbourhood.25% Weightage
Last assignment: A reflection paper based on learners reading of an ethnographic study on health to present a thoughtful analysis of health issues of communities with a focus on health disparity and social inequality. The purpose of this assignment is to make the learners read latest articles on these topics and critically comment on the nature and characteristics of the Health issues and the health disparity prevailing in India and suggest measures for improving health.25 Weightage