MSc in Biosocial Medical Anthropology- Student Reflections

I joined the MSc Biosocial Medical Anthropology after working for two years at a small education charity in London. I had really enjoyed studying anthropology at undergraduate, particularly as my course had offered modules in both social and biological anthropology. I found the point of interaction between the sub-disciplines really interesting, and was keen to…

Reflections from an Anthropology Field School: A Crash Course in Cross-disciplinary Communication

I recently participated in a field school run by the NAPA-OT subsection of the AAA in Antigua, Guatemala. The month-long project on which I worked interrogated the lack of effective communication between different providers of maternal healthcare in the country; biomedical practitioners (OBGYNs & doctors), and non-biomedically trained midwives (‘comadronas’). With one of the highest rates of maternal mortality in Latin America, overcoming boundaries to effective collaboration and referral networks between all medical providers in Guatemala is a key global health concern.

UCL Medical Anthropology Outreach: In Defence of Gender Identities

This is Part II in our series on UCL Medical Anthropology outreach over the summer.  Daniel Newman participated in the UCL Widening Participation Regional Summer Challege (see Part I for more) co-taught by Caroline Ackley and Katja Holtz.  Daniel wrote about gender identity for his final essay. In Defence of Gender Identities By Daniel Newman…

UCL Medical Anthropology Outreach: Regional Summer Challenge

This is Part I in our series on UCL Medical Anthropology outreach over the summer.  We partnered with UCL Widening Participation.  If you’d like to know more about the work of the Access and Widening Participation Team, please see their website. UCL Medical Anthropology Outreach: Regional Summer Challenge By Caroline Ackley and Katja Holtz For…

Ethical Dilemmas from New Delhi to Dharamsala

An objective of my research sought to understand whether a concept of ‘mental health’ exists amongst the TCiE (in contrast to the Western definition of mental health that has been developed by UN/WHO). Interestingly, the UN definition appeared incomplete to respondents as it fails to address ethics.

*New paper* ‘Do our bodies know their ways?’ Villagization, food insecurity, and ill-being in Ethiopia’s Lower Omo Valley

Some results from my research in Ethiopia are now available, ahead of publication in African Studies Review. The paper, co-authored with Lucie Buffavand, is a product of several years work in the lower Omo valley, where a massive hydroelectric dam and sugar plantations are reshaping the landscape and people’s opportunities to live within it. We investigated the experience of people subjected to a campaign of ‘villagization’ – resettlement associated with the establishment of plantations on lands previously used for farming, herding, and foraging.

Welcome to Medical Anthropology at UCL

Welcome to Medical Anthropology at University College London. Medical Anthropology examines how health and well-being are socially and culturally constituted in comparative and transnational contexts and the ways in which culture influences the experience of illness, the practice of medicine and the process of healing for the individual and community. It explores how the experiences and perceptions of the body, self or notion of the individual or person influence the illness experience. It is also concerned with how cultural values and practices dynamically shape and are themselves shaped by biomedical research and practice and non-Western medicines and healing traditions. This blog presents current and emerging research within Medical Anthropology at UCL and abroad, and it offers a forum for exchange and discussion within social science and medical communities.

Medical Anthropology Seminar Series 2017

James Fairhead from the University of Sussex gave the final talk of the Spring 2017 Medical Anthropology Seminar Series. His talk was titled ‘Understanding social resistance to Ebola response in the Forest Region of the Republic of Guinea: An anthropological perspective.’

The Material Culture of Failure

What happens when objects behave unexpectedly or fail to do what they ‘should’? Even when materials, and the institutions in which they are embedded, perform mechanically in the way in which they were designed, they may fail to ‘socially’ do what is expected of them. Who defines failure? Is failure always bad? Rather than viewing concepts such as failure, incoherence or incompetence as antithetical to social life, this innovative new book examines the unexpected and surprising ways in which failure, for better or for worse, can lead to productive and creative results.

Revisiting Critical Medical Anthropology in Oaxaca, Mexico

In January a five day event co-organised by a team from UCL Medical Anthropology and CIESAS in Mexico in the beautiful surrounding of Oaxaca City was a chance to learn a lot more about not only how different traditions of CMA have evolved in Latin America but how those carrying out research in the UK, India, West Africa and beyond are engaging, challenging and re-invigorating the space and shape of CMA .

If Mindfulness is the Answer, What is the Question?

Dr. Joanna Cook “If mindfulness is the answer, what is the question?” was a talk given by Dr Joanna Cook, UCL (Presentation with Q&A) as part of the Round Table “Mindfulness in Public Discourse” which was held at the Centre of Buddhist Studies, SOAS University of London on 8 December 2018. In the UK, mindfulness…

Rebecca Skloot & the Lacks Family on Communication in Science and Medicine

By Rebecca Irons Rebecca Skloot’s 2010 book “The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks” is one that many of us may be familiar with. An exploration of the human story behind the HeLa cells, the book deals with more than simply an historical account of biomedical research; it is essentially a book about race, bioethics, and…

Dialogical (de)Medicalisation in British Abortion Activism

by Leah Eades At March for Life, Britain’s largest anti-abortion demonstration, I found myself face-to-face with a sign exhorting me to “love them both”. The both referred to the smiling mother and baby also pictured. Underneath, a subtitle read: “Abortion: kills one, hurts another”. The notion that abortions hurts the women who have them was…

Focusing on Funding: Thoughts from a Maternal Health Workshop in Johannesburg

By Rebecca Irons This September I had the great privilege to attend a early-careers workshop in Johannesburg, South Africa, “Towards Universal Health Coverage (UHC): promoting and responding to Maternal, Neonatal, Child and Adolescent Health (MNCAH)”. Jointly organised by the South-African based Human Sciences Research Council (HSRC), Aga Khan University in Kenya, and Imperial College London,…

Charting Troubled Waters: Documenting Ecological and Social Change in the Lower Omo Valley

By David-Paul Pertaub SIDERA – Shifting Inequality Research Dynamics in Ethiopia: Research to Application – is an 18 month ESRC funded inter-disciplinary research project exploring the relationship between conflict, poverty and environmental degradation in the lower Omo region of Ethiopia.  Kicking off this month, the project comprises three working groups based in three different countries…

Talking shit, or comments on ‘Three Achievements of Dirt: Disgust, Humour, Emphasis’

On the 12th October Sjaak van der Geest (University of Amsterdam) presented his paper entitled ‘Three Achievements of Dirt: Disgust, Humour, Emphasis’ as part of the UCL Medical Anthropology Seminar Series, currently dealing with dirt and pollution. Rebecca Williams and Jed Stevenson comment below, followed by a response to both from Sjaak van der Geest. Images and captions…

Intersubjectivities of Care

Intersubjectivities of Care By Timothy Carroll   The ‘Subjects and Subjectivities of Care’ conference was held on 14 October at UCL Anthropology. Co-organised by Jo Cook (UCL) and Catherine Trundle (Victoria, NZ), the one-day conference was an exciting, thoroughly enjoyable, and critically engaging opportunity to think through the dynamics of care. The intimate setting, with…

Critical Medical Anthropology: perspectives from/of Latin America

Between the 31st October and the 2nd of November UCL will host a series of seminars to explore contemporary scholarship on critical medical anthropology, with academics from and focused on Latin America. Rita Laura Segato:  “ History and patriarchal violence” Tuesday 31st October, 12.30pm, PUW Sem. room 2. Jaime Breilh: “The relevance of critical Latin American science…