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 .

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…

Disability as Method

How do people with different forms of disabilities live the everyday? How do you dress, undress, cut your food or shake people’s hands when you have rheumatoid arthritis? How do you figure out where to get on or off the bus or pay for something at the cash when you are blind? How do you move about when your balance is affected by a painful illness? What possibilities emerge for living, sensing, thinking, and performing the everyday differently when disability enters the stage? These are the questions that drive my research and ethnographic curiosities.

Socio-demographic Shifts in Parenthood in Bogota, Colombia

I am essentially interested in what these profound socio-demographic shifts mean for people who do not have children, as well as for those who do. What does parenthood or non-parenthood look like in this context, where modern families might be unrecognisably different from those that were common just a generation ago? How common is non-parenthood and how is it viewed? What does parenthood mean to women and men with children?

Care and collaboration through the PhD cohort

Eight PhD colleagues from the Anthropology Department joined the adventure to go to Snowdonia to bond, write and share. This is just the first stop in a series of social and academic activities that look to pilot, and eventually install, a fieldwork curriculum at UCL for the research degrees that contain a considerable fieldwork component.

From dancing to dogs: the diversity of doctorates at UCL

Every year, UCL’s doctoral students in Medical Anthropology present their research plans and latest findings to fellow staff and students at an annual seminar. The latest PhD day was held on 6th June and the diverse programme demonstrated once again the breadth and depth of research in our department.