Health, Culture and Society

Anth 202

MF 11:30-12:45

      SUNY College at Geneseo

Fall 2013


Instructor: Kristi J. Krumrine

Office: Fraser 118

Phone: (585) 281.3821 (cell)

              (585) 245.5043 (office)


Office Hours: MF 1-2:30 or by appointment



            TA: Arnub Farooqi,

            Office hrs: W 11:30-12:30  Sturges 14



Course Outline

 Description and Objectives

This course explores health and medical issues from a cross-cultural and interdisciplinary perspective, highlighting the diverse ways in which different cultures deal with illness and disease. These issues are central to medical anthropology, a fast-growing subfield of anthropology. Topics include the experience and distribution of illness, the prevention and treatment of sickness, traditional healing practices, social epidemiology, and the effects of globalization and political policies on disease transmission and treatment. Course material will be presented through lecture, films, group presentations, and processed in class discussions.


Learning Outcomes
•    Students will demonstrate their knowledge of the relationship between health and culture; their understanding of theoretical perspectives that seek to explain the relationship between disease, illness and culture in different societies; the variety of cultural and social institutions that manage health services; and the range of social and cultural health issues that people confront across cultures through examinations and class discussions.
•    Students will demonstrate their ability to apply the anthropological approach as well as methods and theories of the discipline by researching and analyzing health issues, sick roles, patterns of inequality, etc. in presentation and paper assignments.
•    Students will demonstrate their understanding of cultural institutions and diversity through examinations and class discussions.
•    Students will demonstrate their ability to compare and contrast their own culture with others from the perspective of cultural relativism (multiculturalism) in classroom discussions and critiques.

Social Science Core
This course fulfills one course in the social science and one course in the multicultural general education requirements. The guidelines for social science core courses stress the development of the following characteristics of a responsible member of society:
•    an acquaintance with major empirical, analytical, or theoretical approaches to human behavior, institutions or culture;
•    an acquaintance with social, economic, political, or moral alternatives;
•    an acquaintance with major problems, issues, institutions, practices or trends in the social world;
•    a capacity to express ideas clearly, coherently and grammatically in written form as one component of the evaluation process. This written work must total at least 1500 words, at least half of which must be prepared outside of class.


Required Texts

Singer and Baer (2012) Introducing Medical Anthropology, 2nd ed. Rowman and Littlefield Publishers.

Fadiman, Anne (1997) The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down: A Hmong Child, Her American Doctors, and the Collision of Two Cultures. Farrar, Straus, and Giroux.

Dettwyler (1994) Dancing Skeletons: Life and Death in West Africa. Waveland Press.


Class Requirements

There will be 2 exams in this course, each worth 25% of the final grade. The exams will cover lectures, readings and films and will emphasize your conceptual grasp of the course material. All exams must be taken at the scheduled time. Due dates are outlined below.


Students are required to write a paper on a topic of their choice and present their findings in an in-class presentation. Presentations should be approximately 20 minutes in duration and should include visual aides, such as PowerPoint. The presentation should include a works cited slide, in-text citations, and any images used should also be referenced (you can include a small caption under each image with the author, year and page number). The presentation grade comprises 15% of the total course requirements. Papers should be approximately 10-12 pages in length and include a minimum of 8 bibliographic sources (3 of which may be from the internet). The paper is worth 20% of the course requirement and must be turned in on the day of the final examination. Papers should be typed, double-spaced, stapled and include a cover page with a title. They should follow conventions for writing according to anthropological guidelines and include works cited. Students are required to work in groups of 2 on the paper and presentation. Both students MUST contribute equally to the project; please let me know ASAP if you feel that your partner is not putting in equal time. Due dates are outlined below.


The remaining components of the final grade include two critiques of the assigned readings or films, worth 10%, and participation in class discussions and fellow student presentations, worth 5% of the final grade. The critiques can be turned in any time during the semester, before Thanksgiving break.


Academic Honesty Policy

Plagiarism, cheating and other forms of academic dishonesty will not be tolerated and will be dealt with on a case by case basis. Please refer to the Undergraduate Bulletin (pgs. 373-375)  regarding SUNY Geneseo policies (available through the college webpage).


Course requirements and important dates:

Exam #1                                              125                              10/11              

         #2                                              125                              12/13              

Presentation                                          75                              TBA

Paper                                                   100                             12/13

Critiques (2)                                          50                              9/7-11/15  

Participation                                          25     


* The second column represents the points each assignment is worth out of a total of 500 possible points for the course.


Weekly Schedule and Reading Assignments

Reading assignments are meant to reinforce and compliment the class lectures, images, and discussions and in no way replace them. Consequently, your regular attendance is essential for understanding class topics.  I will take attendance before class, for my own records, and will take attendance into consideration when determining border-line grades. Keeping current with the reading assignments will make it easier to study for exams and facilitate class discussions. * Additional readings are available on mycourses ** Students are responsible for any changes in the syllabus that are announced in class.


Week 1          8/26-30           Course Overview/ Medical Anthropology Theory &


                                                Read: S&B Ch. 1-2; Fadiman Ch. 1


Week 2          9/2                   Labor Day- no class

9/6                   Defining Health and Illness

                                                Read: S&B Ch. 3; Fadiman Ch. 2-5;



Week 3          9/9-13             Ethnomedicine and Healing

                                                Read: S&B Ch. 4; Fadiman Ch. 6-8; Konner

                                                Film: “The Split Horn: A Hmong Shaman in America”


Week 4          9/16-20           Anthropology and Biomedicine                                                                                      

                                             Read: Fadiman 9-12; Farmer & Kleinman


Week 5          9/23-27           Personhood

                                                Read: Fadiman Ch. 13-16; Murphy


Week 6          9/30-10/4        Race, Ethnicity & Class

Read: S&B Ch. 5; Fadiman Ch.17-19; Heurtin-Roberts & Reisin

Week 7          10/7                 Gender & Health

                                                Read: Dettwyler; West; Martin

                        10/11               Exam #1


Week 8          10/14               Fall break- have fun!

                        10/18               The Lifecourse: Birth, Life & Death

                                                Read: Dettwyler; Small; Scheper-Hughes


Week 9          10/21-25         Biocultural Perspective/Evolution, Health and


                        Read: Dettwyler; Eaton et al; Oliwenstein


Week 10        10/28-11/1      Infectious Disease

                                                Read: S&B Ch. 6; Dettwyler; Farmer

Film: “The Plague Fighters”


Week 11        11/4-8             Food Security and Nutrition

                                                Read: S&B Ch. 7; Dettwyler; TBA


Week 12        11/11-15         Health and Environment

                                                Read: BSS Ch. 12; Dettwyler; TBA    


Week 13        11/18-22         Student Presentations


Week 14        11/25               Guest Presentation

                        11/29               Happy Thanksgiving!


Week 15        12/2-6             Student Presentations


Week 16        12/9                 Student Presentations


                        12/13               Final exam and turn in final papers, 12-3 pm