This interdisciplinary seminar, designed for graduate students and advanced undergraduates in Anthropology and Global Health at Yale, is designed to explore in an in-depth fashion anthropological ethnographies on many of the serious health problems facing populations in resource-poor societies around the globe. The course will focus on three major issues: (1) structural violence, poverty, and the impact of both socialism and neoliberalism on healthcare systems; (2) the impact of political violence on the health of women and men and those who deliver care in conflict settings; and (3) infections and inequalities, including both donor-drive and community-driven responses to infectious diseases. Within these three themes, many major issues of global health will be addressed. These include the health-demoting effects of poverty, racism, patriarchy, and inhumane conditions of life and labor in many countries; men’s and women’s sexuality in the era of HIV/AIDS; the politics of epidemic disease control and the role of communities, nation-states, and international organizations in responding to such crises; issues of reproductive health and the quest for reproductive rights and transitional justice in post-conflict settings; and how child health is intimately dependent upon the health and well-being of mothers and other family members.

The underlying purpose of the course is to develop students’ awareness of the political, socioeconomic, ecological, and cultural complexity of most health problems in so-called “developing” nations and the consequent need for anthropological sensitivity, contextualization, and activist involvement in the field of global health. The course is also designed to expose students to salient health issues in many parts of the world from Haiti to Pakistan. However, the primary focus of the course is on global health issues facing sub-Saharan Africa and Latin America, where anthropologists have produced the most robust ethnographic work on global health issues.