Medical Anthropology at the Intersections: Histories, Activisms, and Futures

In this important collection, prominent scholars who helped to establish medical anthropology as an area of study reflect on the field’s past, present, and future. In doing so, they demonstrate that medical anthropology has developed dynamically, through its intersections with activism, with other subfields in anthropology, and with disciplines as varied as public health, the biosciences, and studies of race and ethnicity. Each of the contributors addresses one or more of these intersections. Some trace the evolution of medical anthropology in relation to fields including feminist technoscience, medical history, and international and area studies. Other contributors question the assumptions underlying mental health, global public health, and genetics and genomics, areas of inquiry now central to contemporary medical anthropology. Essays on the field’s engagements with disability studies, public policy, and gender and sexuality studies illuminate the commitments of many medical anthropologists to public-health and human-rights activism. Essential reading for all those interested in medical anthropology, this collection offers productive insight into the field and its future, as viewed by some of the world’s leading medical anthropologists.Contributors. Lawrence Cohen, Didier Fassin, Faye Ginsburg, Marcia C. Inhorn, Arthur Kleinman, Margaret Lock, Emily Martin, Lynn M. Morgan, Richard Parker, Rayna Rapp, Merrill Singer, Emily A. Wentzell



Introduction: Medical Anthropology at the Intersections / Marcia C. Inhorn and Emily A. Wentzell
Part I. Histories
1. Grafting Together Medical Anthropology, Feminism, and Technoscience / Emily Martin
2. Getting at Anthropology through Medical History: Notes on the Consumption of Chinese Embryos and Fetuses in the Western Imagination / Lynn M. Morgan
3. Making Peasants Protestant and Other Projects: Medical Anthropology and Its Global Condition / Lawrence Cohen
Part II. Queries
4. That Obscure Object of Global Health / Didier Fassin
5. Medical Anthropology and Mental Health: Five Questions for the Next Fifty Years / Arthur Kleinman
6. From Genetics to Postgenomics and the Discovery of the New Social Body / Margaret Lock
Part III. Activisms
7. Anthropology and the Study of Disability Worlds / Rayna Rapp and Faye Ginsburg
8. Medical Anthropology and Public Policy: Using Research to Change the World from What It Is to What We Believe it Should Be / Merrill Singer
9. Critical Intersections and Engagements: Gender, Sexuality, Health, and Rights in Medical Anthropology / Richard Parker

Book Reviews

Hans A. Baer, Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute (N.S.) 19, 2013, pp. 423-424.

Vanessa M. Hildebrand, American Ethnologist, Vol. 40 (4), November 2013, pp. 784-786.

Laura L. Heinemann, Anthropos 108.2013, pp. 667-669

Alexandra Widmer, Bulletin of the History of Medicine, 2013, 87, pp. 475-477.

“A wonderful feat by an eminent group of scholars, this exhilarating book charts medical anthropology’s diverse intellectual history and future challenges and shows why the field is so critical for anthropological theory and practice today.”

João Biehl
Author of Vita: Life in a Zone of Social Abandonment and Will to Live: AIDS Therapies and the Politics of Survival

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“Imagining the future of medical anthropology, this collection vigorously conveys the theoretical roots of engaged social activisms committed to equity, rights, and sociopolitical change in mental health and humanitarianism, in feminist projects on technoscience and reproduction, and in initiatives related to HIV and sexuality.”

Mary-Jo DelVecchio Good
Coeditor of A Reader in Medical Anthropology: Theoretical Trajectories, Emergent Realities


Marcia C. Inhorn is the William K. Lanman, Jr. Professor of Anthropology and International Affairs at Yale University. She is past president of the Society for Medical Anthropology and the author, most recently, of The New Arab Man: Emergent Masculinities, Technologies, and Islam in the Middle East.

Emily A. Wentzell is Assistant Professor of Anthropology at the University of Iowa.