Medical Anthropology

Medical anthropology is the study of how health and illness are shaped, experienced, and understood in light of global, historical, and political forces. It is one of the most exciting subfields of anthropology and has increasingly clear relevance for students and professionals interested in the complexity of disease states, diagnostic categories, and what comes to count as pathology or health.

At Stanford some of our principal areas of inquiry include cultures of medicine, the social nature of emergent biotechnology, the economics of bodily injury, psychic expressions of disorder, the formation of social networks on health, the lived consequences of disability and inequality, and ever-changing concepts of human biological difference and race. Several of our core faculty research these issues in increasingly important geographical areas in the world today. These include Africa, Asia, and Latin America in addition to the United States and its borderlands. We engage with patients, health scientists, and larger publics at home and abroad in order to contribute to a more robust understanding of the coproduction of disease and phenomena like poverty, social status, global standing, racism, and nationalism. Our program seeks students who creatively imagine interdisciplinary approaches to health questions, wish to increase dialogue with medical professionals, and aim to rethink operative principles within science and medicine. For more information regarding the Medical Anthropology emphasis, see HERE.

Required Courses

Required: ANTHRO 90B: Theory of Culture and Social Anthropology
Required: ANTRHO 91: Methods and Evidence in Anthropology

Example of Courses within the Medical Anthropology Emphasis (20 units required)

  • ANTHRO 82: Medical Anthropology
  • ANTHRO 186: Culture and Madness: Anthropological and Psychiatric Approaches to Mental Illness