Skip to content Skip to navigation

Smoke and Mirror in Global Health

anthro 182N
Tuesday, June 26, 2018

Professor Matthew Kohrman and the department’s Academic Technology Specialist and Lecturer Claudia Engel just wrapped up teaching their Introductory Seminar, Anthro 182N, "Smoke and Mirror in Global Health". 

The course is based on Prof. Kohrman's research about the biopolitics of cigarette smoking, focusing on China (Kohrman et al 2018). It blends seminar style discussions of readings with hands-on practical sessions that lead students through the process of conceptualizing, designing, and developing a Critical Industry Visualization (CIV), where heavy emphasis is placed upon practical learning and data visualization. Student research projects span the entire globe and aim to depict in a unique way questions like the means by which tobacco has been framed as a health problem, how its harm has been historically depoliticized, and how alternative politics might be generated.

Nurtured by weekly in-class workshopping sessions, students receive multiple rounds of feedback from instructors, peers, and invited visual design experts. The class takes advantage of the innovative teaching space in Lathrop 190, provided by the Office of the Vice Provost for Teaching and Learning (see page HERE). It provides the flexibility to reconfigure the room for different learning scenarios, from discussions to small group peer reviews and presentations of work in progress to the entire group. 

CIVs developed by students this year include the commodification of the cigar in Cuba, the effect of tobacco farming in Malawi, cigarette branding for male youth in Indonesia, and tobacco smuggling in South America.

Successful CIVs are invited for long-term hosting on Stanford’s Cigarette Citadels website and can be viewed here:

Matthew Kohrman, Gan Quan, Liu Wennan, Robert N. Proctor (2018): "Poisonous Pandas: Chinese Cigarette Manufacturing in Critical Historical Perspectives." Stanford University Press.

All photos courtesy of Claudia Engel.