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AN2004 - Medical Anthropology: Health, Science and Biopolitics

[Offered in odd-numbered years]

Credit points: 3
Year: 2021
Student Contribution Band: Band 4
Administered by: College of Arts, Society & Education

This subject provides an introduction to the history and philosophy of medicine and to the three broad approaches to medical anthropology: interpretive; critical; and biocultural. Medical Anthropology explores a variety of medical systems that human groups have developed through time to maintain the health of individuals and communities. Emphasis is placed on understanding health and illness as culturally and politically situated phenomena. The Western medical scientific paradigm is situated philosophically and historically as a culturally informed knowledge system to be considered comparatively. Through case studies drawn from around the world, the subject explores issues such as human-technology relationships, global health programs, drug use, addiction and mental health, theories of bodies and minds, shamanism and traditional healing practices, and the consequences of inequality on health.

Learning Outcomes

  • to identify the ways socio-cultural and political issues relate to health and illness;
  • to locate the development of the Western and non- Western systems of knowledge within a broader history of ideas and technologies;
  • to critically analyse relationships between health, social development and inequality;
  • to demonstrate knowledge of a range of theoretical perspectives in medical anthropology for critically considering human technology, human-environment relationships as they relate to health and illness.

Subject Assessment

  • Written > Test/Quiz 1 - (30%) -
  • Participation > Class participation - (20%) -
  • Written > Essay (including multi-draft) 1 - (50%) - .


Study Period 1, External
Census Date 25-Mar-2021
Coordinator: Assoc. Professor Simon Foale
Lecturers: Dr Michael Wood, Professor Rosita Henry, Assoc. Professor Simon Foale.
Workload expectations:

The student workload for this 3 credit point subject is approximately 130 hours.

  • 12 hours - Online Activities
  • 13 hours online content
  • assessment and self-directed study
Method of Delivery: WWW - LearnJCU

Note: Minor variations might occur due to the continuous Subject quality improvement process, and in case of minor variation(s) in assessment details, the Subject Outline represents the latest official information.