SOAS University of London

Department of Anthropology and Sociology

754 Medical Anthropology: Global Perspectives

Module Code:
FHEQ Level:
Taught in:
Term 1

This module provides an introduction to the perspectives and practices of medical anthropology. It offers insights into the evolution of modern medicine in relation to institutional, cultural, and ethical discourses. The key aim is to engage in a cultural critique of bioscientific and biomedical assumptions, while also upholding a serious engagement with biomedical knowledge/mindsets in order to explore what they can offer anthropology.

We will discuss topics such as the normal body, medicalization, social construction, subjectivity, and biopolitics; thus familiarizing students with scholarly and timely debates on how biotechnological developments have transformed individuals and communities and the way they experience life and health. In other words, we ask how experience is formed by institutional and scientific paradigms, and what epistemological and ethical issues arise from techno scientific developments. Introducing students to relevant theoretical framework as well as ethnographies, the module will underscore phenomenological perspectives as well as analyses of the political economy of health. Students will explore the moral implications of these ongoing cultural shifts, and will be asked to consider these debates as frameworks to engage with current affairs, pandemics, epidemic, conflicts, and global conditions pertaining to health, inequality, conflict, and justice. There is a strong cross-cultural and comparative approach in this module, manifest in our engagement with ethnographic and theoretical contributions from the so-called Global South.


Compulsory module for all students on:

  • MA Medical Anthropology and Mental Health

Guided option for students on:

  • MA Anthropology of Global Futures and Sustainability
  • MRes Social Anthropology
  • MRes Social Anthropology + Intensive Language

This module is also a School-wide Open Option. No prerequisites.

  • Note: May be taken in combination with either 753 Mind, Culture and Psychiatry or 755 Anthropological Approaches to the Body and Embodiment, but not both. Combination of all three open only to students on the MA Medical Anthropology and Mental Health and the MRes Social Anthropology.


Important notice regarding changes to programmes and modules