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DRPS : Course Catalogue : School of Social and Political Science : Postgrad (School of Social and Political Studies)

Postgraduate Course: Anthropology of Global Health (PGSP11379)

Course Outline
SchoolSchool of Social and Political Science CollegeCollege of Humanities and Social Science
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 11 (Postgraduate) AvailabilityAvailable to all students
SCQF Credits20 ECTS Credits10
SummaryMedical anthropologists often deal directly with problems in global health initiatives, whose agendas are frequently intertwined with international development institutions. Increasingly a link is being made (and contested) between disease control and poverty reduction. Some anthropologists who work in applied contexts attempt to translate public health knowledge and policy into effective action. Other anthropologists reflect critically on how governmental health initiatives are ever more central to everyday life and how global health organizations are producing a transnational government of the body. This takes place through processes of globalization, as 'universal' concepts and practices related to health and illness travel to different parts of the world and interact with local agendas. In this course, we explore the tensions between different standpoints alongside case studies on how anthropologists engage with global health agendas.

This course is affiliated with the University's Global Health Academy,
Course description The term 'global health' is used to refer to our interconnected health in a globalised economy, to the goal of achieving universal coverage for basic health services, and to the emergence of transnational systems of governance and delivery in response to those challenges. This course explores the distinctive contribution that an anthropological approach to globalisation and health can make to this rapidly changing field of research and practice. This contribution ranges from the translation of public health knowledge and policy into effective action in specific social and cultural contexts, to critical reflection on how global health organizations are producing a transnational government of the body.

The course takes a problem-based approach and focuses on 'grand challenges' in global health, such as those posed by global pandemics, humanitarian crisis, or the limited reach of child and maternal health programmes in 'resource-poor' locations. Through a series of ethnographic case studies, we will examine how the concepts and practices associated with global health interventions travel to different parts of the world and interact with local agendas. This will provide the basis for an exploration of the possibilities for anthropological engagement with global health problems, institutions and programmes.

Outline content

1. Introduction: What and where is global health?
This session will explore the emergence of 'global health' as a concept, a network of institutions, and a problem. We will discuss anthropology's relationship to global public health practice; from positions that work within the frame of public health to those that advocate a more critical repositioning of relations with these practices.

2. Humanitarian Crisis: Famine, War, and Natural Disasters
Today, images of suffering in famine, war and the aftermath of natural disasters are beamed around the world, demanding a response from people sitting in living rooms in the US or the UK. How, this class explores, have we all become implicated in the suffering of strangers? This session will focus on humanitarian biomedicine as a particular form of development work, entailing particular moral sentiments and ethical hazards. We will explore the emergence of suffering and crisis as key problems in humanitarianism and will introduce current anthropological thinking about the politics and valuation of human life that humanitarian biomedicine entails.

3. Sanitation and hygiene: public infrastructure, education and technology
Initiatives to improve sanitation and hygiene have long been central to the work of public health. In the Nineteenth Century, they also became integral to colonial systems of governance and missionisation. This session will examine contemporary global health interventions that seek to improve access to sanitary facilities and to educate people in hygienic practices, in light of their colonial and postcolonial histories. A series of case studies that describe specific attempts to improve public infrastructure, to promote public health messages, and to develop affordable technological solutions will introduce us to key anthropological understandings of power relations, and how they play out in the context of global health governance.

4. Maternal and child health
Maternal and infant mortality rates remain a key indicator for human development. Despite over a century of interventions and the attention drawn to these issue by the Millennium Development Goals, maternal and infant morality rates in many countries have remained unchanged or have deteriorated. In this session we will examine the ways in which philanthropic foundations, multilateral agencies, non-governmental organisations and governmental agencies have shaped maternal and child health services in low and middle-income countries. Particular emphasis will be placed on the problem of service delivery to 'hard to reach populations', and the challenges of achieving universal coverage for health promotion, prevention and treatment activities, such as immunization, midwifery training or obstetric care.

5. HIV and AIDS
So far, we have tracked the emergence of global health frameworks and institutions through responses to a range of long-term public health challenges, including those posed by humanitarian crisis, by public sanitation, and maternal and child health. In this session we will examine the ways in which the values, institutions and relationships that are today associated with global health came to fruition with the global HIV crisis in the 1990s and early 2000s. As wealthy countries responded to their own HIV crises with the provision of anti-retroviral drugs, the lack of availability of these drugs in Africa and Asia spawned a global movement for access to life-saving treatments. In this session we will draw on case studies from across Africa to examine the ways in which access to treatment campaigns transformed the global pharmaceutical industry, the status of the humanitarian organisation in the global health arena, and relationships between citizens and states.

6. Drug resistance: malaria, tuberculosis and bacterial infections
If access to life-saving drugs was the pre-eminent global health challenge of the 2000s, the present decade is dominated by concerns about the threat to the efficacy of those drugs that is posed by growing drug resistance. This session will draw on case studies relating to artemisinin resistance, multi-drug resistant tuberculosis, and resistance to broad-spectrum antibiotics. It will examine the growing emphasis on techniques and technologies of diagnosis that has followed from these concerns, the development of innovative technological solutions, and the emergence of new mechanisms of behavioural surveillance and health governance.

7. Epidemics and Pandemics
This session will focus on the relationship between globalization and infectious diseases, with a focus on responses to emerging disease outbreaks such as SARS, Ebola Virus Disease, or Zika. Globalization is here understood as the intensified social and material connectivity of people, things, and animals across disparate spaces and scales. The lecture will focus on two themes. First is the understanding of globalization as a mechanism for the spread of infections. Second is the critique of global networks of disease control under regimes of biosecurity. The lecture will review the origins of biosecurity practices and the major anthropological critiques of it.

8. Chronic Disease
The current global health infrastructure emerged largely in response to the threats posed by acute illness episodes, whether in relation to obstetric-related injuries, diarrhoea, malaria, or emerging infectious diseases. Yet, as treatment for diseases like HIV become more accessible, as the long-term effects of survival from emergent diseases such as Ebola Virus Disease unfold, and as the incidence of life-style related diseases, such as cancer of diabetes, grow, governments in low and middle income countries are increasingly having to respond to the challenges that accompany widespread chronic disease. This session will introduce anthropological perspectives on the modes of care and wellbeing that emerge in societies that deal with these issues in the context of resource scarcity.

9. Global Health Research
This session will explore the politics of global health research. It will provide an historical overview of the shift from tropical medicine research to global health research, before introducing critical anthropological perspectives on the generation of value in international clinical trials, and the negotiations over data, medical practice, capacity building, and ethics entailed by a new paradigm of 'north-south collaborations'. Finally, it will examine the ways in which the model of the randomised controlled trial has transformed the ways in which the efficacy of health interventions are measured, and the kinds of interventions that become fundable and desirable in contemporary global health.

10. Anthropological Engagements
This session will provide the opportunity for reflection on the distinctive contribution that anthropology can make to global health. We will draw on the readings we have covered throughout the course to reflect on the value of ethnographic evidence, how anthropologists develop their arguments, and the possibilities and limitations of anthropological writing.

Student Learning Experience:

The course is hands-on and seminar based. It will consist of a combination of lectures, group activities, presentations, debates and discussions. Students will be expected to undertake all of the core reading for each week and to contribute substantially to the online and class learning environment. We encourage you to make connections between theory, ethnography and global health policy. The course provides an introduction to anthropological perspectives on global health and is open to students with backgrounds in social sciences, natural sciences and the humanities.
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Co-requisites
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements None
Information for Visiting Students
High Demand Course? Yes
Course Delivery Information
Academic year 2018/19, Available to all students (SV1) Quota:  35
Course Start Semester 2
Timetable Timetable
Learning and Teaching activities (Further Info) Total Hours: 200 ( Lecture Hours 10, Seminar/Tutorial Hours 10, Programme Level Learning and Teaching Hours 4, Directed Learning and Independent Learning Hours 176 )
Assessment (Further Info) Written Exam 0 %, Coursework 100 %, Practical Exam 0 %
Additional Information (Assessment) Assessment will be based on a book review essay (30%) and a long essay (70%). The review essay should answer the question 'what can anthropology contribute to global health?' with reference to a book-length monograph from the list provided. The book should be used as a peg for a lively review that explores the contribution of anthropology to contemporary debates in global health more widely. The long essay will be based on an essay question provided by the course convenor.
Feedback Assessment: Students will be expected to reflect on feedback from their book review essay and build on the marker's comments when developing their long essay.

Formative assessment: Students will be given individual oral feedback on essay plans for the second assignment.
No Exam Information
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. show an advanced understanding of both applied and critical anthropology in relation to international health
  2. grasp the relationship between globalization and health from an anthropological perspective
  3. show an appreciation of how an anthropological understanding of international health can be applied to health systems in the U.K.
  4. engage anthropological arguments in relation to health policy and practice and clearly present those arguments in seminars and essays.
  5. set their own anthropological research agenda in relation to global health issues
Reading List
Please see course handbook for the current reading list.

Arnold, D. 1993. Colonizing the Body: State Medicine and Epidemic Disease in Nineteenth-Century India. Berkeley: University of California Press.
Baer, H.A., Singer, M. & Susser, I. 1997. Medical Anthropology and the World System: A Critical Perspective. Westport, CT: Bergin & Garvey.
Briggs C & C Mantini-Briggs 2003. Stories in the Time of Cholera: Racial Profiling during a Medical Nightmare. Berkeley, Los Angeles, London. University of California Press.
Brodwin P, 1996 Medicine and Morality In Haiti: the Contest for Healing Power. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge
Desjarlais, R., Eisenberg, L., Good, B.J. & Kleinman, A. (Eds.). 1995. World Mental Health: Priorities, Problems, and Responses in Low-Income Countries. New York: Oxford University Press.
Farmer P, 1992. AIDS and Accusation: Haiti and the geography of blame. Berkeley, Los Angeles and London: University of California Press.
Farmer, P. 2003. Pathologies of Power: Health, Human Rights, and the New War on the Poor. Berkeley: University of California Press.
Hacking, I. 1999. The Social Construction of What? Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.
Hewlett B & B Hewlett 2006. Ebola, Culture and Politics: The Anthropology of an Emerging Disease. Wadsworth.
Justice J, 1986. Policies, Plans, & People: Culture and Health Development in Nepal. Berkeley, Los Angeles, London: University of California Press.
Moerman, D. 2002. Meaning, Medicine and the 'Placebo Effect'. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Ong A & S Collier (eds) 2005. Global Assemblages: Technology, Politics, and Ethics as Anthropological Problems. Malden MA, Oxford, Carlton: Blackwell Publishing
Petryna, A. 2002. Life Exposed: Biological Citizens After Chernobyl. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.
Scheper-Hughes, N. 1992. Death Without Weeping: The Violence of Everyday Life in Brazil. Berkeley: University of California Press.
Skultans V and Cox J, 2000. Anthropological approaches to psychological medicine: Crossing Bridges. London and Philadelphia: Jessica Kingsly Publishers.
Treichler, P. 1999. How to Have a Theory in an Epidemic: Cultural Chronicles of AIDS. Durham, NC: Duke University Press.
Trostle, J. 2005. Epidemiology and culture. Cambridge, Cambridge University Press.
Vaughan M, 1991. Curing their ills: colonial power and African illness. Stanford University Press.
Young, A. 1995. The Harmony of Illusions: Inventing Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.
Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills Not entered
KeywordsNot entered
Course organiserDr Ayaz Qureshi
Tel: (0131 6)51 5361
Course secretaryMr Jack Smith
Tel: (0131 6)51 1485
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