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Medical Anthropology

Concentration in Applied Medical Anthropology

The subfield of Medical Anthropology brings together scholars and practitioners trained in cultural, biological and linguistic anthropology to investigate the development and distribution of health and illness within populations, alternative frameworks for defining and explaining health states, the experience of illness, and disease prevention and treatment systems. Medical anthropologists employ a range of scientific and humanistic approaches, investigating such issues as: individual and collective constructions of health and illness; health disparities; prevention initiatives; medical care; and caregiving in global perspective. Medical anthropologists favor a holistic orientation, working to understand the dynamics of health and illness within the context of larger social, ecological and political economic processes.

Faculty members in this concentration share a broad interest in applying anthropological theory and methods to work toward health equity. Their specific teaching and research foci include: racial, gender, and economic health inequalities; alcohol and drug abuse; reproductive and maternal-child health; labor issues and occupational health; migration; stress; mental health; human biology and adaptation; nutrition and food access; and aging. Students in this concentration have completed practica with hospitals and clinics, non-profit and grassroots agencies, and both governmental and non-governmental organizations.

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Core Courses:

The Medical M.A. Program requires 36 hours of completed coursework. All students must take the following five courses to form the basis for competence as anthropologists, regardless of the student's concentration/s and chosen applied specialization.

• History of Anthropological Theory (ANTH 7200)
• Methods in Anthropology (ANTH 7075)
• Anthropological Data Analyses (ANTH 7076)
• Applied Anthropology and Development (ANTH 7255)
• Anthropological Applications (ANTH 7985)

Relevance to concentrations is incorporated into each course, and students are encouraged to focus their practical exercises within their own areas of interest in their chosen applied field. In addition to the common core courses, medical anthropology students must also take these two concentration-specific courses:

• Medical Anthropology (ANTH 6511)
• Medical Anthropology Theory and Practice (ANTH 7511)

Elective Courses (select examples):

• Human Adaptations (ANTH 6111)
• Psychological Anthropology (ANTH 6251)
• Health, Culture, and Environmental Justice (ANTH 6510)
• Complementary and Alternative Medicine (ANTH 6512)
• Alcohol, Drugs, and Culture (ANTH 6531)
• Nutritional Anthropology (ANTH 6541)
• Culture, Sex, and Childbirth (ANTH 6551)
• Race and Health Disparities (ANTH 6571)
• Culture, Society, and Mental Health (ANTH 6595)
• Seminar in Biocultural Anthropology (ANTH 7100-8100)
• Community, Culture, and Program Evaluation (ANTH 7250)
• Biocultural Epidemiology (ANTH 7521-8521)
• Special Topics in Medical Anthropology (ANTH 7590-99)

In addition, students may take Directed Readings, Research, or Writing courses, courses from the Globalization, Development, and Culture concentration, and/or collateral classes from related departments. Students should construct a course of study in consultation with their faculty advisor.

All Masters candidates must complete a practicum. The practicum is designed to provide hands-on experience in the student's area of interest. This allows the student to gain practical experience and make contacts in a variety of organizations and agencies and can lead to gainful employment. For a complete description of information on requirements, admission, and courses offered, see: Degree Program, Requirements, and Course Descriptions.


Current faculty members who deal with health issues include: Dr. Linda Bennett, Dr. Michael Duke, Dr. Ruthbeth Finerman, Dr. Kathryn Hicks and Dr. Charles Williams. In addition, many alumni, community partners, and other practicing anthropologists live in the Memphis area and contribute to our program.

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Department of Anthropology | 316 Manning Hall | Memphis, TN | 38152-3530 | Phone: 901-678-2080 | Fax: 901-678-2069
Last Updated: 6/25/13