Medical Anthropology

Processes of globalization have largely been influencing the world through technological innovations, for example in communications, transport and finance, leading to unprecedented real and virtual mobility and increasing connectivity and interdependence, not least in the area of health. Urbanization processes and environmental changes are also leading to shifts in health risks and health policy priorities at different levels.

Medical anthropological research at the Institute of Social Anthropology focuses on health and well-being at global, national, and local levels, with a critical eye on health inequalities in diverse political, economic, and environmental contexts. In doing so, it also addresses the role and position of biomedicine, for example as a framing epistemology in collaboration with public health experts, but also as one of many (medical) realities explored through detailed ethnographic research in diverse local contexts with an open empirical gaze. Especially in the field of health and care, social networks and institutions play a crucial role in the preservation and transfer of knowledge and experience. These resources also help to cope more resiliently with rapid change and increasing uncertainty about health, and also create diversity and flexibility in age and gender attributions. Consequently, social resilience and empowerment, vulnerability with respect to equity and equality, and generational, gender, im/mobility and sustainability are important health-related themes of this research field.

The interdepartmental Medical Anthropology Research Group (MARG) provides a link between the Department of Social Sciences (especially the Institute of Social Anthropology), the Center for African Studies (ZASB), the Swiss Tropical and Public Health Institute (Swiss TPH; especially the Department of Epidemiology and Public Health), and the Institute of Nursing Science (INS). MARG-supported field research examines daily health actions, with a particular interest in body images, inter/intra-generational and transnational care, migration, resilience and justice, and human-animal relations and sustainability of health concepts. The head of MARG is currently PD Dr. Piet van Eeuwijk.