This immersion in health and culture focuses on the shifting configurations of health and culture in a globalizing world. Health beliefs, including notions about bodily integrity or emotional well-being, illness causation, and diagnostic practices, and the experiences, expressions, and treatments of human ailments unfold in concrete cultural contexts. Every society has some form of health care system, which is minimally administered by community members or specialized practitioners. By moving beyond the lens of western biomedicine, the immersion provides students with a set of tools for analyzing the impact of culture on how health care is delivered, how health symptoms are interpreted and communicated by patients and health providers, and how costs for treatment are calculated and managed in relation to perceived benefits. Courses examine the interrelation between health and culture from a number of perspectives and contexts, including the cultural realities within which bodies are meaningfully constituted or in some cases enhanced by technology, the culture-specific communicative or representational health practices, the socially constituted experiences of trauma, death, suffering, and healing, and the various culturally mediated approaches to health care costs and remedies.
Notes about this immersion:
At least one course must be taken from either anthropology (ANTH) or sociology (SOCI).
Choose three of the following:
Ritual and Performance
The world’s cultural diversity is most vividly and dynamically displayed through ritual and festival. Ritual is anything but superfluous; rather, some of the most important work of culture is accomplished through the performance of ritual. Through cross-cultural comparison, by way of readings and films, we explore the following dimensions of ritual: symbols, embodiment, emotion, discipline, contestation of tradition and authenticity, and the orchestration of birth, childhood socialization, gender, maturation, marriage, community, hierarchy, world renewal, and death. Written expression is enhanced through drafting, revision, and peer review.
Cuisine, Culture, and Power
Physically, culturally, and socially, humans live through food and drink. Spanning the globe, as nearly limitless omnivores, humans have developed myriad ways of collecting and cultivating food and taking advantage of local environments. We also put food to work for us socially by creating cuisine. Through cuisine, we forge and nourish relationships, commune with deities, and through luxury choices, demonstrate our "taste" and lay claim to elite status. Through the cultural practices of production and consumption of food and drink, we wield power. Food and drink consumption patterns have sustained slavery, poverty, malnutrition, and illegal immigration, and have laid waste to the environment. In this class, we explore physical, cultural, social, political, and economic dimensions of food and become more aware of how the private, intimate act of a bite connects us to the rest of humanity.
Bodies and Culture
Our bodies are more than mere physical entities; they are conditioned by culture, society, and history. We will take a comparative approach to the cultural construction of bodies and the impact of ethnic, gender, and racial ideologies on body practices (i.e. surgical alteration, mutilation, beautification, surrogacy, erotica). We will critically investigate the global formation of normative discourses of the body (regarding sexuality, AIDS/illness, reproduction, fat/food) in medical science, consumer culture, and the mass media. The course features discussion, writing, and project-oriented research, encouraging students to acquire a range of analytic skills through a combination of text interpretation and research.
Genocide and Post-Conflict Justice
The destruction and survival of societies often hinges upon the ideas and the social, cultural constructions of identity and belonging. When ideas fail to incorporate people, essentialist categories of identity, historical memory, and accounts of extreme violence become interrelated, potent sources of destruction. Slavery and exclusive ownership of resources leave people starving or living in perilously polluted environments. Globalizing cultural economies threaten local systems and self-representation. Group identities may be sites of crises within nation-states and global political, economic, and cultural processes. In this course, we will take critical, anthropological approaches to studies of ethnocide, genocide, and post-conflict justice. Students will use critical, anthropological approaches to assess ethnocides and genocides from the 19th century forced assimilation and slaughter of Native Americans and Amazonian Indians to more recent genocides in Cambodia, Bosnia, Rwanda, and the Sudan, to understand the impact of globalization on techniques and technologies of genocides, the legal, moral/personal responsibility for genocides, media representations of genocides, and the affects of cultural, historical memory and social, global inequities upon future genocides. Students will use anthropological perspectives on genocide to assess post-conflict concepts of justice, reconstruction and reconciliation and local-global debates about their cultural resonance and effectiveness.
By exploring issues of gender and sexuality in a global context, students will be introduced to anthropological perspectives on the experience of men and women, as gendered subjects, in different societies and historical contexts, including colonialism, nationalism, and global capitalism. In turn, we will explore how cultural constructions of masculinity and femininity are configured by race, class, ethnicity, and sexual orientation. Course materials are drawn from an array of sources, reflecting various theoretical perspectives and ethnographic views from different parts of the world.
An introduction to the subject of communication in health care delivery and in public health campaigns, with an emphasis on interpersonal, organizational, and mass communication approaches. Also covered is the interrelationship of health behavior and communication.
Prostitution and Vice
This course will examine prostitution and vice in the United States and globally. Through empirical scholarship, various issues will be examined including issues faced by sex workers including crime, victimization, health and safety, and law and policy issues. Quality of life issues for communities will also be examined.
Health Care Economics
Examines the economics of health care, the organization of its delivery and financing, and analyzes access to care issues, the role of insurance, the regulation of hospitals, physicians, and the drug industry, the role of technology, and limits on health care spending.
This course investigates visual culture and its imagistic response to life's crises. Problems of identity and identification will be explored and confronted through works of photography, painting, mixed media, new media and film of the 19th, 20th, and 21st centuries. Beginning with the late 19th Century vogue for images of hysterical women, crippled black-sheep family members and dead loved ones (as corpses and as ghosts), we then move on to consider the last century's fascination with pain and suffering, disease and violence, struggle and survival and then the 21st century's emphasis on terrorism. Specifically, we will focus on the gendering of images and imaging as disturbing pictures work to defy the formal and theoretical distinction between private and public, personal, and collective experience and manage the often conflicting responsibilities to self, family, religion, race, nation, and society.
Art of Dying
This course explores the experience of dying a profoundly human and universal experience as it is represented by artists who are themselves facing immanent death. The unique and deeply personal process of each dying artist is crucially informed by social, cultural and historical as well as artistic contexts. The course will focus primarily on visual artists and writers living with and dying of disease - such as AIDS, cancer and cystic fibrosis as well as mortality and age. Topics such as aesthetics, artistic media, representation, grief, bereavement, illness, care-giving, aging, and the dying process will be considered within the context of issues of race, class, ethnicity, sexuality, gender and community values. Some of the artists covered will be Jo Spence, Hannah Wilke, Elias Canetti, Bob Flanagan, Herve Guibert, Tom Joslin, Laurie Lynd, Audre Lorde, Charlotte Salomon, Keith Haring, Frida Kahlo, Bas Jan Ader, Ted Rosenthal, Felix Gonzalez Torres, Keith Haring, Eric Steel, Derek Jarman, Eric Michaels, and David Wojnarowicz. We will also explore some of the critical theory of Roland Barthes, Michel Foucault, Elaine Scarry, Susan Sontag, and Ross Chambers.
Trauma and Survival in First-Person Narrative
This course introduces students to first-person narratives about trauma and survival from Latin America, the Hispanic Caribbean, U.S. Latina/o commu-nities, and Spain. Students will learn about Hispanic literature, culture, and history while exploring the themes of memory, community, and survival in autobiography, testimonial narrative, chronicle, memoir, epistolary narrative, essay, and the historical novel. Through in-class discussion, presentations, reading, and writing exercises, this course refines students’ skills in oral ex-pression, reading, writing, and critical thinking. Students will also develop research skills as they complete a project on a topic chosen in consultation with the instructor.
Bioethics and Society
This course introduces students to some of the ethical considerations and problems that arise in the context of medical practice, biological science, health care policy, and related research. Issues that may be covered include: abortion; stem cell research; human cloning; euthanasia; informed consent; human organ procurement; health care allocation and how it is approached in various countries; bioethical concerns arising from human caused climate change and other environmental issues impacting public health concerns around the globe. Students will become familiar with the concepts and principles of bioethics while engaging with case studies and related media.
Part of the philosophy immersion, the ethics immersion, the global justice immersion, the philosophy minor, the ethics minor, and the philosophy major. May also be taken to fulfill the ethical perspective, the global perspective, or as an elective.
Death and Dying
This course examines the role of loss including death in our lives and the way we give and receive support during difficult times. It also looks at how society enfranchises some grievers and disenfranchises others. Included in this course is an examination of our options as consumers of funeral and burial services, grief counseling and other products and services which can either minimize or abate our grief. Central to the course is an examination of the ethical principles which apply to abortion, euthanasia and suicide and an examination of the ways in which the choices we make may be structured to express our core values. Finally, the course explores how The American way of Death differs from that of other societies and how we might incorporate the wisdom of other cultures into our own practices.
Society, Environment, and Health
The World Health Organization (WHO) defines health as “a state of complete physical, mental, and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.” The definition has evolved to recognize the importance of social factors in determining both individual and population health. This course uses the WHO’s 2008 Report “Closing the Gap in a Generation,” as an overarching theoretical framework in analyzing upstream and downstream factors that contribute to health outcomes. Using a sociological lens, this course explores diverse factors that have positive and negative impacts on individual and population health. These include macro-factors (climate change, environmental pollution, global and/or national economies) and micro-factors (the built environment- neighborhood conditions, green spaces, poor or low quality housing, and rest and leisure spaces). The course also integrates individual behavioral choices, educational attainment and the larger role of societal discrimination against subgroups within societies, the role of institutions and their impacts on population health. The course emphasizes that health is impacted by the social circumstances into which people are born, in which they grow up, live, work, and age; the distribution of power or unjust power relations; and the level of social exclusion or inclusion.
Gender and Health
This course examines connections between gender and health that are both conceptual and empirical. Students will explore the causes of gender-based differences in health outcomes through case studies of sexual and reproductive rights, HIV/AIDS epidemics and violence. Students will also examine global gender and health trends. The course concludes with an examination of gender inequity in health care and policy implications of these inequities.
Disaster, Public Health Crisis, and Global Responses
Disasters as global states of emergency result from complex relationships between human populations and environmental hazards. Disasters threaten sustainable development, especially in the global south and among the world’s most vulnerable people. Global states of emergency incur significant human and economic costs, which, in addition to increasing demographic, environmental, socio-economic and related pressures, result in increasing population vulnerability. Explanations of the causes and consequences of disasters include examinations of how human vulnerability is impacted by interactions among diverse social, economic, and other factors with environmental hazards. We will discuss social vulnerability theories; sustainable development theories; the causes and consequences of disasters and interventions to manage and reduce these risks.
Global Exiles of War and Terror
Daily we watch, seemingly helplessly, as people are displaced from their communities, homelands, and countries and subsequently seek asylum around the world, sometimes within our own local communities. Causes of displacement include war, violence, persecution, and modes of terror that increasingly affect the lives of women and children. In addition to the loss of human life and potential, the ensuing consequences of violent displacement include poverty, disease, physical and psychological trauma, hopelessness, and vulnerability to human rights abuses. In this course, we explore how the rights and dignity of refugees can be protected. We also examine resettlement processes and, for those who are eventually repatriated, we address how they can successfully reintegrate into reconstructing societies that remain barely functional. Most importantly, we consider how the trauma of displacement can be minimized.
With a focus on forms of (in)justice in urban communities worldwide, we investigate the impact of race, class, and gender and related systems of unequal power relations on perpetuating patterns of social, political, economic, and environmental oppression (policing, hunger, pollution, violence, disease). How do ways of governing urban populations affect the lives of inner city residents and their demands for justice when attempting to navigate the everyday urban worlds? Specific course topics include both historical and contemporary perspectives on urban (in)justice locally, in Rochester NY, and nationally, across the U.S., and in a global comparative framework. Thereby the effects of crime, violence, and inequality on people in urban neighborhoods are also examined among and within nations. By the end of the semester, students should be able to identify and explain various theories that seek to explain (in)justice patterns in the urban context at local, national and global levels.
A study of the impact of science and technology on life, our view of life and of the value issues that arise from this impact.
Cyborg Theory: (Re)thinking the Human Experience in the 21st Century
The developing cybernetic organism or cyborg challenges traditional concepts of what it means to be human. Today medical science and science fiction appear to merge in ways unimagined a century ago. By exploring scientific and cultural theories, science fiction, and public experience, this class examines the history and potential of the cyborg in Western cultures.
* Students must complete courses from at least two different disciplines.
† At least one course must be taken from the "ANTH" or "SOCI" disciplines.