Defining Women’s Health: A Dozen Messages from More than 150 Ethnographies


Although the women’s health research agenda has been largely defined by Western biomedicine and public health, anthropology has much to offer in terms of defining and understanding women’s health from the perspective of women themselves. Through the in-depth qualitative tradition of ethnography, anthropologists have documented women’s health concerns around the globe, producing a large and constantly expanding literature that is rich and provocative. This article summarizes a dozen major messages about women’s health that emerge from the ethnographic literature, now consisting of more than 150 volumes. These volumes are listed in the article, and some primary examples are described as representative of anthropology’s contribution to knowledge production in women’s health.