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Book Review: A Right to Health: Medicine, Marginality, and Health Care Reform in Northeastern Brazil

In A Right to Health, Jessica Scott Jerome enters familiar territory in the medical anthropology literature on Brazil, examining notions and practices of citizenship and consumerism as they relate to health-seeking behaviors. Brazil’s 1988 constitutions established health as a right belonging to all and a duty of the state. The government’s expanded role in health […]

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Book Review: Global Mental Health: Anthropological Perspectives

Global mental health is becoming a rich field of inquiry for academics and practitioners across a variety of disciplines. Anthropologists are contributing to this corpus of research by emphasizing the need to consider local idioms of distress, actively integrate context in diagnostic practice, and understand that treatment for mental illnesses is more complex than simply […]

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Book Review: Ordinary Medicine: Extraordinary Treatments, Longer Lives, and where to Draw the Line

Medicine has changed dramatically over the past 15 years, medical anthropologist Sharon R. Kaufman argues in her path- breaking Ordinary Medicine. Some of these changes have produced obvious welcome benefits. Who would not want to choose a longer and healthier life, if that is what modern medicine’s miracles can offer? But other changes are the […]

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Book Review: Bioinsecurity and Vulnerability

Bioinsecurity and Vulnerability is nothing if not timely. In the aftermath of the West African Ebola crisis, the call by editors Nancy Chen and Lesley Sharp for greater ethnographic attention to the “connections between infrastructural intent and the life-and-death consequences of biosecurity initiatives” (p. xxii) seems hauntingly prescient. Medical anthropologists and others have done much […]

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Book Review: Community Health Narratives: A Reader

As anthropologists consider ways to engage with broader audiences, reaching middle and high school students may be one way to extend the reach of the discipline beyond university settings. In Community Health Narratives, Emily Mendenhall and Kathy Wollner bring together a collection of narratives that provide rich ethnographic examples of factors influencing community health, targeting […]

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Book Review: Heartsick: The Politics of Risk, Inequality, and Heart Disease

Who gets heart disease? Why do some groups seem to have it more than others? What risk factors best explain variance in disease rates? These epidemiological questions are part of complicated social and biophysiological dynamics at the root of Shim’s Heartsick. And, as the title indicates, heartsick is also used to describe social, legal, economic, […]

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Book Review: Para-states and Medical Science: Making African Global Health

Public health systems across much of Africa are struggling. That will come as no surprise to anyone who followed the recent Ebola outbreak in West Africa, where understaffed and understocked hospitals were quickly overrun by needs that exceeded their capacity. For those who study health in Africa, the Ebola outbreak is a spectacular demonstration of […]

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Book Review: Drug Effects: Khat in Biocultural and Socioeconomic Perspective

Khat (Catha edulis) is a relatively little-known psychoactive plant. In her book Drug Effects: Khat in Biocultural and Socioeconomic Perspective, Lisa Gezon shows that khat’s marginal position is a good entry point to address broader and often opposing stances in public health and anthropological literature about the harms and benefits of psychoactive drugs. By using […]

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Book Review: Healing Roots: Anthropology in Life and Medicine

In Healing Roots: Anthropology in Life and Medicine, Julie Laplante challenges the dominant approach to testing, trialing, and legitimizing medicine meant for use in humans—the randomized control trial (RCT)—and ways of “knowing” medicine overall. The object of her study, a preclinical trial of the widely used Artemisia afra plant of South Africa, set out to […]

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Book Review: Anthropology of Infectious Disease

Designing a course on global public health from a social scientific perspective is challenging to say the least. One needs not only to introduce students to the topics, concepts, and relevant literature, but also provide them with all the historical, political, and social context they will invariably need to fully understand the biggest problems facing […]

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