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US Military Burn Pits and the Politics of Health

by Kenneth MacLeish, Medicine, Health, and Society and Anthropology at Vanderbilt University and Zoë H. Wool, Department of Anthropology, Rice University   On June 7, the House Committee on Veterans Affairs (HCVA) held the first ever hearing on the health effects of the US military’s overseas burn pits. Most Americans have never heard of a burn […]

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The Stakes for Immigration and Mental Health

by Allison Bloom As we sat in the back office of a crisis center, Rosa recounted her darkest moment. An immigrant from Ecuador working a low-wage job, Rosa was facing seemingly insurmountable abuse from her husband. With few language skills, resources, or support, she had contemplated suicide as her only means of escape. Yet as […]

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Competing Agendas: Health Insurance Reform and Precision Medicine

By Emily Hammad Mrig When she was diagnosed with breast cancer, Christy was suddenly confronted with numerous decisions about what to do next. Among the many decisions she had to make, Christy had to choose between a breast conserving surgery or a more invasive bilateral mastectomy to remove the cancerous tissue. Fearing a future cancer […]

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Book Forum: Ed Yong’s I Contain Multitudes

Last summer, popular science writer Ed Yong published his book on the microbiome to great acclaim. The book, I Contain Multitudes: the Microbes Within Us and a Grander View of Life, became a bestseller and showed up on countless “Best of” book lists for 2016. Since many medical anthropologists work on topics that either touch upon […]

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Multitudes without Politics

by Matthew Wolf-Meyer Microbial science may be the new solutionism in science and medicine. It’s hard not to see the last several years of hullaballoo over the microbiome as not an extension of scientific panacea-seeking from the late 20th and early 21st centuries: first cracking and cataloging the genome would solve all our health problems, […]

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Why Liberals Love the Microbiome

by Jamie Lorimer Ed Yong has written a lovely book. He takes us into the new science of the microbiome, introducing the key ideas and the central players. His writing is clear, compelling and self-effacing. His enthusiasm for his subject and his characters is infectious. His book has been well received; achieving bestseller status, rave […]

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Can Microbes Give Gifts?

by Alex Nading I find it ironic that theory, which is the epitome of cooperation and togetherness, can deeply divide people who spend their entire time thinking about cooperation and togetherness. – Ed Yong, I Contain Multitudes Shortly after I finished reading I Contain Multitudes, I attended an interdisciplinary meeting of microbiome ecologists, evolutionary biologists, […]

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Writing the Microbiome

by Amber Benezra Imagine that you really like ice cream. You like it so much that you spend years learning about it—you become an expert on ice cream ingredients and how they chemically combine, you do fieldwork in ice creameries, living with, working with, and intensively studying ice cream makers, you taste and love every […]

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Radiating Microbes and Fuzzy Anthropologies

by Erin Koch As humans in our household, my wife and I are collectively outnumbered as a species by dogs, cats, and an aquatic turtle. I write from my home office in the company of one of our pups. She is tired from morning walks, eating neighborhood flora and soils, and monitoring our backyard for […]

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The “Anecdote” Insult, or, Why Health Policy Needs Stories

by Jessica Mulligan and Emily K. Brunson Sharon asked to be interviewed at a gas station restaurant. It was close to her home so the trip burned minimal gas. And, it had air conditioning. In the middle of a Texas summer she had forgone paying her electric bills in order to purchase refills of the medications she […]

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