Research Interests

Applied or theoretical, comparativist or not, today's medical anthropologists remain very interested in issues relating to health education and promotion. Medical and popular social representations of the body and of disease—for example, the differing ways in which medical and scientific rhetoric has, across time, anchored popular theories of gender in the body (e.g., Lacquer, 1990; Martin, 1987)—have also received a good deal of attention. The ways in which people come to experience their bodies, according to how they are brought up to believe that their bodies work and should feel or function, has been another very productive topic for exploration, and has generated theories of embodiment and lived experience which sometimes even posit the body and its physiological and anatomical reality as a crucial foundation for the creation of culture itself (e.g., Csordas, 1990; Lakoff, 1987; Sobo, 1996).

Issues related to the therapeutic alliance between patient and practitioner have been perennially popular topics of inquiry for ethnographers, who have long been interested in the psychological aspects of health and in the social and cultural context of medical knowledge and practice. More and more recent works have examined how professionally dominated knowledge and practice patterns are socially established, maintained, expressed, or negotiated—or subverted—during patient-practitioner interaction (e.g., Lindenbaum & Lock, 1993). Other aspects of the therapeutic alliance that have garnered attention include the role of narrative employment and interlocutionary storytelling in healing (e.g., Delvecchio Good & Good, 2000; Mattingly & Garro, 1994), the impact of illness on identity (e.g., Green & Sobo, 2000), and the moral and ethical dimensions of the alliance, especially in relation to new biomedical technology (e.g., Brodwin, 2000; Lock, Young, & Cambrosio, 2000).

Medicalization also has continued appeal as a framework for anthropological health studies.

The pluralistic approach that many patients take to their own health and the impact of the latter on biomedi-cine, which generally assumes that it is the only medical system being consulted, is also an increasingly important area of inquiry. [For example, self-care in relation to bio-medicine, either as a supplement or adjunct to biomedical care or as an alternative when biomedicine fails to meet people's needs or in the case of uninsurance, has received increasing scrutiny (e.g., Vuckovic, 2000).] The impact and approaches of pharmaceutical advertising on self-care patterns are bound to garner increased attention as such advertising becomes routine practice in the United States. The organizational aspects of the failure of systems to meet people's needs, also already an area of concern within international health circles (Justice, 1989), promises to become a more popular area for inquiry as medical anthropology's alliance with health services research at home begins to burgeon.

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