Second Year Courses


This second year course in Anthropology is concerned with the range of issues that surround the meanings people attach to health, illness and the therapeutic process, as well as the ways in which social and cultural dynamics shape expressions of sickness. As a course in medical anthropology, its subject matter straddles the margins of the clinical and social sciences and is based on fieldwork research in a wide range of contexts - from urban Japan to rural Uruguay. This course examines some crucial public health issues such as the HIV/AIDS pandemic, the rise of chronic degenerative disease, the cross - cultural study of mental illness, and the impact of globalization on traditional and modern medical systems.

The aim of this course is to give students an appreciation for the role played by cultural schema and social environments in shaping peoples experiences of illness, including their beliefs and behaviors in relation to particular disease.


This course is designed to give students an appreciation of the dynamic forms and functions of human families and household. The course will introduce students to some perennial topics in the anthropological study of domestic life, including theories on the evolutionary origins of the human family, incest, the development of descent systems including matriliny and patriliny, the process and meaning of marriage, definitions and categorizations of kinship, and the social role of bridewealth. The impact of socio-cultural change, particularly as it affects the modern structure and function of kin-relations is closely examined.

In addition, students will develop an appreciation for the fluid nature of families and households as they adapt and respond to changes in the wider environment such as the HIV/AIDS epidemic and changing gender power relations in society. An effort is made to relate course materials to the Southern African context, where issues such as the relationship between kinship and politics and the rise of child-headed households are important.

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