1. University of Virginia
  2. Arts & Sciences

Medical Anthropology

The University of Virginia is currently home to a large number of faculty and students within the College of Arts and Sciences, the Schools of Medicine and Nursing, the Batten School of Leadership and Public Policy, and the Architecture School who are using complex understandings of society and culture to answer questions related to the body, health, and disease.  Anthropologists at UVa are engaged in a diverse array of research projects that demonstrate the imbrication of metaphor and materiality across the life span, both within and beyond the clinic.   The strong sub-disciplinary integration of the department creates opportunities for novel collaborations in which theoretical and methodological tools from other sub-disciplines can be brought into relation with long standing problems in medical anthropology.  

In our research and teaching we seek to address questions about the cultural shaping of ideas about health, illness, and healing:  How do culture and history shape experiences of mental and physical health and substance use? How do medical and religious practices intersect to shape experiences of illness and healing? 

In relation to this many of us are also interested in understanding how cultural understandings of the body, reproduction, health, and disease are used analogically in other social domains such as the economy, finance, or the nation. For example, how are metaphors of blood and circulation deployed in relation to finance? How do new reproductive technologies change our understandings of nature, culture, and kinship?

At the root of many of our interests are efforts understand how culture and society are involved in producing health disparities on local and global scales.  What are the cultural politics and histories that influence public health programs?  What are the interrelationships between food, diet, the environment, and health? 

Finally, these issues of equity are often linked to ethical questions exploring the historical and cultural contingency of the ethics that orient contemporary responses to illness and suffering.  How have these different ethics of care emerged over time?  What are their effects? What forms of ethical formation are involved in creating the subjects who participate in their reproduction?