ANTH 301 Culture and Medicine: Healers and Healing Practices
Every culture and society has had to deal with illness and thus has well-developed concepts about the healing process, healers, medical knowledge and healing practices. This course offers a cross-cultural exploration of healers and healing approaches. In Healers and Healing Practices we examine differences and similarities in the ways that people approach illness and healing by relying heavily on an abundance of examples from various cultures, including that of the U.S. We examine illness causation and classification theories, diagnostic practices, therapeutic procedures, preventive care, the assumptions that underlie these concepts and practices, and their relationship to the social, cultural, and technological environments in which they are constructed. The course focuses on the role of the healer in the context of culture and will examine physicians, shamans, “witch” doctors, curandero/as, midwives, wise men and women and other medical practitioners. The course also explores the use of music, botanicals, healing aids, and pharmaceuticals in the healing process. Informed self-reflection and critical analysis of one's own worldview assumptions and medical belief system are fundamental to the course.