Convener: Dr M Mbali

Course entry requirements: Acceptance for a master's programme

Co-requisites: None

This course aims to deepen students’ understanding of the changing social and cultural forms related to biomedicine, health and healing both in Africa and globally. The socially constructed nature of biomedicine and healing will be explored with reference to institutions, practices, policies, diverse ways of knowing and subjectivities around the body and health. The course will also analyze the intersections between the social and material aspects of health (such as political economies and bodily systems and processes). Epistemologies of biomedicine and health will be explored with reference to: diverse views of disease ontology; biomedical professionalisation and therapeutic diversity; and, histories of mental health. The politics of health will be examined in relation to epidemics, public health and health policy and activism. Patient-focused histories of medicine and healing ‘from below’ will also be central to the course, particularly those of: women; gender non-conforming and same-sex practicing individuals and groups; and disabled and racially marginalized people. Finally, students will be asked to engage with ethical issues in writing histories of medicine such as ensuring patient confidentiality and obtaining informed consent, addressing stigma and discrimination in relation to certain diseases and understanding healing traditions as described by historical figures on their own terms.