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jeudi 30 octobre 2014


The importance of OTHER is more relevant and urgent than ever before. How else are we going to understand, disparate cultural entities, interacting at a global scale?
France/Belgium and Radical Muslim Militia in Iraq and Syria
EBOLA and Humanitarian aid of Cuba, just to give two examples.
What is Medical Anthropology?
Many definitions are offered, all involving Health, Illness, Disease, Healing, Curing, but I like the definition offered by Paul Farmer, MD PhD, one of the better-known Medical Anthropologists from the USA.
A view of Health and Disease, away from the vista of organized, biologically oriented, mechanistic model of medical care and wellness, taking into consideration the society and culture in which the person who is suffering lives.

(My father who was an inspiration to me, worked as a health care provider to the tribal people of Borneo)

Illness and Suffering has become globalized, so has the formulae offered for its relief, mainly pharmaceuticals. The healer and the sufferer, especially in the west, has much less in common than before, nor is it required that the Doctor or the provider be culturally sensitive or for that matter sensitive to the suffering at all. This sensitivity may not be important to a technologically oriented doctor or provider, but it is of great importance to the one who is suffering. 
Medical Anthropology helps us understand the Pathologies of Power in the clinical and social settings.
In this universe, Mitakuye Oyasin, All my relatives, as native American Indians say, the role of rituals in everyday life, with other individuals (comprising the social bodies) and other groups of people (comprising the political bodies) is to bring ourselves or create for ourselves a comfortable identity in relation to others.
A Miami Cuban saying, Soy Cubano, I am a Cuban and I, Visiting Professor of Anthropology at the University of Havana, saying, Soy Cubano, I am a Cuban, has distinct social, cultural, political constructions, and the very same sentence and sentiment sets us apart. Instead of bringing us together, it makes us the Other, strangers to each other.
But a common ritual, could act as a bridge, which has to be “pure”, in this case a sensitive love for all Cuba stands for. Here we can use the “classic” methods of anthropology-structuralism, symbolism, context, and rituals. All can be used as tools for analysis, to lay bare all the constructs of the subjects in question:
Miami Cuban or A Visiting Professor at the University of Havana
Has Anthropology moved away from the study of the “Exotic”?
(which tribe does he belong to?)

The exotic has become commonplace, the doctor who attends to you in Northern Miami, may have graduated from a Medical School in Uzbekistan, he may neither speak Spanish or English well. Cultural Frankensteins created by the rapidity of globalization has become exotic (nowhere can you experience this than in the streets of Havana). Unique aspects of the languages are lost. (English is the most widely, badly spoken language in the world!). We have become Unicorns, Mermaids, and Sails without anchors, and Boats without oars.
(a cultural frankenstein, guess the country!)

That is why we need Anthropology, which is why Anthropology has a bright future.
A deep study of Anthropology gives us a sense of continuity (with the past and with ourselves), identity and presence.