Zur Relevanz der Medical Anthropology: Beiträge und Herausforderungen für die Sozial- und Kulturanthropologie

Curare 27.2004:9-26

##Towards the relevance of medical anthropology: contributions and challenges to social and cultural anthropology
The paper discusses the contributions of medical anthropology (MA) to general social and cultural anthropology. It is shown that these stem from MA's object of research, its conceptual and methodological approaches and its stance among the health sciences and in respective policy fields. The paper starts with the discussion of MA's position within international social and cultural anthropology and of its inter- and transdisciplinary orientation. In the following sections two areas of research are expounded which account for MA's relevance to anthropology; these concern suffering and the body. It is argued that the significance of suffering lies not only in its centrality for human existence. The study of suffering may also provide more general insights into specific social and cultural conditions and may be used as a corrective in the development of anthropological concepts and theories. Finally the topic of suffering is relevant for general anthropology, because the moral, physical and social breaches associated with suffering are constitutive for sociocultural orders. Due to its occupation with the body MA can offer a view, which is not content with the reduction of the body to its object-like physis and with its assignment to the bio-sciences, but rather understands the body as a simultaneously social and biological process and as an agent in the formation of self and culture. This conceptual and methodological approach allows cultural anthropology's foremost research object - to be studied as based in lived experience and as in the process of making.##

Keywords: medical anthropology, suffering, body, embodiment, transdisciplinarity