Global Health

Why Cultural Perceptions, Social Representations, and Biopolitics Matter

Mark Nichter (Author)
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In this lesson-packed book, Mark Nichter, one of the world’s leading medical anthropologists, summarizes what more than a quarter-century of health social science research has contributed to international health and elucidates what social science research can contribute to global health and the study of biopolitics in the future. Nichter focuses on our cultural understanding of infectious and vector-borne diseases, how they are understood locally, and how various populations respond to public health interventions. The book examines the perceptions of three groups whose points of view on illness, health care, and the politics of responsibility often differ and frequently conflict: local populations living in developing countries, public health practitioners working in international health, and health planners/policy makers. The book is written for both health social scientists working in the fields of international health and development and public health practitioners interested in learning practical lessons they can put to good use when engaging communities in participatory problem solving. Global Health critically examines representations that frame international health discourse. It also addresses the politics of what is possible in a world compelled to work together to face emerging and re-emerging diseases, the control of health threats associated with political ecology and defective modernization, and the rise of new assemblages of people who share a sense of biosociality. The book proposes research priorities for a new program of health social science research. Nichter calls for greater involvement by social scientists in studies of global health and emphasizes how medical anthropologists in particular can better involve themselves as scholar activists.

The June 19, 2020 issue of the American Anthropological Association’s Anthropology News includes an essay by Regents’ Professor Emeritus Mark Nichter. “Engaging the Pandemic: How One Medical Anthropologist Is Boosting Our Capacity to Understand and Contend with COVID-19” (pp. 3–7) explores the practical collaborations a medical anthropologist can contribute during a pandemic. Nichter writes, “COVID-19 provides an opportunity to build alliances and momentum for significant health care reform.”

“Nichter has written an accessible text that is both critical and constructive, an inspiration as well as a lesson plan. It should be required reading for anyone considering the relevance of social science in global health.” —Current Anthropology
Global Health
320 Pages 7 x 10 x 0.8
Published: April 2008Paperback ISBN: 9780816525744
Published: June 2020Ebook ISBN: 9780816542284

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