Medical anthropology is “the study of how health andillness are shaped, experienced and understood in light of global, historical,and political forces.”
In other words, how does culture influence illness and the treatment of?
So for example at Stanford University, where the above definition comes from, areas of research and study include things like cultures of medicine, the economics of bodily injury and psychic expressions of disease.
If your experience of veterinary care is limited to a fairly narrow context (e.g. urban Australia), it can be difficult to appreciate that veterinary practice is subject to similar economic, political and cultural forces.
The Centre for Medical Anthropology at the University of Edinburgh is holding a two-day workshop on veterinary anthropology this week (18 and 19 of April) to explore these issues.
Scholars will be asking questions like “How far does the One Health paradigm go, when veterinary medicine involves interventions which are almost unthinkable in the treatment of human beings? Euthanasia, neutering and slaughter-outs in the name of infectious disease control are just three examples.” And “How are veterinary practitioners divided on acceptable practice, and how are these differentiated in settings such as farms, domestic pets, and zoos, or across different species? What might ‘informed consent’ mean when we are dealing with animals? What kind of attitudes towards their patients and animal owners must vets cultivate during their training, and how might this be different or similar to practitioners in the field of human medicine?”
These are big questions, but worthy of asking. If you can’t get on a plane and get yourself to Edinburgh this week (I won't be able to make it), you can read the abstracts here.
|I will be staying home and hopefully enjoying a cup or two of cat nip tea, courtesy of Nerida from the Cat Protection Society.|
The workshop has been organised by Rebecca Marsland (Social Anthropology, University of Edinburgh), Andrew Gardiner (Royal Dick Vet School, University of Edinburgh) and Adam Reed (Social Anthropology, University of St Andrews).
It is hoped that the workshop will result in a special issue of Social Science and Medicine.
For more information click here.