In some parts of the world spending on healthcare is astronomical. In others, people struggle to survive amid new and reemerging epidemics and have little or no access to basic or life-saving therapies. Treatments for infectious diseases that disproportionately affect the world’s poor remain under-researched and global health disparities are increasing. This interdisciplinary seminar integrates perspectives from the social and biomedical sciences to explore 1) the development and global flows of medical technologies; 2) how individual and group health is affected by medical technologies, public policy, and the forces of globalization as each of these affects local worlds.
The seminar is structured around specific case materials from around the world (Haiti, South Africa, Brazil, Russia, China, India, for example), each demonstrating how social and technological forces-increasingly global in nature-can influence biomedical processes and disease outcomes and their distribution. As we analyze each case and gain familiarity with ethnographic methods, we will ask how more effective interventions can be formulated. The course draws from ethnographic and historical writings, medical journals, ethical analyses, and films, and familiarizes students with critical debates on globalization and it local responses.