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ANTH423 Bodies, Technologies and Medicines

Anthropological analysis of what it means to be human in living and working with innovative medical technologies such as genetic testing, xenotransplantation, intensive care units, organ transfers and gender reassignment surgeries.

This is an advanced course in medical anthropology that explores what it might mean to be an embodied human in relation to a range of contemporary medical technologies. Our examples include both low-touch/high-tech and high-touch/low-tech technical assemblages. Our vantage point considers a variety of subject positions (including patients, scientists, doctors, paramedical workers, clients, customers, users of services, nonhuman animals assisting in the development of these technologies, chimeras and cyborgs). We draw widely from the international literature on anthropologies of biomedicine and theories of embodiment to define (as anthropologists) our own local and theoretically informed account of the politics, everyday ethics and embodied experience of selected biomedical practices.

Paper title Bodies, Technologies and Medicines
Paper code ANTH423
Subject Anthropology
EFTS 0.1667
Points 20 points
Teaching period Not offered in 2020, expected to be offered in 2021
Domestic Tuition Fees (NZD) $1,142.40
International Tuition Fees (NZD) $4,661.93

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72 300-level ANTH or ARCH points
Recommended Preparation
ANTH 322 or ANTH 323
May not be credited together with ANTH 411 passed in 2002-2004.

Teaching staff

Professor Ruth Fitzgerald

Paper Structure

Virtual seminars will be conducted once a fortnight via Zoom; a number of small-scale research and/or writing tasks will be completed and lodged via Blackboard and also used as a basis for class discussion.

The paper is assessed 100% internally. There are two major assessment pieces:

  1. A book review essay
  2. A reflexive essay critically examining the contribution of the selected book for review to wider discussions on embodiment theories
Teaching Arrangements
Through Zoom and Blackboard

Required reading is from journal articles and book chapters available electronically through E-reserve (accessed via Blackboard). Books may be borrowed remotely from the University Library.

Course outline

Will be available on Blackboard at the beginning of the course.

Graduate Attributes Emphasised
Global perspective, Interdisciplinary perspective, Scholarship, Critical thinking, Cultural understanding, Ethics, Self-motivation.
View more information about Otago's graduate attributes
Learning Outcomes
Student anthropologists will demonstrate deep understanding of the work of one scholar in the subfields of the medical anthropology of embodiment and/or anthropological studies of science and technology. Students will achieve high-level skills in book reviewing, critical reading, succinct summarising and analysis of writing as an annotated bibliography entry, and the preparation, research and execution of a reflexive research essay. Students will be able to confidently assess the contribution of medical anthropological theorising of the mindful body within the broader contexts of social science theorising of embodiment. Students will also increase their vocabularies for and understanding of the concept of moral reasoning, as it is discussed in contemporary writing in medical anthropology.

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Not offered in 2020, expected to be offered in 2021

Teaching method
This paper is taught through Distance Learning
Learning management system