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    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. We also draw on sensory, literary, and creative texts and methods to enhance our access to a phenomenological understanding of this topic.

    About this paper

    Paper title Bodies, Technologies and Medicines
    Subject Anthropology
    EFTS 0.1667
    Points 20 points
    Teaching period Not offered in 2024 (Distance learning)
    Domestic Tuition Fees ( NZD ) $1,240.75
    International Tuition Fees Tuition Fees for international students are elsewhere on this website.
    72 300-level ANTH or ARCH points
    Recommended Preparation
    ANTH 322 or ANTH 323
    May not be credited together with ANTH411 passed in 2002-2004.

    Teaching staff

    Dr Susan Wardell

    Paper Structure

    Seminars will be conducted once a fortnight; a number of small-scale research and/or reflexive writing tasks will be completed and lodged via Blackboard through the year, to assist in developing understanding, and also to be 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

    The Distance Learning offering of this paper is taught remotely.

    In-person seminars (with Zoom option) 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.


    Not offered in 2024

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