Health and Medicine

The social and cultural anthropology of health and medicine has been taught at Harvard since the early 1970s, and today represents an important component of the Department’s graduate and undergraduate teaching programs. This is a broad field that includes medical and psychiatric anthropology, global health, disability, social suffering, humanitarianism, death and dying, caregiving, public health, medical ethics, human rights and medical humanities. There are specific courses on the ethnography of chronic diseases, mental illnesses, local biologies and biomedicine and traditional healing systems. There are also theory and methods courses.

Other relevant courses deal with local biology, obesity and eating disorders, violence and trauma, and women’s reproductive health issues. Co-teaching is done with medical anthropologists from Harvard Medical School and with members of other FAS departments, such as History, History of Science, East Asian Languages and Civilizations, Program on the Study of Religion, and African and African American Studies. Senior honors thesis and PhD dissertations have been written on a wide range of subjects. There are also a one year MA program and an MD-PhD program. Faculty who teach in this subfield include Arthur Kleinman, Byron Good, Susan Greenhalgh, Laurence Ralph, Jean Comaroff and Paul Farmer. There are opportunities for summer field research placements and also for pre- and post-doctoral research. There are collaborative relations with scholars in the social study of biomedical science, mental health, infectious diseases, health systems, gender studies, and other related fields. Graduates have gone on into medicine, public health, academics, business, and public policy fields.

Arthur Kleinman

Arthur Kleinman

Esther and Sidney Rabb Professor of Anthropology
Professor of Medical Anthropology in Global Health and Social Medicine, Professor of Psychiatry, Harvard Medical School
Social Anthropology Program Director - Fall 2018


Research and Teaching Interests: Global Mental Health; Social Medicine; Medical Humanities; Social Suffering;...

Read more about Arthur Kleinman
Tozzer Anthropology Building 414
21 Divinity Ave.
Cambridge MA 02138
p: (617) 495-3846
Jean  Comaroff

Jean Comaroff

Alfred North Whitehead Professor of African and African American Studies and of Anthropology
Oppenheimer Research Fellow
On Leave Spring 2019


Research and Teaching Interests: Theory and method; embodiment and commodification; ritual and religion; medicine...

Read more about Jean Comaroff
Department of African and African American Studies
257 Barker Center
12 Quincy Street
Cambridge, MA 02138