BASS Social Anthropology and Sociology

Year of entry: 2024

Course unit details:
Pharmaceutical Worlds: Markets, Medicines and Metaphors

Course unit fact file
Unit code SOAN30462
Credit rating 20
Unit level Level 3
Teaching period(s) Semester 2
Available as a free choice unit? Yes

Overview

Pharmaceutical Worlds is a Third-Year optional course unit designed primarily for students of anthropology and for intercalating medical students, though it is open to those from other disciplines. It may be taken in addition to or instead of Health and Wellbeing. The course is informed theoretically by ethnographies drawn primarily from the anthropology of medicine and from science and technology studies (STS). Topics include the relationship(s) between capitalism and medicine, pharmaceutical science and markets, industry and authorship, along with the cultural metaphors and imagery through which pharmaceutical knowledge is produced, branded, and circulated. Overall, it provides conceptual tools for decoding medical and pharmaceutical promises with anthropologically informed scepticism.Pharmaceutical Worlds is a Third-Year optional course unit designed primarily for students of anthropology and for intercalating medical students, though it is open to those from other disciplines. It may be taken in addition to or instead of Health and Wellbeing. The course is informed theoretically by ethnographies drawn primarily from the anthropology of medicine and from science and technology studies (STS). Topics include the relationship(s) between capitalism and medicine, pharmaceutical science and markets, industry and authorship, along with the cultural metaphors and imagery through which pharmaceutical knowledge is produced, branded, and circulated. Overall, it provides conceptual tools for decoding medical and pharmaceutical promises with anthropologically informed scepticism.

Aims

This course unit aims to provide a critical overview of contemporary theoretical issues in the anthropology of medicine and science and technology studies (STS). Drawing extensively upon recent ethnographies from different parts of the world in order to contextualise theoretical approaches, the course will examine some key debates and relate these debates to wider issues of theory and method in social anthropology.

Learning outcomes

 

  • Develop anthropological eyes to see how capitalism and global inequality articulate with pharmaceutical science and medicine.
  • Develop verbal skills in analysis and critique of the cultural metaphors at play in pharmaceutical research.
  • Develop academic writing skills of analysis and critique in relation to core concepts in the Medical Anthropology and Science and Technology Studies corpus.
  • Understand the cultural metaphors at play in medical and psychopharmaceutical science.
  • Understand how drugs get ‘personalities,’ and how drug epidemics become ‘ethnic.’

Teaching and learning methods

Lectures, documentaries, group seminars, and student presentations.

Assessment methods

  • Mid-term: 1000 words: worth 20%
  • Final assessment: Final essay, 3000 words: worth 80%

Feedback methods

Essays and group work will receive feedback. 

Recommended reading

Braun, Lundy. Breathing race into the machine: The surprising career of the spirometer from plantation to genetics. U of Minnesota Press, 2014.

Hansen, Helena, Jules Netherland, and David Herzberg. Whiteout: How Racial Capitalism Changed the Color of Opioids in America. Univ of California Press, 2023.

Healy, David (2003) ‘Let Them Eat Prozac: The Unhealthy Relationship Between the Pharmaceutical Industry and Depression’ (Toronto, Ont.: Lorimer & Co).

Lakoff, Andrew. 2006. Pharmaceutical Reason: Knowledge and Value in Global Psychiatry. Cambridge University Press.

Petryna, Adriana, Andrew Lakoff, and Arthur Kleinman, eds. Global pharmaceuticals: Ethics, markets, practices. Duke University Press, 2006.

 

 

Study hours

Scheduled activity hours
Lectures 20
Seminars 9
Independent study hours
Independent study 171

Teaching staff

Staff member Role
Caroline Parker Unit coordinator

Additional notes

 

 

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