Universitat Rovira i Virgili

Showcase 3: Professional Anthropology and Medicine (1920-1983)

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When professional academic anthropology became established in the early 20th century, issues pertaining to health, illness and care were never high on its agenda. While Rivers' (1) book Medicine, Magic and Religion helped to introduce psychoanalysis into the United Kingdom, Malinowski used ethnography to challenge Freud (2, 3), and the culture and personality school opened avenues of inquiry that were later not pursued (3, 4). Harry Stack Sullivan and Karen Horney practiced a clinical psychoanalysis attentive to the influence of society and culture on individual psychology, and Kardiner (8) and Roheim (9) used ethnographic data to broaden the psychoanalytic perspective. Although Rivers' premature death in 1922 ended the possibility of more active dialogue between social and cultural anthropology and medicine, Robert Redfield's research (6) focused on the significance of folk medicine from a perspective other than that of European positivist medical folklore, and Evans-Pritchard (7) reconceptualized the relations between magic, religion and sickness in the light of the new theoretical developments in professional anthropology, a route that was also followed by others: Bouteiller (10) and Lévi-Strauss in France (18), Ernesto de Martino (14) in Italy and Ackercknecht (12) in Europe and the United States, among others. Particular mention should be made of the importance of de Martino's Morte e pianto rituale (15) because of the way it links Marxism, psychoanalysis, phenomenology and structuralism, and for its definition of the concept of "presence".

Following the study by Faris and Dunham (7) on psychoses in Chicago, sociologists and anthropologists used ethnography to evaluate psychiatric institutions and hospitals (7, 11, 13) and anthropologists began to participate actively in international health programs, a number of which were reviewed partly compiled by Benjamin Paul (2.16), or in applications of the new transcultural psychiatry initially developed in Canada (16). Journals such as Psychiatry, Human Organization, Journal of Health and Social Behavior and Transcultural Psychiatric Research Review, among others, published so much material at this time that in 1952 William Caudill proposed the term "clinical anthropology" to identify a literature that had already reached significant proportions.

    Ackerknecht, E.H., [1952]1985. Medicina y Antropologia Social [Medicine & Ethnology]. Madrid, Akal. In Madrid: Akal. 
    Benedict, R., 1934. Patterns of culture. Boston: Houghton Mifflin.

Bouteiller, M., 1950. Chamanisme et guérison magique, Paris: Presses Universitaires de France.


Caudill W., [1952] 1966. El hospital psiquiátrico como comunidad terapéutica. Buenos Aires: Escuela.

    Evans-Pritchard, E., [1937] 1976. Brujería, magia y oráculos entre los azande. Barcelona: Anagrama. 
    Faris, R.L. & Warren Dunham, H., [1939]1965. Mental disorders in urban areas. An ecological study of schizophrenia and other psychosis, Chicago: The University of Chicago Press. 

Kardiner, A.,[1939] 1945. El individuo y su sociedad. La psicodinámica de la organización social primitiva, México: Fondo de Cultura Económica.

    Levi-Strauss, C., [1958] 1980. Antropologia estructural. Buenos Aires: Eudeba. 

Malinowski, B., [1927] 1969. Sexe i repressió en les societats primitives. Barcelona: Edicions 62. 


Malinowski, B., [1929] 1975. La vida sexual de los salvajes del Noroeste de la Melanesia. Madrid: Morata.


Martino, E. de, [1948] 1985. El mundo mágico, México: Universidad Autónoma Metropolitana.

    Martino, Ernesto de (1958,1983) Morte e pianto rituale. Dal lamento funebre antico al pianto di    Maria. Turín, Boringhieri.
    Mead, M., [1928] 1972.  Adolescencia, sexo y cultura en Samoa. Barcelona: Laia. 
    Murphy, H.B., 1955. Flight and resettlement, Paris: UNESCO. 
    Redfield, R., [1934] 1962.  Cham Koam: a Maya Village. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press.
    Roheim, Geza [1950] 1967. Psychanalyse et Anthropologie. París, Gallimard.
    Paul, B.D., 1955. Health, culture and Community. Case studies of Public reactions to health programs, New York: Russell Sage Foundation.
    Stanton, A. H. & Schwartz, M. S., 1954. The Mental Hospital: a study of institutional participation in psychiatric illness and treatment. New York: Basic Books.

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