Pharmaceutical Personhood


Pharmaceuticals now profoundly shape how we see ourselves and others, experience health and illness, and seek medical care. This course examines the social ecologies of medicine, and how global pharmaceutical proliferation unfolds in various local contexts, oftentimes refracting social inequalities. Drawing on medico-scientific scholarship, media and policy debates, and ethnography, we will explore how cultural and political contexts shape the production, use, and efficacy of drugs. This will include a discussion of pharmaceuticals and identity, the science and ethics of drug development and testing, the politics of regulation, and the pharmaceuticalization of public health and animal agriculture. The course explores these themes through in-depth case studies, including common psychopharmaceuticals, the evolution of HIV/AIDS medications, lifestyle drugs, performance enhancers, and overprescription and addiction, among others. Upon completion of the course, students will have a comprehensive understanding of the anthropology of pharmaceutical use in the contemporary world, as well as current political and ethical debates surrounding the development and accessibility of medicines.
Course Attributes: EN S; BU Eth; AS SSC; FA SSC; AR SSC

This course satisfies


Anthropology Global Health and Environment

Course Requirements

Anthropology Major Elective Global Health Elective