What is the role of medical anthropology in a globalized world that is becoming increasingly complex and interconnected? Where does the defining domain of our subdiscipline begin and end with regard to our ‘classical’ objects of study such as ‘medicine’, ‘health system(s)’, and ‘the body’, and how is it possible to decide what constitutes the anthropologically relevant ‘context’ of these (empirically defined) research fields? How can we open the horizons of the subdisciplines of social and cultural anthropology to medical anthropology, and to what extent do the demarcations between medical anthropology and other areas of the discipline that deal with politics, economics, law, science, religion, and urban environments even make sense? Where do the inter- and transdisciplinary junctions emerge that can provide for general reflections about the themes, challenges, and positions of medical anthropology in an interconnected world?
These were the questions occupying our minds as we prepared for the conference ‘Medicine in Context: Illness and Health in an Interconnected World’, organized in 2007 by the Work Group Medical Anthropology within the German Anthropological Association on the occasion of its tenth anniversary. The following text forms the introduction to the anthology of the same name (Dilger and Hadolt 2010), which was published under our oversight as the then chairs of the work group. It recapitulates some of the abovementioned questions based on the contributions to the conference and the ensuing discussions that took place.
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Dilger, Hansjörg & Bernhard Hadolt, Eds. (2010): Medizin im Kontext. Krankheit und Gesundheit in einer vernetzten Welt. Frankfurt a.M.: Peter Lang.