CAGH: Critical Anthropology for Global Health

Mission Statement

On November 16, 2006 members of two SMA special interest groups the Global Health and Emerging Diseases Study Group and the Critical Anthropology of Health Caucus voted to merge. Significant overlap in membership in both groups and the potential benefit of pooling resources, fostering broader dialogue, and building critical mass were the primary reasons for this decision. After much lively discussion, a decision was made to call the group Critical Anthropology for Global Health (CAGH).

The change was timely given last years meeting theme of critical intersections. Two major points of discussion arose during the meeting: 1) Is it time to move from the study of health to working for global health; and 2) Will a new name exclude global health specialists who do not adopt a critical perspective? The consensus was that an engaged anthropology agenda best reflected most group members interests and that the term critical be used in a broad manner embracing several different critical perspectives, including:

  • political economy and political ecology; critical biocultural anthropology and the lifespan biology of poverty; ecosocial epidemiology and the study of syndemics; governmentality; health disparities and medical citizenship; human rights and the health outcomes of structural violence; gender, power relations, and health disparity ; critical discourse analysis of health and development rhetoric; studies of marketing as this affects consumer behavior resulting in defective modernization; the production and distribution of dangerous commodities and materialist deconstruction of commodity chains linking the conditions of production to consumption; critical assessments of health policy; the impact of sociocentric global warming on global health; and the implementation, accessibility and effectiveness of disease control and treatment programs.

The term global health was understood to encompass both a holistic understanding of health and our recognition of the linkages and transnational flows of people, ideas, commodities and ideologies that characterize health in today’s interconnected world. Topics of relevance include global health disparities, minority health, global indigenous health, migration and health, flows of health care professionals from developing to developed countries, international health tourism, conditions favoring the rise and global transmission of emerging/remerging diseases, drug resistance, the structurally influenced adoption of lifestyles conducive to chronic disease, pandemic disease and global health policy, global health movements, networks, and public health interventions that transverse borders and are not regulated by state or international bodies, and the impact of transnational corporate interests actions, and commodity chains on global health status.

Mark Nichter
Lenore Manderson



2011 AAA CAGH Meeting Agenda

Society for Medical Anthropology Critical Medical Anthropology of Global Health (CAGH) Special Interest Group Thursday, November 17, 2011: 12:15-13:30

Meeting Agenda

1) Introductory remarks by Mark Nichter: reflect on SIG activity/successes : 3-5 minutes:

  • Overview of meeting: Awards; Takes a stand initiatives (Clinical Trials, Migration and Health/ Health Service Delivery, Insurance : US and Global) ; Elect new coordinator; New takes a stand topics

2) Quick round of member introductions — names and affiliations only: 5-10 minutes

3) Report on the Virchow Award winners and numbers of submissions by Heide Casteneda and vote of thanks to Heide and judges – 5 minutes

4) Report on present Takes a Stand Initiatives:10 – 15minutes:

  • Clinical trials: Mark Nichter
  • Migration; Heide Casternda
  • Insurance : Sara Horton, this years focus
  • Panel: Redefining Insurance, Redefining Governance: US Health Reform in Global Perspective Friday November 18, 8:00 – 11:45 AM in Montreal Convention Center 519B
  • Additional Discussion Session: Second, if you are interested in participating in the “Takes a Stand” process, please join us at the conference registration desk on Friday, November 18, at 5 p.m. We will walk to a quiet location to meet from there. We’ll be using this meeting to discuss the projects we’ve begun—such as the bibliography and the mini-statements—as well as the broader CAGH statement on global health insurance reform. We’ll circulate some preliminary ideas about the CAGH “Takes a Stand” statement; your feedback and input is greatly appreciated.

5) Selecting a new coordinator for the CMAGH Group: 5- 10 minutes

  • See candidate CV on Website: Rachel Chapman; other candidates for consideration should be presented to group by nominators

6) Discussion of promising topics for next Takes a Stand working group initiative. : 20 minutes

  • Members are asked to introduce topics –they would be willing to work on — noting why this is a timely topic.
  • Up to five minutes allocated per topic with other members expressing interest and signing up to actively participate.
  • We will make a group decision about which topic to take up next -or come up with a process for determining this.

2011 Rudof Virchow Awards

Rudolf Virchow, a 19th century German physician, was a key founder of social medicine. His contributions centered on his recognition that multiple intersecting factors – social, political, and economic – produce disease and illness. He argued that the circumstances and deprivations of poverty increase people’s susceptibility to disease and result in reduced life expectancy and quality of life. He eloquently articulated the limits of medicine in the absence of material security, a sentiment which informed his view that nation-states play an important role in ensuring health security for a citizenry. Virchow viewed advocacy as an essential part of health praxis, and, in keeping with this legacy, the Critical Anthropology for Global Health Caucus honors Virchow’s work with three awards.

The annual Rudolf Virchow Awards are given by the Critical Anthropology for Global Health Caucus, a special interest group of the Society for Medical Anthropology. The Professional Award honors a recent published article, and the Graduate and Undergraduate Student Awards honor recent student papers that have not yet benefited from editorial review. Winning submissions combine a critical anthropology focus with rich ethnographic data, and best reflect, extend, and/or advance critical perspectives in medical anthropology.


  • The submission deadline for the 2011 Award is July 30, 2011. Awards are made in the following categories: 1) Professional, 2) Graduate Student and 3) Undergraduate Student (see below). We encourage you to submit your own work and/or to nominate papers of your students or articles of colleagues.
  • If you wish to submit a paper for consideration, please e-mail the paper and a cover letter of introduction to the 2011 Virchow Awards Chair, Heide Castañeda, Department of Anthropology, University of South Florida, at by July 30, 2011. Hard copies are no longer accepted. Confirmation of receipt will be sent. To ensure a prompt and fair review, papers will not be accepted after the July 30, 2011 11:59 pm PST deadline.

Professional Award Category

  • The professional award will be awarded for an article or chapter published during 2010 in a peer-reviewed journal (print or online) or peer-reviewed edited volume. Articles may be singly- or co-authored. Technical reports and other contracted works are not considered for this award. Professional articles must be submitted electronically in Adobe PDF format as they appeared in print.

Graduate Award Category

  • The graduate student award will be awarded for a paper that was written in 2010 or 2011 and that has not yet been subjected to editorial review. Papers that have been submitted to a journal or edited volume, but that have not yet benefited from review may be included in this category. Theses and dissertations will not be accepted. However, a summary no longer than 30 pages (inclusive of references) of a thesis or a dissertation that can stand on it own, or a chapter that has been revised to stand on its own will be considered for this award. Papers from students who have graduated are still accepted in this category as long as the paper was written in 2010 or 2011. Graduate student papers must be submitted in Adobe PDF or Word format with a title-only first page. File sizes must be less than 2MB. The document must exclude the author’s name, author’s advisor, and university affiliation throughout. The cover letter should include this information. Only papers, not interactive media, will be considered for this award.

Undergraduate Award Category

  • The undergraduate student award will be awarded for a paper written in 2010 or 2011 while the student was still an undergraduate. Honors theses are not accepted. However, a shortened version no longer than 30 pages (inclusive of references) of the thesis or a chapter from the thesis that has been revised to stand on its own will be considered for this award. Undergraduate student papers must be submitted in Adobe PDF or Word format with a title-only first page. File sizes must be less than 2MB. The document must exclude the author’s name, author’s advisor, and university affiliation throughout. The cover letter should include this information. Only papers, not interactive media, will be considered for this award.

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