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:
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.
Society for Medical Anthropology Critical Medical Anthropology of Global Health (CAGH) Special Interest Group Thursday, November 17, 2011: 12:15-13:30
1) Introductory remarks by Mark Nichter: reflect on SIG activity/successes : 3-5 minutes:
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:
5) Selecting a new coordinator for the CMAGH Group: 5- 10 minutes
6) Discussion of promising topics for next Takes a Stand working group initiative. : 20 minutes
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.