Encyclopedia of Medical Anthropology

2004 Edition
| Editors: Carol R. Ember, Melvin Ember

Theoretical and Applied Issues in Cross-Cultural Health Research

Key Concepts and Controversies
  • Elisa J. Sobo
Reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/0-387-29905-X_1


From its earliest days, anthropology has included research regarding health. However, it is only within the past quarter-century that inquiry in this area has been systematized and synthesized into the area of specialization known (but not unequivocally so) as “medical anthropology”. After discussing the concept “health,” we review the history of medical anthropology’s emergence. The historical divide between “applied” and “theoretical” medical anthropology is discussed. Our focus then turns specifically to cross-cultural or ethnological health research. Key conceptual models for understanding health-seeking and health systems cross-culturally will be described. We then contrast the explicitly comparative cross-cultural perspective with contemporary ethnography, where single cultures are generally the focus of inquiry, and we discuss the related debate over comparative research. Finally, popular research topic areas are reviewed.

What Exactly is Health?



Conventional Medicine Evil Spirit Medical Anthropology Cultural Domain International Public Health 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.
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Great thanks are due to Carole Browner and Elisa Gordon for providing invaluable comments and suggestions.


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© Kluwer Academic/Plenum Publishers 2004

Authors and Affiliations

  • Elisa J. Sobo

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