AAA CFP: At the Intersections of Anthropology and Medical Sciences

*Call for Papers: Annual Meeting for the American Anthropological Association*

November 1620, 2016
Minneapolis, MN

Panel Title: At the Intersections of Anthropology and Medical Sciences: Possibilities and Risks of Interdisciplinary Collaborations

Organizers: Nelson Arruda (Sherbrooke University) and Jorge Flores-Aranda (Sherbrooke University)

Panel description: Anthropological methods and concepts have become highly used in the fields of medicine and health science as compelling tools to understand the social production of health and illness, to examine how power relations affect and are affected by the practices of individuals and to expose structural inequalities. Interdisciplinary teams constituted by anthropologists and scholars from a myriad of health related disciplines have brought ethnography into the study of social policies, public health interventions, global health exchanges, vulnerable populations targeted by diseases, and care practices of experts and lay persons. Thus, anthropology and medical sciences have intersected in multiple ways, fraught by the particular epistemological commitments and academic demands of each disciplinary field as well as the consequent tensions. Moreover, the increasing use of ethnography outside its disciplinary home could entail risks such as the lost of its meaning (e.g. “ethnographic” becomes interchangeable with “qualitative”), the consequent undermining of participant observation (its main way of working), the subordination of anthropological methods to quantitative ones as well as the curtailing of anthropology’s public voice and its impact in the world (Ingold 2014). This panel will explore how anthropologists navigate the possibilities and the risks that emerge from the intersections of anthropology and medical science: In which ways do we become methodological and theoretical bricoleurs assembling ideas and methods from different disciplinary fields for our own research agendas? How do we negotiate the adherence (or
not) of our research proposals to protocols of “positivist’ methodology that for example demand “representative” numbers of “informants” and precise “sampling” techniques? And in our own interdisciplinary teams are we able to ensure the prevalence of the ethnographic approach in the conception and implementation of our studies and interventions? The panel aims to put into dialogue scholars that have conducted interdisciplinary research (anthropology and health related disciplines) from diverse approaches and in different geographic areas. Our overall goal is to reflect on the challenges posed by our work and the potential impact of our collaborations with medical fields of knowledge in the lives of the persons we study.

Please send submissions to Nelson Arruda (, Jorge Flores-Aranda ( and Rossio Motta ( by 30 March 2016 at the latest.  Submissions should be no more than 250 words and should include a title and five keywords. Accepted panelists will be informed of their inclusion in the panel by April 3, 2016 and should register for the AAA 2016 conference by or before April 15th.