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VIDEO DOI: https://doi.org/10.48448/xbm4-7610


AAA Annual Meeting 2021

November 18, 2021

Baltimore, United States

The Futures of Writing in Medical Anthropology: Voice and Practice


medical anthropology


The rigor, heterogeneity and creative vision of medical anthropologists are apparent in the ongoing proliferation of modes of writing currently emerging in the field. Some reflect the diversity of audiences for whom medical anthropologists write: students, patient populations, clinicians, public health practitioners, scientists, journalists, policymakers and more general publics as medical and scientific technologies are commercialized to become household items for the self-governance of well-being. In addition to reaching beyond disciplinary audiences, some efforts center on trying to get outside the confines of scholarly books and articles in a time when communicative technologies and practices are diversifying and multiplying rapidly. Participants have created websites, such as Somatosphere, that feature web-based essays that respond more rapidly to developments and challenges, such as the COVID-19 pandemic. Other participants have written trade books and newspaper op-ed pieces designed to reach large audiences. Like other anthropologists, medical anthropologists are experimenting with forms of writing, using the graphic novel, literary non-fiction formats, creative writing and poetry genres as well as other formats, such as photography, videography, and sound production to reach new audiences and push readers to think in different ways. Two participants, as editors of major medical anthropology journals, are stretching the limits of what comes between the covers of print and digital issues to bring in a variety of other forms of writing and types of materials. Rather than training their students narrowly in forms of academic writing•leaving the acquisition of new modes of engaging audiences to post-graduation individual endeavors•some roundtable members are offering seminars or workshops on pressing current events that teach these forms of more-than-academic writing. At the same time that it will enable panelists to report on how they have expanded the envelope of academic writing in medical anthropology and the successes and obstacles they have encountered along the way, this roundtable will point toward the future. What challenges lie ahead? What avenues for innovation and dissemination can be imagined? How will different styles and venues contribute to analytic and ethnographic innovation? Lastly, how do authors consciously attend to expression, voice and writing as a practice that connects them with the larger world? We anticipate that the roundtable will interest medical anthropologists from graduate and undergraduate students to the most experienced scholars and practitioners. Instead of traditional presentations, panelists will read or share an idea or prose from their work to launch a discussion on possibilities for the future. We will also open up space for graduate students and those in the beginning stages of their careers to raise questions regarding balancing the forms and venues of writing, thus offering a renewed space for medical anthropologists’ many modes of expression. The goal of this work is simple• to ensure that we use our voices to responsibly and creatively contribute to how stories get told about the world.


Transcript English (automatic)

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