Spring 2009

Healing: Meaning, Performance, and Power

Listed in: Anthropology and Sociology, as ANTH-38


Christopher T. Dole (Section 01)


Moving through a variety of therapeutic settings and interventions (from the doctor’s office, to the laying on of hands, to national rituals of collective mourning), this seminar will consider what it means to heal and be healed. Building upon anthropological theories of healing and ritual, the course will explore a range of approaches to conceptualizing therapeutic efficacy-the persistent question of how and why different forms of healing work. These approaches emphasize symbol, performance, rhetoric, persuasion, embodiment, fantasy, imagination and authority as the sources of therapeutic power. The course will also take up idioms of healing as they are employed politically-taking healing both as a politicized process of personal persuasion and a collective process aimed at the level of the body politic. Limited to 20 students. Spring semester. Professor C. Dole.