Brandeis University Summer School interviewed Casey Golomski, a lecturer in the Anthropology Department at Brandeis. This summer, Casey will be teaching ANTH127a “Medicine, Body and Culture.” Registration is now open – click here to be directed to the enrollment page.
Brandeis University Summer School: How long have you been teaching at Brandeis?
Casey Golomski: My home is in the Department of Anthropology. I am also Lecturer in Anthropology at UMASS Boston, and I formerly taught at Northeastern University. I matriculated to the Brandeis Anthropology PhD program in 2006 and successfully defended my dissertation this past March, so I will graduate this spring. Last spring I independently convened the course ANTH80a, “Anthropology of Religion.” I otherwise teach regularly “Introduction to Cultural Anthropology,” “Peoples and Cultures of Africa,” and “Watching Film, Seeing Culture.”
BUSS: What courses will you teach this summer? What can students expect?
CG: This summer I will teach ANTH127a, “Medicine, Body and Culture.” This course is a broad yet nuanced introduction to medical anthropology, engaging the social, economic and political dimensions of illness and healing across cultures. I’m very excited for the opportunity to convene this course. I consider myself a cultural anthropologist, but I am very involved in issues of bodies, aging and medicine. In the past, I’ve done work with traditional and Christian spiritual healers in southern Africa, as well as youth and shamanistic healing in the Hmong Diaspora in the US. My current research focuses effects of death and demographic shift from HIV/AIDS on life cycle rites in the the Kingdom of Swaziland. In the course, I’ll share some of these findings and works-in-progress.
To explain the syllabus a bit, we begin with historical precursors to the field, so how earlier scholars were writing about medicine, culture, society and power and consider how they laid certain intellectual foundations we still work with today. I designed a number of interesting case studies modules on: race and medicine the US; health, environment, and ecology, including how we are affected by wind; chronic illness; and even sleep and sleeplessness! This course attracts many students who are Biology, International Global Studies, or Health Science Society and Policy majors or are pre-med, and we are going to interrogate “biomedicine (our own system and understandings of health) and programs and initiatives of “global public health,” as well as learning how undergraduate students in Africa learn to become doctors in some resource deprived settings there. At the end of the course, we consider how to apply our culturally-nuanced findings in practice and public policy. We draw case studies from Anglo-, Hispanic- and Native North, Central and South America, Western Europe, Eastern and Southern Africa, East and South Asia and the Pacific.
BUSS: What is unique about summer courses – either for the students or faculty?
CG: I like the opportunities that summer school schedules provide. While the course is condensed to make up for a full semester’s content, I make sure to stagger the work expectations so students are able to better relish the material. While the readings are pretty equitable across the course schedule, some days will be more concentrated my own material and lectures. Other days use a “conversation circle” format where we each share individually- or group-assigned readings with each other. We will read scholarly and some popular writing which can be a much quicker read, like the best-seller “The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks.” I think summer is a good time to catch up on “leisure” reading, and this combination lets students see how books in the library and popular books can converse in interesting ways. We will watch a number of films as well. Students will have three different options for a final project, including doing their own short ethnographic investigation which a summer course permits more time and freedom to take on.
Registration for ANTH127a and all summer course is now open. Click here for more information, or to sign up!