Summer 2019 - SA 218 D100

Illness, Culture and Society (A) (4)

Class Number: 4916

Delivery Method: In Person


  • Course Times + Location:

    May 6 – Aug 2, 2019: Mon, 1:30–5:20 p.m.

  • Instructor:

    Michelle Walks
    Office Hours: MO 12:15-13:15
  • Prerequisites:

    SA 101 or 150 or 201W.



Health and well-being are social experiences. How do assumptions about the body, the self, and social relations operate in medical spheres? Introduces anthropological perspectives on illness and healing as a means of exploring the social existence of the body. Students with credit for SA 460 when offered as Medical Anthropology may not take this course for further credit.


The study of socio-cultural factors related to health and illness. Focus will be on patterns of health seeking activity, systems of health care, causal and symbolic factors involved in physical and mental illness, and the medicalization of life in contemporary society. The disciplinary focus of the course will vary from term to term.


  • Participation 15%
  • Mini assignments 10%
  • Midterm exam 25%
  • Group presentation 15%
  • Final exam (take-home) 35%


Grading: Where a final exam is scheduled and you do not write the exam or withdraw from the course before the deadline date, you will be assigned an N grade. Unless otherwise specified on the course outline, all other graded assignments in this course must be completed for a final grade other than N to be assigned.

Academic Dishonesty and Misconduct Policy: The Department of Sociology and Anthropology follows SFU policy in relation to grading practices, grade appeals (Policy T 20.01) and academic dishonesty and misconduct procedures (S10.01‐S10.04). Unless otherwise informed by your instructor in writing, in graded written assignments you must cite the sources you rely on and include a bibliography/list of references, following an instructor-approved citation style.  It is the responsibility of students to inform themselves of the content of SFU policies available on the SFU website:



Fadiman, A. (2012). The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down: A Hmong Child, Her American Doctors, and the Collision of Two Cultures. Second Edition. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux.
ISBN: 978-0-374533403

Hamdy, S., & Nye, C. (2017). Lissa: A Story about Medical Promise, Friendship, and Revolution. Toronto: University of Toronto Press.
ISBN: 978-1-487593476

Murchison, J. M. (2017). X-Rays, Spirits, and Witches: Understanding Health and Illness in Ethnographic Context. Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield.
ISBN: 978-1-442267404

Registrar Notes:

SFU’s Academic Integrity web site is filled with information on what is meant by academic dishonesty, where you can find resources to help with your studies and the consequences of cheating.  Check out the site for more information and videos that help explain the issues in plain English.

Each student is responsible for his or her conduct as it affects the University community.  Academic dishonesty, in whatever form, is ultimately destructive of the values of the University. Furthermore, it is unfair and discouraging to the majority of students who pursue their studies honestly. Scholarly integrity is required of all members of the University.