For your final paper you will critically analyze a reference from popular culture. This could include but is not limited to a podcast, TV show, documentary, news article, art piece, etc. This should be a source of inspiration. Here are some topics that I have heard discussed in the news this week alone:
– Ebola control in west Africa (from various angles);
– A new semi-effective malaria vaccine;
– Death midwives/doulas;
– Health inequalities in America (i.e. Baltimore teens are worse off than many teens in Southern Africa);
– Precarious labour and health care in Canada among newcomers;
– Refugees trying to cross into Europe from North Africa;
– Anti-vaxxers and vaccine delayers;
Please note: Doing a critical analysis does not mean only pointing out what is negative or what you dislike or disagree with from the reference. It means thinking critically about the ways that words and images can be used to shape a particular perspective about an issue.
For example: How is the issue being portrayed? What might you take away after reading/seeing it? What issues have been addressed? What issues have been left out? How are individuals or groups being represented? How might power dynamics have shaped the way this issue was portrayed? What kinds of solutions do they promote? What kinds of solutions are foreclosed? How has your opinion changed about this controversy based on your readings during this course?
A good final paper will situate this issue within a wider context by examining how research and theory in medical anthropology ht inform our understanding of this issue or problem (i.e.: What have studies about this issue revealed? How do particular ideas or theories presented in anthropological literature relate to this issue?) A good paper will be clear, concise and incorporate anthropological perspectives successfully (more about this will be discussed in class). The QUALITY OF YOUR WRITING COUNTS!!
What is a thesis statement and why does it matter?
A research essay relies on scholarly sources to build an argument. For this assignment you will be graded for how well you incorporate anthropological perspectives to your topic and your ability to synthesize multiple sources to express your own ideas. This means that you need to go beyond reviewing or summarizing the research behind your topic to formulate some kind of argument. This also means that essays which rely solely on non-anthropological sources will not do as well as one’s that incorporate anthropological theory and data. [see the “thesis statement pdf” to help you develop a research question and thesis statement].
Your essay will be well organised, have a thesis statement (in the introduction), relevant evidence and a conclusion. Subheadings are optional, but often help students organise their paper, but don’t overuse them.
Most essays do not have thesis statements, although students think they have written one. This is because most students do not know what a thesis statement is. A thesis statement goes something like this:
“I argue that”…
It is not a summary of other people’s work, but the answer to a question that you develop after doing research on a topic. I can review these over email.
Paper Format and Guidelines:
• These should be approximately 8-10 pages long;
• Not including title page and references cited. 12pt font, 1 to 1.25 inch margins.
• I strongly advise that you formulate a thesis statement and discuss it with me ahead of time.
• MUST have at least 5 scholarly sources from anthropology, not including course material.
• Please staple a copy of your reference from contemporary culture to the back of your essay (-5% off your assignment for failing to do so). So, take a photo of the documentary, or print out a review, or attach your news article.
Some Academic Sources and Search Engines
Social Science and Medicine
Medical Anthropology Quarterly
Anthropology and Medicine
Health Policy and Planning
Culture, Health and Sexuality
Global Public Health
*** The bibliographies of the articles you’re reading
Avoid jargon, and write in a clear accessible style. Your use anthropological theory and perspectives to make your point should make sense to a normal person unfamiliar with these terms and highlight why it is useful/important/critical to think this way. For example, Kenzidior in the commentary below highlights how for anthropologists race/ethnicity are not biological but social constructs and looks at how this would reshape the dialogue around the Boston Bombings. You can apply the same principles to this assignment. If you read it to your younger sister or a grandparent, they should both clearly understand the point you are trying to make.
Make sure you cite your sources correctly by providing a bibliography so that we know you sourced your materials correctly. These can include non academic sources, internet links and other newspaper articles.
Citing in text: In anthropology we typically AAA citation guidelines in text. Guidelines are under course materials.
A former student of mine wrote a final essay for her Anthropology of Health class for Prof. Alyson Stone and later published it. Her essay is posted under course materials as a SAMPLE. She is now a phd student in the Department of Anthropology.
Sources of inspiration
TV Shows (The birth story, Dr. Oz, Long Island Medium etc.)
The Globe and Mail
The Toronto Star
The National Post
The New York Times
The Washington Post
CBC Radio 1 (podcasts)
The Atlantic Monthly
Facebook posts (UNICEF, MSF, PLAN International)
NPR/CBC podcasts (i.e. “white coat, black arts” on CBC)