Twitter has proven to be an extremely useful platform for learning about current medical anthropology research, call for proposals, and related digital projects. As an emerging scholar, it has also been the place where I have been able to interact with senior anthropologists. On Twitter, medical anthropologists such as Lance Gravlee, David Simmons and Hannah Graff. With that being said, medical anthropology graduate students outpaces the number faculty and/or applied medical anthropologists on Twitter.
In terms of blogging platforms featuring a significant amount of medical anthropology related content, Somatosphere and Neuroanthropology post content regularly. A multi-individual driven effort, Somatosphere features content covering areas such as bioethics, medical anthropology, science, and psychiatry. A significant amount of its contributors are either graduate students and/or early career academics. Neuroanthropology, hosted by PLoS, examines the intersections of anthropology and neuroscience and is maintained by anthropologists Daniel Lende and Greg Downey.
Medical anthropology digital project contributions are few, but there have been a few notable contributions. Over the past few years, Daniel Lende and his students have taken on the ambitious project of constructing a Medical Anthropology Wiki designed to cover foundational methods and concepts within the field. Another project that would be of interest to medical anthropologists would the Asthma Files collaborative , which examines the etiology of asthma from multidisciplinary setting and brings in the expertise of social scientists, artists, scientists, etc. The Asthma Files collaborative team includes anthropologists, such as Kim Fortun, Mike Fortun, and Alison Kenner.
While at the 2011 American Anthropological Association meeting last year in Montreal, Canada, I was able to talk to quite a few anthropologists about my experience as a CHI fellow. Our conversations primarily focused on thoughts about digital medical anthropology as a way to enhance scholarly collaboration and communication. In the end, I received a mixed bag of reactions. On one hand, I was given the green light to construct a digital repository for a Society for Medical Anthropology CAGH Task Group. On the other hand, I think it is important to discuss the present hesitance and skepticism during this conversation. For example, several medical anthropologists engage in qualitative research gathering much of our data from living human subjects. Therefore, we must engage in conversations about developing best practices for protecting the safety and identity of our participants while contributing to digital projects. I hope to address some of these concerns through my CHI project, a digital repository, which will be designed to house qualitative data.
I think one out of many entry points concerning the usage of digital space and platforms by medical anthropologists would be the consideration of digital as a form of social justice and community engagement. This approach would bring up questions such as, ‘How could we put this approach in conversation with the digital divide?’ This stance of course is nothing new, but I think it would speak to the broader discipline.