I believe the ethnomedical approach is the most useful method to studying anthropology. Our definition of anthropology, as stated in lecture, is the study of humankind. To me that means looking past the genetics of an individual or the quality of the environment they live in. You also have to analyze how they are detecting illnesses and what the protocol for addressing those illnesses are. I also feel as though the ethnomedical approach incorporates ideas from the other approaches and makes the study of anthropology more unified. Although you do look at how the illness is perceived and what categorizes it as an illness, that requires you too look at the surrounding cultural environment (Biological) to see what might have triggered that idea or even how certain individuals describe the illness, since that varies from culture to culture (Experimental). For me, all aspects of medicine work together to help come to a final consensus and I feel as though the ethnomedical approach best fits that niche.
I have always known there to be a difference between disease and illness but have never really thought about it in the context that was brought up in lecture. I think I thought of an illness as more of a debilitating condition, such as cancer, and a disease as something you could cure more easily and didn’t affect everyday life so much. Since reading that a disease is a manifestation of something and an illness is a human perception, I have reworked the definition in my head.
After reading the first paragraph of Miners piece I assumed he was describing a Native American tribe’s rituals and customs. Reading through these rituals, it was very apparent that bodily appearance was a prize to the Nacirema. The emphasis they placed on oral health sent a very strong message to me. If you think about it, someone’s smile or bright white teeth are usually the first things to be noticed. Oral health says a lot about someone’s hygiene and oral hygiene and health are positively correlated. Even today people are always whitening their smiles or looking for toothpaste and mouthwash to freshen breathe because life is focused around the mouth; eating, drinking, and talking. Why would it have been different back then? Although they may not have been whitening their teeth, the “hog hairs with magical powder” may have held similar grandeur to white teeth today.
A few other rituals that screamed bodily appearance to me were the fast rituals to thin people and the feasts to fatten people and the breast augmentation rituals. The Nacirema placed a lot of importance on looks and appearance to others no matter what the cost was to them. Funny how today, a lot of things are still the same and play such a big role in how we classify beauty! By today’s standards, the rituals of the Nacirema are harmful and unnecessary. But if we look at some of the approaches of anthropology, we can see that this is just how the culture was set up and how people addressed their “illnesses”.