Hello class! My name is Tazin Karim Daniels (but you can call me “Taz”) and I am the instructor for this course. I am currently a doctoral candidate in the Medical Anthropology Program at Michigan State University and hope to be done with my degree this fall. I became interested in medical anthropology years ago when I was a pre-med student at University of California, Irvine. I thought it would be fun to learn about medicine in a different way so I signed up for my first introductory medical anthropology course (just like this one!) By the end of the semester, I was hooked – I never realized how many different ways there were to understand health, each equally important in understanding why people become ill and how we can help them. I was also fascinated by all the ethical questions that go along with treating illness – everything from why don’t we have universal healthcare in the United States to whether or not it’s ethical to sell our own organs (topics that we will be covering in this course as well!)
Although I enjoy many aspects of medical anthropology, I am particularly interested in looking at pharmaceutical culture in the United States. Taking pills has quickly become a normal part of modern American life. Think about your grandparents, parents, friends and even yourself – how many prescription drugs have they taken in their life time? Why do you think that is – advancements in medical technology? Our desire for instant solutions? Persuasive pharmaceutical advertising? Probably all of the above and much, much more. I consider all of these factors in my dissertation research on Adderall use among U.S. college students. In particular my research looks at how the popularity of ADHD drugs are influencing expectations of mental health and academic performance. Statistics suggest that there are at least a handful of you reading this that know exactly what I am talking about and I may share some of my findings throughout the semester. If you are interested in learning more about my research, or sharing your own thoughts with me, or even getting involved in my project, I would love to hear from you!
Believe it or not, instructors are real people too and have lives outside of the classroom. For example, I am an avid soccer enthusiast and after a torn ACL in 2012, I finally made my return to the field last semester! It was actually my first time having surgery and I treated the entire experience like a medical anthropologist – analyzing every exchange with my doctor, physical therapist and insurance company. If you have ever dealt with a serious injury or illness, you can probably relate! In fact, you will have the opportunity to analyze your own medical experiences in a new way all semester. Anyhow, I am really looking forward to getting to know each of you and finding out more about what got you interested in this course!