Discourse, Foucault, and Critical Medical Anthropology



One of the major research interests of critical medical anthropology is the examination of Western biomedicine. The concepts of discourse and genealogy elaborated in the writing of Michel Foucault are particularly useful in this task. In addition, the notion of discursive structure defines a unit of investigation well suited to the anthropological examination of complex society. This paper reviews some of these theoretical and methodological possibilities, and then looks at the case example of borderline hypertension in 20th-century American culture drawn from the author's dissertation research.