Furthermore, the book misses impor- tant opportunities to explore the prob- lematic uses of culture in clinical settings. The section on “culturally competent care” (pp. 162–165) portrays this as a posi- tive development that helps produce better health outcomes for ethnic minority groups. Despite the brief acknowledgment that cul- tural issues must be addressed for all people, the substantive focus on the health dispari- ties of ethnic minority groups relegates cul- ture to the domain of the Other. As crit- ical medical anthropologists, the authors do an excellent job of demonstrating that
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social and medical systems are neither ho- mogenous nor bounded but instead shaped internally and externally by power relations and socioeconomic inequalities. Yet I would have liked to see more sustained and reflex- ive engagement with the meanings and uses of culture, particularly in a textbook that may serve as students’ first (or only) en- counter with anthropology.
Despite these qualifications, the book’s digest format and affordable price make it a welcome addition to introductory syllabi
in an age of escalating textbook prices and capricious online resources. By condens- ing dozens of research reports, community- based interventions, and policy initiatives into short case studies, Singer and Baer effectively introduce readers to the broad range of projects in which medical an- thropologists participate. Their distinctive focus on practical action offers an engag- ing way to persuade students that study- ing medical anthropology is a meaningful endeavor.