Department of Anthropology

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Psychological Anthropology

Medical Anthropology Concentration


Case Western Reserve University has a tradition of strength in the field of medical anthropology. Building on that strength, the Psychological Anthropology Program emphasizes both the contemporary renewal of interest in topics shared by medical and psychological anthropology, and includes curricular emphases that traditionally define the field of psychological anthropology.

Psychological anthropology represents one of the most distinctive contributions of American scholarship to the problem of how thought and experience are related to social and cultural processes. In previous decades this interest has been framed as the relation between personality and culture or between the individual and society.

At the dawn of the 21st century, psychological anthropology is undergoing a florescence and an unfolding of new interests. These interests are compatible with recent developments in medical anthropology and cultural psychiatry, based on psychological anthropology’s classic interests in illness processes, healing, and psychopathology.

They are compatible with an interpretive cultural critique, based on the identification of formative psychocultural themes and the cultural constitutions of the self, and with new initiatives in the cultural studies of science that treat psychology and psychiatry themselves as objects of study.

Finally, they are compatible with an enduring interest in the problem of human nature and the question of what it means to be human, based on studies of emotion, thought, and behavior in socialization and the life course from birth to death.

Concern with these issues within a vital and developing tradition not only gives psychological anthropology an important place in the larger discipline, but positions it to make substantial interdisciplinary contributions to the human sciences.


The program is designed for individuals seeking a PhD in Anthropology, and to prepare students for positions in teaching and research institutions. It is also relevant for mental health professionals concerned with research and theoretical issues related to multiethnic patient populations.

Students at the master’s level share several of their courses in a common curriculum with those concentrating in medical anthropology. Advanced program foci in psychological anthropology include the following.

  • Life Course and Human Development from Infancy through the Elder Years
  • Culture and Mental Health, Ethnopsychiatry, Psychoanalysis, Science and Culture
  • Self, Person, Emotion, Religion, and Embodiment

Other resources on the Case campus relevant to psychological anthropology are the Childhood Studies Program and the Schubert Center for Child Studies, an interdisciplinary research center that draws together research promoting the understanding and well-being of children.

All Master of Arts students in the Psychological Anthropology specialization must complete ANTH 462, 471, 480, 481, and 504 as well as an approved statistics course.

The remaining 9 credit hours are taken as electives in anthropology or other departments with the adviser’s approval.

At the PhD level, students specializing in Psychological Anthropology must develop a program with their adviser to meet all PhD requirements.

Page last modified: January 6, 2015