[Webshaykh’s note: Dr. Omar Dewachi, a recent graduate in anthropology from Harvard University, writes about his experiences teaching medical anthropology in Beirut. Here is the first paragraph of his essay, which can be uploaded in full as a pdf at http://www.alterites.ca/dernier.html.]

Teaching at the Margins: Experiences of Anthropology and Medicine in a Middle Eastern Setting

by Omar Dewachi, Altérités 6(2):129-135, 2009

For the last four years I have been teaching the Social Preventive Medicine (SPM) course to first year medical students at the American University of Beirut (AUB) in Lebanon. Around eighty students attend this core course, which is part of the teachin of public health within the medical curriculum. During the course of these years I have attempted to use the SPM as a platform to introduce theories and methods in medical anthropology to medical students. As both a medical doctor trained in Iraq – and an anthropologist – trained in the United States – this task has presented me with many challenges, as well as, offered me insights into tensions between the two fields. These experiences are the subject of this essay, which attempts to explore teaching at the margins of anthropology and medicine in a Middle Eastern setting. While situated at different margins, I reflect on how this course became an interesting site for exploring the complex task of teaching medical anthropology in a non-western context, while, at the same time, raising a set of paradoxes that are particular to teaching medical anthropology in a post-colonial setting. My attempt here is not to generalize my experiences or to reify the dichotomy of East and West; rather it is to situate them within their social-political, economic and historical realities.

To read the entire article in pdf, click here.