(Posted April 8, 2018)

Courtesy: Arthur Kleinman

Courtesy: Arthur Kleinman

Huntingdon, Pa. – On April 10, 2018, Juniata College will host Arthur Kleinman, a medical anthropologist and psychiatrist who researches and teaches at Harvard University. Kleinman will present a free, public lecture, “Care in Global Health: The secret of success in implementing humanitarian assistance, global health and social development programs,” at 7 p.m. in Neff Lecture Hall, von Liebig Center for Science.

Kleinman’s work shows the difference between disease and illness by emphasizing the importance of illness narratives. A disease is what is wrong with the body physically and biologically, whereas illness refers to the lived experience of the individual. This includes the individual’s experience of illness together with the social interactions, the family’s perspectives, religious beliefs and other relationships that impact one’s disease. With this perspective in mind, Kleinman recognizes that what patients feel might not necessarily correspond to a physician’s definition of disease.

“We are more than just our biology, we are our social and cultural connections,” says Martina Thomas, an assistant professor of anthropology at Juniata. “When you close the gap between disease and illness, you allow the patient to get better because you are addressing their holistic needs.”

While on campus, Kleinman will also engage students with discussions about care and global health. He will talk to Thomas’s medical anthropology class, where students read “The Illness Narratives: Suffering, Healing and the Human Condition,” one of Kleinman’s works, every year. Kleinman will also speak with students studying contemporary China.   These students, taught by Doug Stiffler, associate professor of history, will be reading essays from Kleinman’s edited volume “Deep China: The Moral Life of the Person.”

Kleinman is a member of the National Academy of Medicine and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. He has published six books and authors articles in The New England Journal of Medicine. Kleinman is professor of medical anthropology in Harvard’s department of global health and social medicine; he also serves as professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School. He is the Esther and Sidney Rabb professor of anthropology in the department of anthropology, also at Harvard, and was the Victor and William Fung director of Harvard University’s Asia Center from 2008 - 2016.

“We need to talk about health as a moral issue,” says Thomas. “It is something we should be concerned about as global citizens to get beyond our own backyard. Global health means that everyone is impacted, not just those in a particular country.”

Kleinman’s presentation is sponsored by Juniata’s Delbert McQuaide Distinguished Lectureship in History.


--Written by Sierra Waite ’21 --

Contact April Feagley at feaglea@juniata.edu or (814) 641-3131 for more information.