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Seth Holmes (Dec 2021, May - Jul 2022)

Associate Professor and Chair of Society and Environment and Equity Advisor of Medical Anthropology at UC Berkeley.

My research

As a cultural and medical anthropologist and physician, I have worked on social hierarchies, health inequities, and the ways in which such asymmetries are naturalised, normalised, and resisted in the contexts of transnational im/migration and refugeeism, agro-food systems and labor, as well as health care and health professional training. My current research falls along two axes: a) immigration, racialisation, discrimination, and social hierarchy and b) biomedical training, health care and health inequities.

IAS fellowship

“How do health professionals learn to perceive and respond to social difference and social inequality?” 

Building on social science literature elucidating the ways in which people come to understand themselves and others in relation to salient social categories, I utilise my training as an anthropologist and a physician to illuminate how frameworks of social difference become embedded and unfurled in health professional training.  This research brings together medical and public health understandings of the social determinants of health with social science and humanities understandings of subjectivation (the ways in which certain kinds of human subjects are produced in history) and discourse (especially the importance of the subtle frameworks through which different categories of people are represented) to fill the gap in the literature relating the health sciences to the production, maintenance, and resistance to inequality in society.

During my stay at the IAS, I look forward to working with others at the intersection of the above mentioned axes in order to consider how social hierarchy affects immigrants in relation specifically to their health and health care.