The Soul of Care (Viking/Penguin 2019) is an autoethnography of the failure of caregiving in medicine and the loss of care in families that taken together constitute health care’s existential crisis in our times. The book presents an anthropological critique of the human scale of the problem and ethnographically-based ideas for how this tragedy can be ameliorated and remedied. But The Soul of Care also sets out a theory of care as a gendered human developmental process. And it defines the quality of relationships, rituals, presence, narratives and memory that explain how ordinary people endure the everyday suffering, catastrophes, and dangers that together with aspiration and well-being constitute what living a life means. By doing this, Dr. Arthur Kleinman also seeks to make the case for why medical anthropology is important for health care, medicine, and anthropology itself.
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About the speaker:
Arthur Kleinman, MD, is a physician and anthropologist. A graduate of Stanford University and Stanford Medical School, with a master’s degree in social anthropology from Harvard and trained in psychiatry at the Massachusetts General Hospital, Kleinman is a leading figure in anthropology, psychiatry, global health, social medicine, medical humanities, and China studies.
Kleinman is professor of medical anthropology and psychiatry at Harvard Medical School. He is the Esther and Sidney Rabb professor of anthropology in the Department of Anthropology in the Faculty of Arts and Sciences (FAS) and was director of Harvard University’s Asia Center from 2008 - 2016. He has chaired both Harvard’s Department of Anthropology and Department of Global Health and Social Medicine. He is a member of the National Academy of Medicine and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.
Arthur Kleinman has published seven single authored books and has also co-edited books on culture and depression; SARS in China; world mental health; suicide; placebos; AIDS in China; and the relationship of anthropology to philosophy.
His most recent book is The Soul of Care: The Moral Education of a Husband and a Doctor (Penguin 2019). His current research is the Harvard Social Technology for Global Aging Research Initiative. (Photo © Torben Eskerod)