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Sienna Craig

Sienna in Nepal 2012


Faculty Fellow 2012-14

Associate Professor of Anthropology

Sienna R. Craig has been selected as the Ethics Institute Faculty Fellow 2012—14.  The title of her proposed project is: Ethics and the Medical Humanities: Beyond the "Hidden Curriculum" at Geisel School of Medicine.

As a cultural anthropologist, the major focus of my research, writing, and teaching is the social study of medicine. I am invested in understanding the multiple ways that so-called 'traditional' medical systems interact with biomedicine: from patient-healer relationships and the cultural meanings people ascribe to suffering and affliction; to the wider socioeconomic and political circumstances in which medical practitioners are trained, healing occurs, and medicines are produced, evaluated, and distributed. My current research and writing projects investigate contemporary Tibetan medicine, both in Nepal and Tibetan areas of China and as a globalizing "complementary and alternative" medicine. I analyze how practitioners of Tibetan medicine transmit knowledge between generations, and how they are professionalizing. I also address the translation of science across cultural, epistemological, and ideological borders by documenting what happens when Tibetan medicines are made to adhere to biomedical standards of drug safety and quality, and as they are evaluated through clinical research in Asia and the West. In Nepal and China, where I work, these dynamics reflect nation-building agendas and the politics of identity; they also illuminate an expanding global market for complementary and alternative medicines and point to the ethical, economic, and environmental challenges inherent in producing traditional medicines for mass markets.


This year, as part of my fellowship at the Ethics Institute, I am participating in the Ethics and Medical Humanities Working Group within the Geisel School of Medicine curriculum redesign process. My task is to work with others on the group to think critically and creatively about the place anthropology and the social sciences might have within the new curriculum and to collaborate with others in this group working on topics such as health care ethics, history of medicine, literature and narrative writing, and social justice and physician role in society - among other threads.

To view a recent blog post about the process of writing my most recent book: LibraryMuse.

Last Updated: 5/8/14