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The “Research Center on Health, Cultures and Societies” was created in 2004 (four-years contract of Paul Cézanne University) as a research team (JE 2424). It is coordinated by Pr Alice Desclaux. The team includes three professors (Pr Jean-Luc Bonniol, Dr Odina Sturzenegger-Benoist, Pr Alice Desclaux), about 15 researchers and associated researchers, two post-PhD researchers, about ten PhD students and about 15 students following a secund year in their Master in Anthropology course. The secretary is Marie-Hélène Schielé. CReCSS is related to IFEHA (Institute for Training in Human Ecology and Anthropology), that gathers the same professors and assistant professors within Faculty of Law, University Paul Cézanne of Aix-Marseilles.

The team works on the interactions between biology and culture, focusing on issues regarding health, disease and treatment. Our approach, in the field of anthropology, meets several trends in biocultural anthropology and anthropology of health (such as socio-cultural epidemiology, social anthropology, ethnomedicine, human ecology, political anthropology of health, critical medical anthropology). Disease is considered amongst other shapes of individual and collective misfortune ; researches also consider biological and epidemiological aspects and intend to answer to social demands regarding present issues in public health.

The main research area is related to the conditions and social and cultural effects of the meeting between health systems, in the context of biomedicine extension to new geographical and social areas, under the globalization of social and symbolic systems regarding health.

This research is developed within five fields :


- Social categorizations in disease treatment :

The treatment of disease creates new social categorizations, reveals pre-existing categories in social systems, moves frontiers or gives them new meanings. Several research projects regarding the AIDS epidemic, infectious diseases or aging, amongst other subjects, consider this rebuilding of categorizations based on gender, pathological status, age, socioeconomical levels or various characteristics, and study their social effects.


- Anthropology of medicines and therapeutic objects :

Under various shapes, therapeutic objects and medicines both convey a kind of biological efficacy, are social objects, and are meaningful objects. Their meanings and social uses are analysed in various contexts that follow the « biography of medicines ».


- The dynamics of health systems :

1. Ethnomedicines
and globalization

Ethnomedicines develop new knowledges and new modes of socialization, often based on some kinds of syncretism with biomedicine. This research field is mainly devoted to a recent phenomenon : the emergence of « neo-traditional » medicines and healing practices.

2. The dynamics of health systems

Social logics and health care systems :  : Our analysis considers « local cultures of care », that emerge in various social systems, facing the circulation of pathologies and patients. They are analysed through the experience of patients and « actors » of community, folk and alternative, and biomedical sectors of the health system.


- Theories and practices in medical anthropology :

This field is devoted to theoretical and methodological trends in medical anthropology, regarding particularly its relationship with neighbouring scientific fields such as human ecology, and the articulation between fundamental and applied research.

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