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The MAHASSA program combines Medical Anthropology with South Asian Studies. Medical Anthropology is the study of healing systems, not primarily in terms of scientific theories or health policies, but rather focusing on and analyzing how they are practiced in concrete, socio-cultural contexts. MAHASSA students have observed and participated in health-related NGOs and development projects, worked in hospitals and with traditional healers, and conducted research on the health problems of South Asian migrants in Europe, just to name a few projects. They prepare for their research by studying not only the Medical Anthropology of South Asia, but also South Asian languages, history, political systems, economics and geography.
The program comprises a great variety of health-related topics, including plural medical systems, Ayurveda and other forms of traditional Indian medicine, social justice and health, ritual healing, mental health, public health, global health, health and environment, the health of legal and illegal migrants, religion and healing, and fieldwork methods.
For whom is the program designed?
MAHASSA is designed for students who wish to pursue a health-related career in South Asia, as well as for those who plan to go on to doctoral studies in Anthropology or related disciplines. Graduates of the MAHASSA program have pursued both of these options. We attract international students who work together in an interdisciplinary environment, where they benefit from each others academic as well as cultural background. We encourage South Asian students to apply.
Heidelberg is a comprehensive university (Volluniversität) integrating the natural and social sciences with the humanities. It is one of Germanys top universities (Germanys leading university in QS World University Ranking 2013/14), and one of the oldest in Europe, with approximately 30,000 students from 130 countries.
The South Asia Institute is Europes leading centre for South Asian Studies, with departments of Economics, Geography, History, Politics, and classical and modern South Asian languages, in addition to Anthropology. Affiliated professors teach Art History, Buddhism, and Media Studies. The South Asia Institute regularly offers courses in eleven South Asian languages, and has one of the worlds largest libraries in South Asian Studies, as well as branch offices in different South Asian countries.
We cooperate closely with other Departments in the South Asia Institute.
Our Medical Anthropology Working Group meets regularly for lectures and presentations of colleagues, guests, and students. Well-known experts have spoken here, but we also encourage younger scholars to present their work in progress, so as to foster a lively and stimulating learning environment.
The Cluster of Excellence Asia and Europe in a Global Context has supported a number of research projects related to health, and MAHASSA students have regularly benefited from the guest lectures and MA-level instruction offered there.
We regularly teach short courses in Medical Anthropology for Heidelberg Universitys Institute of Public Health.
We also have strong links to Edinburgh University in Scotland, Jawaharlal Nehru University in India, and the CNRS (Centre national de la recherche scientifique) in France.
The Master program comprises of the following core modules:
* Introduction to Medical Anthropology
* Healing in South Asia
* Methods in Medical Anthropology
Students can further choose between a variety of optional courses which focus on South Asia and Medical Anthropology. We put great emphasis on teaching students presentation skills and offer an optional module in Academic English. The Master thesis should be based on a work placement or a short field work research in South Asia, however, it can also rest upon a literary research.
The first semester gives an introduction into the field of medical anthropology generally and the medical anthropology of South Asia specifically. All students take two core introductory modules: in medical anthropology and in systems of healing in South Asia. Students also begin to study a South Asian language. In addition, they must choose two of several thematic and regional modules that reflect on the one hand the thematic interest in medical Anthropology and on the other hand the regional interest in South Asia. Thematic and regional modules may vary from year to year. Proposed courses deal with:
* Mental Health
* Reproductive Health
* Medical Anthropology and Modernity
* Ritual Healing
* Traditional Medical Systems of South Asia (Ayurveda, Unani, Siddha, Homeopathy, Tibetan Medicine) and their transformation
* Health and Environment
* Health and Ethics
* Public Health
* Health Tourism
The second semester focuses on anthropological research methods and dynamic relations between traditional concepts of health/ suffering/ healing and the impact of modern developments and changes. Besides proceding in their South Asian language students choose another regional or thematic module.
The third semester focuses on the design and realization of a relevant research project. All students take a core module on Master thesis preparation, during which they choose a relevant topic for anthropological inquiry, do an intensive literature research on their proposed topic, and design a proposal and work-plan for its realization. They continue to study one South Asian language, and choose another regional or thematic module.
The summer vacations and the fourth semester are used for fieldwork or work placement and for writing the Master thesis. Former MAHASSA students have worked on research topics such as infertility in Pakistan, the experience of yoga as preparation for childbirth in Germany, the role of practiced Islam in mental health nosology in Bangladesh, or undocumented migrants' access to healthcare in Germany.
During the first three semesters students can optionally take a module in either academic English, or other courses that teach presentation skills.