Mark Nichter, a Regents' Professor of anthropology at The University of Arizona, is one of two recipients of the Society for Medical Anthropology's Career Achievement Award. The award – the highest honor awarded by the 1,400-member society – is given for research and communicating the relevance of medical anthropology to the public.
Nichter was presented with a plaque and $500 honorarium at the American Anthropology Association meetings held on Nov. 21 in San Francisco.
Nichter is internationally known for his work on public health issues in the U.S. and in developing countries. The other winner, University of Washington anthropologist Lorna Rhodes, has studied the mental health of prisoners in the nation's maximum security prisons.
Nichter's research has taken him to places like India and southeast Asia to study the distribution of diseases, the experience of illness, and the popularity of healing methods as a way to understand culture and society, and to critically engage the field of public health. His latest book, "Global Health: Why Cultural Perceptions, Social Representations and Biopolitics Matter," published by the University of Arizona Press, summarizes how social science research contributes to global health.
"Medical anthropology is a field of public engagement and a valued resource for those developing as well as critically assessing national and global health policy, community-based interventions guided by such policy, and medical practice." Nichter said.
"This is a position I have tried to advance and model for students with the help of like-minded colleagues at the UA in the departments of anthropology, family medicine and public health along with my research partner, professor Mimi Nichter. Any recognition I have achieved is a testimony that what we have been doing here at the UA for the past 20 years is central to the growth and direction of critically engaged medical anthropology committed to real-world problem solving," he said.
The Society for Medical Anthropology also awarded Nichter its Graduate Student Mentor Award in 2005, and the Virchow Award, with Mimi Nichter, in 1992 for the application of critical theory in the practice of medical anthropology. Nichter was president of the society from 1999 to 2002 and is currently the chair of its special interest group on Critical Anthropology for Global Health.