DOI link for Introduction
This chapter introduces the theoretical and methodological framework of Medical Materiality. It outlines discussions of medical anthropology and material culture studies as they have engaged with objects and materials in the past, in order to situate the concept of medical materialities within the two sub-disciplinary traditions. It highlights key ways in which medical anthropology has attempted to understand places, practices, methods, and material cultures of healing and how material culture studies have understood the active role of things and objects in society. The chapter presents and expands upon a definition of ‘medical materiality,’ namely the social impact of the capacity of often mundane, at times non-clinical, materials within contexts of health and illness, as caused by the properties and affordances of this material. The chapter opens up the discussion of the genre and outlines how the investigation into medical materialities is a biosocial approach that integrates the biological, physical, and ecological insights of medicine into the social analysis of health. Finally, the introduction outlines the diverse ethnographic case studies presented in this volume and highlights the various ways each contributing author adds to the way cultures of medicine are understood and practised.