In medical anthropology, the political economy approach was named by its proponents "critical medical anthropology" (CMA). The most significant point made against CMA is that by stressing political-economic forces that impinge on human health, it underplays or ignores biological and ecological factors. The political economy analysis reminds us that humans do not live in clearly bounded settings, where the conditions of life are shaped only, or even primarily, by local circumstances. The Peruvian cholera epidemic had its roots in worldwide developments, from the oil and credit crises of the 1970s and 1980s to human-induced global warming. Comparative material from other cholera outbreaks, as well as from analyses of different epidemics altogether, shows what an interpretive approach considers important. The theoretical perspectives brought to bear on cholera are linked to different academic disciplines or to different subfields within disciplines.