About SMA


The Society for Medical Anthropology (SMA), formed in 1967 and incorporated into the American Anthropological Association (AAA) in 1971, is dedicated to the profession and practice of medical anthropology, which uses concepts and methods from anthropology to produce new understandings of health, disease, illness, treatment, and care. Open for membership worldwide, the SMA brings together medical anthropology graduate students, practicing anthropologists, scholars, and scholar activists. The SMA includes a number of special interest groups organized to advance endeavors – including policy-related initiatives as well as research and teaching – on topics and priorities identified by these groups. The SMA publishes the journal Medical Anthropology Quarterly and offers venues for members to present their research at conferences.

This web site serves as the hub of an active research community and a storehouse for information supporting the endeavors of medical anthropologists and their colleagues in allied social science fields. The site further intends to inform the general public and policy-makers of the scope and breadth of medical anthropology. The site, like the field of medical anthropology, draws upon and benefits from a wide range of theories and methods. It also serves as a space to promote and foster collaboration and coalition-building.


The Organization of Medical Anthropology was formed in 1967 by a group of persons interested in social sciences and medicine, which had earlier organized in the “Roster of Anthropologists, Physicians, and Others Who Have Special Interests in Medical Anthropology.” The Organization first met in Berkeley, California, in April 27, 1968, at the 27th Annual Meeting of the Society for Applied Anthropology (SfAA), during which the Medical Anthropology Newsletter was conceived and first published in October 1968 with 53 subscribers. A month later, on November 22, the Organization held its first medical anthropology workshop at the American Anthropological Association (AAA) Annual Meeting, which took place in Seattle, Washington, and became the Group for Medical Anthropology (GMA).

Thereafter, medical anthropology meetings have met regularly both at the SfAA and AAA meetings. At the AAA Annual Meeting in San Diego, California, in November 1970, the GMA became the Society for Medical Anthropology (SMA) and adopted its Constitution, of which its first objective was “to promote study of anthropological aspects of health, illness, health care, and related topics.” In 1971, the SMA became a section of the AAA. (from Arachu Castro and Paul Farmer, “Medical anthropology in the United States,” in Francine Saillant and Serge Genest (eds.), Medical Anthropology. Malden, MA: Blackwell, 2006.)