HEALTH CARE AND HEALTH PROTECTION IN THE CONDITIONS OF GLOBAL CHALLENGES AND SOCIAL TRANSFORMATIONS (BASED ON THE MATERIALS OF CYS “NEW PROBLEMS OF ETHNOLOGY AND ANTHROPOLOGY”)

© 2021 Nestor Aleksandrovich Manichkin, Sergei Aleksandrovich Oreshin

2021 – №2 (22)


DOI: https://doi.org/10.33876/2224-9680/2021-2-22/10

Citation link:

Manichkin N. A., Oreshin S. A. (2021). Zdravoohranenie i zdorov’esberezhenie v uslovijah global’nyh vyzovov i social’nyh transformacij (po materialam KMU «Aktual’nye voprosy jetnologii i antropologii») [Health Care and Health Protection in the Conditions of Global Challenges and Social Transformations (Based on the Materials of CYS “New Problems of Ethnology and Anthropology”)]. Medicinskaja antropologija i biojetika [Medical Anthropology and Bioethics], 2 (22).


Author info:

Nestor Aleksandrovich Manichkin, Cand. Hist. Sc., Senior Research Fellow of the Center for Medical Anthropology, Institute of Ethnology and Anthropology (Russian Academy of Sciences, Moscow).

Sergei Aleksandrovich Oreshin, Cand. Hist. Sc., is a Research Fellow of the Caucasus Dept., Institute of Ethnology and Anthropology (Russian Academy of Sciences, Moscow).


Keywords: COVID-19, social distancing, medical anthropology, bioethics, biopolitics, pandemic, digitalization, hospital experience, traumatization, health care

Abstract. The authors of the article review academic presentations from the subpanel ”Medical Anthropology in XXI Century: Global Challenges and Social Transformations”, which took place on December 7, 2021, as part of the annual Conference of Young Scientists (CYS) ”New Problems in Ethnology and Anthropology”, held by the Institute of Ethnology and Anthropology (Russian Academy of Sciences). The article features a review of the presentations, recaps the discussions, points out the main discussion topics. The section review is supplemented by general information about the CYS; it was the third time that the medical anthropology subpanel has been held in its frameworks. The authors emphasize the growing social and academic importance of the problems that medical anthropologists and experts in adjacent fields address, in the conditions of the new coronavirus pandemic.


Miklouho-Maklai Institute of Ethnology and Anthropology (Russian Academy of Sciences) annually holds a Conference of Young Scientists (CYS). The goal of this regular event is to discuss the problems of contemporary ethnology and anthropology. Its participants generalize and present the results of their field research, done in Russia’s regions and abroad, share the positive experience accumulated by academic schools, develop cooperation of academic, research, and educational bodies of Russia and the rest of the world, propose plans for expeditions and research works, hold practical and theoretical discussions.

Starting 2019, in the frameworks of the Conference, subpanels on medical anthropology have been held under the supervision of Nestor Manichkin (Cand. Hist. Sc., Senior Research Fellow of the Center for Medical Anthropology, IEA RAS). The presentations covered the major topics of medical anthropology: the issues of health and disease in the cultural-social context, biomedicine in its relation to other medical systems, reproductive health, psychic health, as well as political economy, discursive practices, and various socio-cultural spheres that are connected to health care, health protection, body practices, and bioethics. Apart from young scientists, the subpanel was attended by professional doctors.

In December 2021, the subpanel worked as well. It was called “Medical Anthropology in XXI Century: Global Challenges and Social Transformations”. The subpanel was organized and headed by Nestor Manichkin (Cand. Hist. Sc., Senior Research Fellow of the Center for Medical Anthropology, IEA RAS). The main discussant was Valentina Ivanovna Kharitonova (Dr. Hist. Sc., Chief Research Fellow of the Center for Medical Anthropology, IEA RAS). In the course of the session, which was held online because of the coronavirus restrictions, eleven presentations were made.

Most presentations dealt with problems that, directly or indirectly, were related to the COVID-19 pandemic. A group of presentations could be laid aside that emphasized the political and socio-economic aspects of this disaster. The presentations were delivered by the following speakers: student of the National University of Modern Languages (Islamabad, Pakistan) A. M. Gujar, BA students at the Higher School of Economics A. Yu. Bolotova and A. K. Yegorov, students of the World Economy and Politics Faculty of the Higher School of Economics A. S. Anufrenkova, V. A. Kostej and E. V. Kulman, the Higher School of Economics tutor Cand. Philol. Sc. M. G. Yashina, the Higher School of Economics tutor D. I. Okhotnikov, Senior Lecturer of the Peoples’ Friendship University of Russia L. I. Zvereva. They analyzed materials from Russia, Western Europe, and Asia. This theme of the subpanel also included problems of religious and political-religious confrontation that exacerbated in certain countries in the context of the pandemic.

Another group of presentations focused on health care and health protection. The authors were: the Editor-in-chief of Public History portal N. O. Lipilina, Cand. Soc. Sc. and Senior Research Fellow of the Sociological Institute (RAS) O. A. Parfenova, hieromonk of Bryansk Eparchy of the Russian Orthodox Church and IEA RAS post-graduate student K. G. Kuzmin, and post-graduate student at the Anthropology Faculty of the European University in St. Petersburg O. D. Yaschenko. The presentations touched upon social, gender, and cultural aspects of the functioning of various spheres of public health. Two more presentations touched upon sacred practices that are tightly connected with the person’s health and psycho-mental self-identification. These were delivered by Cand. Hist. Sc. and Research Fellow of the Institute for Mongol, Buddhist and Tibetan Studies (Siberian Branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences) S. B. Miyagasheva as well as Cand. Hist. Sc. and IEA RAS Senior Research Fellow N. A. Manichkin. These presentations reviewed the global transformations in various spiritual traditions under the pressure of social-historic factors. At the same time, these traditions form responses to the challenges such as a pandemic, gender inequality, and social injustice.

All the presentations were prepared on a highly professional level, with deep and consistent argumentation, and delivered competently and clearly. None of the presentations was left without attention, follow-up questions from the audience or a discussion. The subpanel ended with a wrap-up. The participants pointed out several prospective topics that required further research and discussion: evidence-based medicine in the conditions of neoliberal transformations in health care; historical traumas and historical memory in the context of the coronavirus pandemic; the influence of COVID-19 pandemic on the political situation, state management, health care, and health protection practices; socio-cultural reactions in the situation of a collective trauma; psychophysiological aspects and ethnocultural contexts of “spiritual diseases” and possession.

The participants of the subpanel session concluded that some political actors use COVID-19 opportunistically, their goals are often far from constructive, their actions frequently not well-conceived, create multiple risks, lead to stigmatization, exacerbation of ethnic and confessional tensions, and public instability. A detailed analysis of the Italian experience and its comparison to the processes in other countries allowed us to speak of a “resurrection” of historical “birth traumas” of certain countries and societies during the pandemic. Medical problems are being increasingly politicized, while the political discourse has been exposed to medicalization. In this sense, the studies carried out by medical anthropologists are becoming even more socially important. It is only natural that biopolitics, bioethics, legal anthropology, social philosophy, and other scientific branches are getting involved in research of the aforementioned problems.

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