Associate Professor, Social Medicine
Adjunct Associate Professor, Anthropology & Religious Studies & Communication Studies

BS 1981, University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill
MD 1986, University of Maryland – Baltimore
MA 1989, and PhD 2000, Religion & Culture, University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill

Barry Saunders, MD, PhD, professor in the department of social medicineIn Social Medicine I work from two kinds of training—in medical doctoring (general internal medicine) and in an unholy mix of humanities disciplines. I am a cultural anthropologist of contemporary biomedicine and teaching hospitals—using approaches from philosophy, anthropology, history, religious studies, and literary criticism. I consider how medicine and hospitals are, among other things, religious institutions, with their own doctrines and scriptures, rituals and priesthoods. Most of my academic writing concerns practices of scientific and clinical knowledge-making. I am interested in how diagnosticians organize evidence, in how disease definitions and bodily infirmities are reshaped and redistributed by technologies, and in how our archives, taxonomies, and methods relate to older forms of colonial discipline and biopower. In this current era of “evidence-based medicine,” I am interested in how textual, rhetorical, and imaging techniques condition what seems evident—and more specifically in how metrological ways of knowing (measurement, numeracy, standards, statistics) relate to personal ways of knowing (craft-knowledge, judgment, expertise) and the social formations that support them. My first book, CT Suite: The Work of Diagnosis in the Age of Noninvasive Cutting (Duke University Press, 2008), is an ethnography and philosophical history of CT (computed tomography) scanning. My current book project is an intellectual history of “chiasms”—optic, rhetorical, and philosophical—at particular junctures of late modernity.

For 20 years, until December 2011, I was an emergency physician at Chatham Hospital in Siler City, NC. In Chatham I have been involved in some collaborative community research. And I have been involved in the evaluation of several telemedicine projects.

I have previously served as a course director for Medicine and Society (now Social and Health Systems 1/2) the first-year Medical School course at UNC that helps students gain early critical purchase on their socialization into the medical profession. I also teach in the second-year Humanities and Social Science Seminar series. And I supervise cultural studies projects relating to biomedicine and comparative health care systems. Outside the School of Medicine, I teach graduate seminars and advise graduate students in a range of departments: Anthropology, Religious Studies, Communication, English & Comparative Literature…


Phone: 919.843.8272

Fax: 919.966.7499

Post: Barry Saunders / CB #7240, Department of Social Medicine / University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill / Chapel Hill, NC 27599-7240

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