VOTE for incoming CAM/IM Special Interest Group Chairs (ends Nov 1)

Dear members,

We are currently holding a vote for two new co-chairs who will come onboard after the November AAA meeting. You may vote here:

Our three candidates for the co-chair positions are: Dr. Geoffroy Carpier, Dr. Michael Oldani, and Dr. Elisha Oliver. Following the link above, you will be able to access their individual candidate statements, which outline their visions for the future of this interest group. You may vote for up to TWO candidates. Voting will end at 11:59pm EST on Monday, November 1, 2021.

Finally, this is a reminder that we will be having our annual business meeting on Zoom on Thursday, November 4th from 8-10 pm EST. Log-in details are as follows: 

Join Zoom Meeting

Meeting ID: 726 262 5160
Passcode: anso_oh

Graduate Student Paper Prize in the Anthropology of CAM/IM Deadline: July 1, 2021

The Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CAM) and Integrative Medicine (IM) special interest group of the Society for Medical Anthropology (SMA) invites submissions of graduate student authored papers in the anthropology of “alternative” medicines. Papers should relate to the study of modes of healing that are either non-biomedical or marginalized within conventional medicine. The award committee prefers work that engages interest group members’ core concerns with questions of power, culture, and epistemology. The CAM/IM special interest group was organized in 2006 to encourage the anthropological study of CAM and IM as emergent socio-medical phenomena with global ramifications in the 21st century. Members recognize CAM/IM as inclusive of current examples of medical pluralism, as influenced by processes of globalization and hybridization, scientization and commodification. The author of the winning paper will receive a cash award of $200, and their name will be announced in Anthropology News and at the SMA business meeting at the American Anthropological Association meeting in November. Qualifying submissions will be judged by a committee of CAM/IM members. Submissions from all sub-disciplines are encouraged. 

QUALIFYING CRITERIA·  Primary or first author must be a graduate student at time of submission·  Preferably based on original fieldwork and data, but can be theoretical·  Must have been written in the past 24 months·  May be unpublished or submitted for publication at the time of submission·  Maximum of 8,000 words, not including references

JUDGEMENT CRITERIA·  Relevance to the CAM/IM SIG statement of purpose (above)·  Originality of fieldwork and data·  Richness of substantive or evidentiary materials·  Clarity of anthropological methods·  Effective use of theory and/or data·  Organization, quality of writing, and coherence of argument

SUBMISSION PROCESS·  Do not include your name or any identifying information in the paper itself·  Provide a separate cover sheet that includes your name, mailing address, email address, and affiliation·  Papers must be double-spaced and in PDF format (please include page numbers)·  References should be formatted in the American Anthropological Association style·  Email copies to Laura Meek at and Jane Saffitz at·  Submissions must be received by 11:59 PM EST, July 1, 2021 for full consideration

We look forward to your submissions!
-Laura Meek & Jane Saffitz, CAM/IM SIG Co-Chairs

Congratulations to the 2020 winners of the CAM/IM Graduate Student Paper Prize

This year we had fantastic submissions. It was a tough decision, but the committee selected two winners:

Veronica Grigio, for her paper titled “Botanical Sentiency and Health: Plants-as-People and Biomedicine in Upper Peruvian Amazonia.”

Veronica Grigio is a PhD candidate in Medical Anthropology at the University of Toronto. Through a mixed method approach, Grigio researches plant-human interactions for policy-making purposes in public health. In specific, she explores how people deploy plant life as a protective buffer against the states of precarity engendered by the current organization of the global political economy.”


Hyemin Lee, for her paper titled “‘Sounds of Healing: Qualia and Medical Efficacy of Acupuncture in a Traditional Korean Medicine Clinic.”

Hyemin LEE is a PhD candidate in linguistic/medical anthropology at New York University. Bridging linguistic anthropology with medical anthropology, her dissertation research centers on the translation of traditional Korean medicine (hanuihak) and traditional medicinal ingredients (Korean ginseng and deer antler) under the process of scientization and commodification. Her academic interests touch upon the broad theme of language and medicine, including communications of pain and suffering, illness/medical narratives, doctor-patient interactions, and medical discourse.

Congratulations Veronica and Hyemin!

Announcing the Annual CAM/IM Business Meeting—November 20, 2020 at 8 pm EST (on Zoom)

Join us to discuss the current status of our SIG and all things CAM/IM. We will also be congratulating this year’s winners of the graduate student paper prize and brainstorming possible events and programs for our membership in the upcoming year.

Stay the whole time or pop in to say hello—either way is fine! Event details are below. We hope you can make it!

Jane Saffitz and Laura Meek are inviting you to a scheduled Zoom meeting.

Topic: CAM/IM Annual Business Meeting
Time: Nov 20, 2020 08:00 PM Eastern Time (US and Canada)

Meeting ID: 978 9764 0910
Passcode: camim

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What I’ve Been Reading – 6/18/2017

I’m a fan of Playtypus’ (somewhat) weekly roundup and Neuroanthropology’s frequent facebook posts. In my day-to-day work as a health services researcher I don’t have a lot of space to think about complementary and integrative health or anthropology per se. I’m using my first blog post to run through some recent articles and posts that helped me re-engage with anthropological perspectives around health and healing that may be of interest to others here. This list would have been better curated, but a colleague distracted me mid-week with a question about ethnography and complexity science that took me down a less related rabbit hole.

What are your favorite places on the internet related to complementary and integrative health or that help you to think more deeply about the work you’re doing? Do any of you keep blogs? Consider contributing a post to this one! 


NPR covered a report from Georgetown Law’s Center on Poverty and Inequality on the potential benefits of yoga and mindfulness programs for girls in the juvenile justice system who have experienced trauma. Recently, I’ve been thinking more about military service-related and other trauma among veterans (particularly female veterans), and the U.S. Veteran’s Health Administration’s whole health model of care. (more to come in upcoming blog posts) Anthropologists have the potential to contribute (and continue contributing) good things to these efforts by studying, among other things, how these therapies are most successfully implemented and maintained, the ways in which complementary and integrative care are coopted by biomedicine, the new therapeutic lenses and processes they offer, the (different) outcomes they might encourage us to attend to.  (See Emery’s post on an NCCIH funding opportunity)


On a similar thread: Super tiny pilot study that touches on placebo, patient expectations, and hope. What grabbed my attention were the idea of patients’ self-healing power, and importance placed on specific and non-specific treatment effects (which reminds me of complexity theory). The authors argue “the unspecific effects are produced by thorough anamneses, building trust, identification and agreement of a common understanding and mutual goals, being professional, taking control of the situation, and showing empathy and respect towards the patient.”


Do you incorporate visual methods in your work? It’s always one of the top three things I want to do, but it’s not something I’ve used effectively. This article on using photography to understand how people perceive happiness makes me want to do better.


This 2013 article about a farm training program for veterans recently showed up in a feed. It reminded me of the work of fellow Veterans Health Administration anthropologist Karen Besterman-Dahan and others to use community agriculture to help veterans transition back civilian life. In the article, Karen says, “’Veterans join the military because they want to make a difference in the world […] And coming back and being able to serve their community, this is a definite way and a very life affirming way.’” Both these articles offer opportunities to think about healing, identity, connectivity, and place in new ways.


A little over a year ago, I went on a “field trip” to several military simulation centers. At one, where troops were put through battlefield simulations to prepare for deployment, staff expressed interest in studying how simulations could be used to both identify people who might be at enhanced risk for developing PTSD and for helping provide exposure therapy for people who have developed PTSD in the field. Turns out, people have already been working on this. Back in April, Rolling Stone had a piece on how virtual reality is being used in exposure therapy for returned troops. The article quotes a doctor who calls this “‘hard medicine for hard problems.'” The treatment is described as addressing cognitive and behavioral parts of trauma. However, I wonder what insights anthropologists might bring to this using CAM/IM literature? Could ritual and performance be useful concepts here? Moral trauma? What about the social parts of these experiences? Others?


Even during the horrible (horrible) Texas summers, you’ll find me taking walking breaks around the hospital to help me think through issues or expend pent up energy. New-ish research out of Stanford provides evidence for how walking can facilitate creativity. The authors suggest that “any movement away from an emotional baseline is useful for creative thinking”. What gets you going and how do you sustain it?


If you have something you’re working on or read something you’d like to share with a short write up, please consider contributing a post to our blog! We’d like this to be vibrant, collaborative space for sharing ideas and receiving feedback.

Open Call for Blog Posts

Dear CAM/IM Members,

We would like to invite you to submit entries to be posted on CAM/IM’s new website (here). Please consider writing a book review, article review, reflection on your research, or other post that would be of interest to our community.

The purpose of this website is to foster collaboration and communication among anthropologists and other researchers interested in complementary and integrative medicine, alternative medicine, or similar areas of inquiry. When considering what to write, please consider how your piece fits into this mission. We do ask that you have an academic focus. Any submissions will be moderated by the SIG Chairs.

If you are interested in taking on the role of webmaster for the SIG, please send your self-nomination.

We are planning to feature interviews with researchers who have done interesting work in this field. If you would be interested to have your work featured, please get in touch with us.

Finally, we would like to post member profiles on our website. All it takes to be featured as a member on the page is desire to be a member. the Society for Medical Anthropology is currently working on how to track membership in the special interest groups. Once that is set up, we’ll share the information with you. For now, please check out our member profiles page and send us your information to include!

Please use the contact form to get in touch with the co-chairs, Emery Eaves and Lauren Penney, if you would like more information or to volunteer for any of the items listed above. We are excited about the interest we’ve seen in the site so far and look forward to using is as a way to be more connected with SIG members!

Potential NIH Funding Opportunity

Methodology and Measurement in the Behavioral and Social Sciences (R21/R01)

This funding opportunity may be of interest to CAM/IM members. The National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH) is one of the centers participated in this PA. The text specific to what they are interested in is below. The full Program Announcement can be found here:

NCCIH is interested in supporting research to develop and validate measures of mind and body interventions, including methodology to measure fidelity and adherence of subjects to mind and body interventions; measures to assess provider fidelity of implementation of the research protocol as part of the training process; research on measures of physical function in chronic pain populations; novel techniques for data analysis of mega data from body sensors to characterize physical function and/or participation in movement meditation therapies. Validation of less intensive sleep measures in comparison to standard validated measures in the context of chronic pain populations is also of interest, as is the development and validation of methodology or measures that will facilitate mechanistic research of mind and body interventions with a primary focus on meditative or mental aspects of these interventions. NCCIH will not support research proposing efficacy or effectiveness clinical trials with this funding opportunity.

Welcome to our new website

Hello CAM/IM members and potential members! Welcome to our new website. We hope the space will become a hub for collaboration and inspiration for anthropologists who study complementary and alternative medicine, integrative medicine, and the many forms of non-Western healing that tie our work together.