A Short History of H-MedAnthro

Hillary  Melchiors's picture

H-MedAnthro is an independent networking forum for medical anthropologists. Its existence stems from the Society for Medical Anthropology’s recognition that such a forum would be beneficial.

The first ten years

The Society for Medical Anthropology (SMA) came online in 1995, with a Website created using HTML. As use of the Web grew, SMA realized the need for a listserv as well as posted content. But the Webmaster job changed hands every few years and the host university concurrently rotated, meaning that keeping a list and searchable archive would be a challenge. As an alternative to a list, SMA tried to add an interactive ‘comments’ type forum to the Website in the early 00s, but it never caught on. Technology, even then, was nowhere near as ubiquitous, sophisticated, and simple to use as it is today:

In 2002, SMA realized that H-Net offered a solution. H-Net is a consortium based at Michigan State University. that hosts interactive electronic lists concerned with the arts, humanities and social sciences at no cost to list members or organizations. In hosting lists, H-Net can provide infrastructure, maintain list archives, train list editors, and offer the easy cross-posting of things like job announcements and book reviews. An H-Net list must be open to any interested parties. But it was text-based and easily received over low bandwidth, which was important for reaching out to a global audience of anthropologists at that time.

H-MedAnthro was launched in 2003. For context, this was a year before Facebook came online.

In the years since, numerous members of our community have worked hard to keep the H-MedAntho listserv functioning smoothly, for instance as front-line editors or as advisory board members. A list of contributors is below (if any names are missing, please contact the present editor who will immediately correct the unintentional oversight).

The second decade

When the service began,one editor could easily process submissions. Over the years, as membership grew, so did the number of posts; and so did the number of editors working at any one time. H-MedAnthro continued to be run by consensus however, until 2014 when H-Net shifted from a simpler listserv platform to a multi-service commons. At this point, the Advisory Board, with input from the editors, determined that the board should have a chair and that the editors also should have a leader or head editor. It was further stipulated that retiring Head Editors would rotate onto the Advisory Board, so as to make the most of his/her familiarity with the day-to-day needs of editors.

In the past few years, with the rise of social media, more and more separate communication channels have emerged within medical anthropology. Simultaneously, ties with SMA weakened as personnel shifted and institutional memory faded. To help guard against fragmentation, in 2014, H-MedAnthro’s Advisory Board proposed a formal re-linkage with SMA, maintaining that SMA should hold one seat on the H-MedAnthro Advisory Board officially (beside other, coincidentally held seats). This move was intended to reinvigorate the collaborative relationship intended to ensue between the two entities from the start.

H-MedAnthro Editors

Jennifer Hamiltion (2005-07 [unconfirmed])

Kevin Kelly (2005-11)

Frank Mannix (2005-07 [unconfirmed])

Hillary Melchiors (2012-14; Head Editor 2014-present)

Gilbert Quintero (2004-06)

Elisa (EJ) Sobo (Founding Editor, 2003-05)

Virginie Tallio (2012-present)

Emma Varley ( 2014-present)

Emily Wentzell (Editor, 2007-12)

Advisory Board Members

Betsy Brada (Founder, 2003-present)

Doug Feldman (2012-present

Craig Janes (2003-present)

Helen Lambert (2004-09)

Mark Nichter (Founder, 2003)

Elisa (EJ) Sobo (2005-present)

Janelle Taylor (2003-present)

Arachu Castro (2004-06)

Marcia Inhorn (2005-09)

Lauren Wynne (2004-2007)



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