Medical anthropologist's book a winner

16 July 2007 | Story by Helen Swingler

UCT alumnus Dr Cecil Helman's memoir, Suburban Shaman: Tales from medicine's frontline, is the winner of the 2007 Medical Journalists Association Book Award, made at the Royal College of General Practitioners on 5 July.

In March last year it was named the BBC Book of the Week and was serialised on Radio 4.

The work is a view of medicine from the inside, drawing on Helman's rich medical and anthropological experience. It reflects on health and illness within the bounds of community, tradition and history.

It was previously published in South Africa in 2004 as Suburban Shaman: A journey through medicine.

Helman qualified MBChB at UCT in 1967 and studied social anthropology at University College London. It was only after a trip to the US that he found he could combine his twin interests through medical anthropology, a 'new and marginal discipline' back in the 1970s.

He wrote Culture, Health and Illness in 1984, a guide to medical care with a cultural slant, which has become a standard textbook on the subject.

A senior lecturer at the Royal Free & University College Medical School, London, Helman will be returning to UCT in September for a sabbatical as a Visiting Professor in Social Anthropology and Visiting Professor in the School of Public Health and Family Medicine.

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