Somatosphere: our first year and greatest hits

We’re coming up on the first anniversary of this blog’s founding (the first posts were dated July 14, 2008), and since I’m going to be traveling next week, I thought I’d go ahead and quickly post on the occasion. While its difficult to judge based on numbers of page visits and hits on the feed, it seems that, one year on, we have a healthy and growing audience—and that we’ve been able to at least begin carving out an online space for medical anthropology. And while we haven’t always had the same frequency of posts as other academic blogs, I hope that we’ve been able to at least partly make up for that with the content of the posts themselves.

Thanks to everyone who reads—and links to—Somatosphere – I hope that you’ll continue to return and join in more conversations over the coming year. As always, we’re very keen to host posts or series by guest contributors, so if you have an idea (or even just the kernel of an idea), please contact us at We’re particularly interested in hearing from graduate students who would like to write about their research experiences, whether directly from the field or while writing up.

Finally, I wanted to list our top ten most visited posts for the year. (This list is based only on direct hits to the particular posts, so it doesn’t reflect hits to the general page or the perusal of posts on the feed).

1. Grandma’s Little Helper
An early post of mine on the early incarnation of Ritalin as an anti-depressant of sorts.

2. Addiction Science and the Narcotic Farm
On the recent documentary and accompanying book about the mid-20th century federal prison and treatment center in Lexington, Kentucky—the US Narcotic Farm.

3. Teaching Anthropology of the Body
A syllabus and a collection of useful resources for developing similar courses.

4. Field notes from Paris: social pathology and the globalization of sentiments
Stephanie Lloyd describes her research on the arrival of “social anxiety disorder” as a diagnostic category in France, and what this suggests about the globalization of psychiatry as well as about contemporary French society.

5. The Colonization of Pharmaceutical Science by Marketing
Kal Applbaum discusses how the marketing agendas of pharmaceutical corporations shape—and corrupt—the science of drug development.

6. The Unconscious: Metaphor and Metonymy
Sadeq Rahimi delves into Lacan’s conceptualization of the unconscious.

7. Prozac in the Closet
Our guest contributor, Liz Oloft, reflects on the tensions, taboos and ironies surrounding studying pharmaceutical use as a social scientist, while taking antidepressants.

8. A medical anthropology blog…
An introductory post describing the intended focus of Somatosphere.

9. Microbes and Anthropology
Erin Koch discusses what’s at stake for anthropology in taking microbes seriously, suggesting that “microbes are part of the social fabric, rather than external agents that infect sociality.”

10. Robert Thornton’s Unimagined Community and other imaginings
Ann Kelly reviews the recent monograph by Robert Thornton on HIV/AIDS in Uganda and South Africa.