Deanne D. Dunbar, MA, PhD Candidate at the Department of Anthropology, Emory University, will inaugurate the 2013/14 Culpeper Seminar Series on October 9th with a talk titled ‘The Emergence of the General Adaptation Syndrome in Contemporary Health Disparities Discourse‘.
Deanne’s talk aims to determine the pathway from the discovery of the General Adaptation Syndrome, a stereotyped set of biological changes in response to stress, in a laboratory in Canada in 1936 to its present day utilization in American discourses about racism and health inequity. This journey will entail an account of the emergence of endocrinology as a medical specialty; the construction of the circumstances of stress, of significant life events, and of human adaptation by sociologists and anthropologists in the social and behavioral sciences; and finally, the appearance of stress and stressors in the epidemiology and behavioral sciences disci-plines in public health.
Deanne’s work can therefore be understood both as an intellectual history of stress and as a case study of the translation of basic science research into American social policy. The union of the physiological stress response and American culture required changes to the definition of stress and stressors after these were delimited in the laboratory. In fact in many ways, modern definitions of this concept do not resemble the original at all. This evolution of meaning is not only the result of progress in the scientific explication of stress; it is also the result of its cooptation by other disciplines and the changing utility of the concept, and of science, in American culture. In the conclusions of her paper, Deanne will undertake an analysis of the long-standing assertion that modernization has increased our exposure to stress and in turn, our susceptibility to “diseases of civilization.”
Date: October 9, 2013
Time: 3:30 PM-5:00PM
Laurel Heights Campus