In the early 1970s Margaret Clark, from the University of California, San Francisco, and George Foster, University of California, Berkeley, created a joint graduate program that founded a discipline, medical anthropology. Clark ‘s efforts in her scholarly research and teaching promoted the perspective that health care cannot be organized or practiced meaningfully or effectively without being analyzed as part of a socio-cultural context.
From her first book, Health in Mexican-American Culture (1959) to her later works including Culture and Aging(1967), Clark pioneered the significance of diversity in the study of health and disease, the practice of medicine and the training of medical and nursing clinicians and other health care providers. This included not only ethnic, gender, and age diversity but encompassed disability, sexual orientation, migration and poverty. She extended the principle of diversity in practice to the examination of the impact of technological innovation on health and wellbeing and into the study of the social and cultural consequences of HIV/AIDS.
Margaret’s vision ultimately created the division of anthropology within what is now the Department of Anthropology, History and Social Medicine. She served on the National Advisory Committee for the 1981 White House Conference on Aging and as a consultant to the National Institute on Mental Health and the National Institute on Aging on many occasions and topics. As a leader in both anthropology and gerontology, she undertook many offices in the Gerontological Society of America, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the International Union of Anthropological and Ethnological Sciences, and the Society for Applied Anthropology. She served as the president of the American Anthropological Association from 1981-82. She received the Distinguished Mentorship Award from the Gerontological Society of America in 1989 and the coveted Malinowski Award from the Society for Applied Anthropology in 1992. She was also the first woman scientist to receive the Distinguished Faculty Researcher Award at UCSF. Her awards recognized her distinguished career in the application of the social sciences to human problems.
In honor of her memory, a fund was begun at the time of her death in 2003. The Department of Anthropology, History & Social Medicine is now expanding that fund in order to establish a post-doctoral fellowship and an annual titled lecture series in her name. The M. Margaret Clark Post-doctoral Fellowship will allow her intellectual legacy to continue to inspire and train future generations of medical anthropologists. The annual M. Margaret Clark Memorial Lecture will continue to promote her quest for a cultural understanding of the development and practices of health and medicine so central to UCSF’s mission to innovate and educate.
In Margaret’s memory, contributions may be made to the Margaret M. Clark Memorial Fund in Medical Anthropology, UCSF. Please make checks payable to the UC Regents – Margaret M. Clark Memorial Fund and send to: Department of Anthropology, History and Social Medicine, c/o Margaret M. Clark Memorial Fund in Medical Anthropology, University of California San Francisco, 3333 California Street, Suite 485, San Francisco, CA 94118.