Public Lectures

The Roger Allan Moore Lecture on Values and Medicine: Ethical, Religious, and Cultural Perspectives

Hosted by the Department of Global Health and Social Medicine & the Center for the Study of Culture and Medicine, this annual lecture was initiated in 1992.

The W.H.R. Rivers Lecture

Presented in honor of W.H.R. Rivers, a founding figure in the history of medical anthropology, and made possible by the Michael Crichton Fund of the Department of Social Medicine, these lectures are offered biannually. They usually are combined with a one to two day workshop on a central topic in social medicine.

The John McGovern Lecture in the History of Medicine

These lectures bring to the University renowned scholars to address critical issues in the history of medicine. In 2000, Kenneth Ludmerer, MD, Washington University, addressed "The Coming of the Second Revolution in Medical Education" and in 2001 Evelyn Hammonds, PhD, MIT, spoke on "The Logic of Difference: Race, Gender and 19th Century Surgery." In 2011, Howard Markel, George E. Wantz Distinguished Professor and Director, Center for the History of Medicine, the University of Michigan, spoke on "An Anatomy of Addiction: Sigmund Freud, William Halsted, and the Miracle Drug, Cocaine."

The Department occasionally hosts open-to-the-public workshops and seminars related to training programs in medical anthropology.

The Roger Allan Moore Lecture on Values and Medicine: Ethical, Religious, and Cultural Perspectives

About Roger Allan Moore
By the Right Reverend Richard F. Holloway, Bishop of Edinburgh
June 12, 1990

BA Cum Laude, Harvard College, 1953
JD, Harvard Law School, 1956
Secretary to the Harvard Medical Center, 1976-1990
Clerk to the Risk Management Foundation of the Harvard Medical Institutions Inc.
Attorney, Ropes & Gray, Boston

"I believe that Roger Allan Moore was a great man, an unusual man. Roger loved custom and ceremony and old traditions. He loved Harvard, its lore and rituals. Roger loved words, the cadences of great literature and oratory. He was himself a great orator, with a magnificent voice, deep, rich, resonant.

"Roger warred against time, not only in the sense that he wanted to fill every minute — though that was true — but in the profounder sense that it was time he mourned, time he sought, somehow, to arrest. And Roger was a great family man, formidable in his fathering, proud of the warm and lovely woman he was married to, devoted to his children and his children’s children.

"He was a player in history. He worked to preserve and adapt the traditions and institutions he loved by steering them through rough waters. He did this by reconciling factions, putting together deals and keeping people talking. He was a genius at fixing things. His genius was to help things work, even when they were breaking down. He was a strong and determined man who spent himself on making systems as good as they could be in our flawed world. Roger Moore was a great American."

Past Roger Allan Moore Lectures:
  • 2023: Dorothy E. RobertsGeorge A. Weiss University Professor of Law & Sociology at the University of Pennsylvania, inaugural Raymond Pace and Sadie Tanner Mossell Alexander Professor of Civil Ri­­­­­ghts and Founding director of the Penn Program on Race, Science, and Society. How the Supreme Court Devalues Reproductive Freedom— and the Urgency of Reproductive Justice
  • 2019: Warwick Anderson, Gough Whitlam and Malcolm Fraser Visiting Professor of Australian Studies at Harvard University, The University of Sydney. Planetary Health History
  • 2018: Stephen Breyer, Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States. The Work of the Supreme Court
  • 2017: Kay Redfield Jamison, The Dalio Family Professor in Mood Disorders and Professor of Psychiatry at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. Healing the Mind: Writing Takes the AChe Away
  • 2016: James Ferguson, Susan S. and William H. Hindle Professor, Stanford University. Presence and Social Obligation: An Essay on the Share
  • 2015: Vikram Patel, Professor of International Mental Health, Centre for Global Mental Health, London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, London, UK. Rethinking mental health care: bridging the credibility gap
  • 2013: Amartya Sen, Lamont University Professor, Department of Philosophy, Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts. Medical Needs and Social Priorities
  • 2012: Didier Fassin, James D. Wolfensohn Professor, School of Social Science, Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton, New Jersey. On Resentment and Ressentiment
  • 2008: Thomas Pogge, Political Science, Columbia University; Australia National University, Center for Applied Philosophy and Public Ethics; Oslo University Centre for the Study of Mind in Nature. Rewarding Health Impact: A Complement to the Patent Regime
  • 2006: Arjun Appadurai, The New School, New York. Amputation, Excision, Sacrifice: The Social Ambitions of Violence
  • 2004: Gilles Bibeau, University of Montreal, Canada. The Quebec National Genome for Sale: Genotech companies under ethnographic surveillance
  • 2003: Paul Appelbaum, President, American Psychiatric Association; Professor and Chair of Psychiatry, University of Massachusetts Medical School. International Approaches to Involuntary Civil Commitment
  • 2002: Robert J. Barrett, University of Adelaide, Australia. Journey into Madness: Cultural Themes and Psychosis among the Iban, a Former Headhunting People
  • 2001: Theresa O’Nell, University of Oregon. Culture and Pathology: Loneliness and Depression in American Indian Communities Revisited; Thomas Csordas, Case Western Reserve University. Healing and the Human Condition: Scenes from the Present Moment in Navajoland
  • 2000: William Styron. Darkness Visible: The Loss and Recovery of Self
  • 1999: Leon Eisenberg, Department of Social Medicine, Harvard Medical School. Should the Right to Grow Old Be Rationed?
  • 1998: Gerald Bruns, Department of English, University of Notre Dame. On Ceasing to Be Human
  • 1997: Shigehisa Kuriyama, International Research Center, Kyoto. The Expressiveness of the Body and the Divergence of Greek and Chinese Medicine
  • 1996: Jean Starobinski, Université de Genève. The Development of the Concept of Reaction: A Study in Historical Semantics and Cultural History
  • 1995: William E. Connolly, The Johns Hopkins University. Suffering, Ethics, and the Politics of Becoming
  • 1994: Judith P. Swazey, President, Acadia Institute. Integrity in Research and Scholarship: Reflections on Professional Responsibility and the Cultures of Science and Medicine
  • 1993: Sherman James, School of Public Health, University of Michigan. John Henryism and the Health of African Americans
  • 1992: Margaret Lock, McGill University School of Medicine. Resisting Brain Death: Reflections on the Japanese Debate

The W.H.R. Rivers Lecture

The W.H.R. Rivers Distinguished Lectures in Social Medicine are presented in honor of W.H.R. Rivers and are made possible by the Michael Crichton Fund of the Department of Social Medicine. The Lectures are delivered biannually by an outstanding social scientist or physician who has made a substantial contribution to social medicine. They are presented in conjunction with a workshop on a related topic.

About W.H.R. Rivers

W.H.R. (William Halse Rivers) Rivers (1864-1922), anthropologist and psychologist, was one of the first ethnographers at the end of the 19th century to do anthropological field research. His ethnographic work yielded accounts of the Todas of South India and of Melanesian peoples that are regarded as classics to this day. His pursuits included experimental psychology, studies in kinship and social organization, and psychotherapy.

W.H.R. Rivers’s classic exploration of the concept of disease in traditional societies and of the relationship between culture and medicine was most powerfully expressed in his 1924 book,Medicine, Magic and Religion, the published version of his FitzPatrick Lectures, presented at the Royal College of Physicians in 1915 and 1916.

Today, Rivers is regarded as a distinguished forebear to the fields of medical anthropology, cultural psychiatry and social medicine.

Lectures and Symposia

  • 2011: Anthropology and Philosophy: Affinities and Antagonisms (symposium). This symposium explored relationships between philosophies and anthropology through presentations from practitioners of empirically-grounded ethnography who have found, either in the course of fieldwork or in questioning their own mode of relation to the world, that anthropological models and theories could not fully address their puzzles and who have engaged with philosophical traditions to illuminate their work. Sample topics: "Must we be Bad Epistemologists? Illusions of Transparency, the Opaque Other, Foibles of Interpretation;" "What is Subjectivity? William James, Psychiatry, and Anthropology;" "Human Becomings and Having an Idea in Anthropology Today;" "Ajala's Heads: Destiny and Decision in West African Thought;" "Philosophical Allegiances and Ethnographic Attentiveness;" "Yet I Exist: Moment and Flux in Everyday Life Existence;" "Speaking Universally: Tracks between Iqbal's Philosophy and Historical Anthropology." An edited volume has emerged from the workshop titled Anthropology and Philosophy: Affinities and Antagonisms (eds) Veena Das, Arthur Kleinman, Michael D. Jackson and Bhrigupati Singh. The volume is currently under review with Duke University Press.
  • 2008: Exploring a Biosocial Framing: Pandemic Flu and Other Examples (symposium). This symposium followed a large international conference on Asian and Avian Flus, held at Harvard University in 2006 and resulting in two publications: (1) a special supplement in the Journal of Infectious Diseases, "Avian and Pandemic Influenza: A biosocial approach" : 15 February 2008, Volume 197, Supplement 1, pages S1-S40. A. Kleinman, Barry Bloom, Anthony Saich, Katherine Mason and Felicity Aulino, guest editors, and (2) an issue of Anthropology and Medicine: Volume 15, Number 1, April 2008. The issue is devoted to papers on Asian/Avian Flu that came out of the 2006 Workshop.
  • 2006: Finding Hope in Despair: Global and Personal Perspectives on Depression (symposium). Keynote speaker: Andrew Solomon, whose acclaimed book The Noonday Demon: An Atlas of Depression won the National Book Award. Panelists included: Byron Good, Professor of Medical Anthropology, Department of Social Medicine, Harvard Medical School; Steve Hyman, Provost, Harvard University; Dean Jamison, Professor of Education and of Public Health, University of California at Los Angeles; Ronald Kessler, Professor of Health Care Policy, Harvard Medical School; Arthur Kleinman, Esther and Sidney Rabb Professor, Department of Anthropology, Harvard University.
  • 2004: Symposium: Social Policy and HIV/AIDS in China. Results of this workshop were published in 2006 by Harvard University Asia Center: AIDS and Social Policy in China, Joan Kaufman, Anthony Saich and Arthur Kleinman, eds.
  • 2002: Michael Crichton, novelist and filmmaker, Harvard College (Anthropology, 1964) and Harvard Medical School (1969) graduate. The Media and Medicine. See a report in the Harvard Gazette archives.
  • 2000: Amartya Sen, Thomas W. Lamont University Professor, Harvard University; recipient of the 1998 Nobel Prize in Economic Sciences for his contributions to welfare economics. Health in the Perspective of Freedom. Workshop co-sponsored by the World Health Organization: Placing Mental Health on the International Health Agenda.
  • 1998: Renee Fox, Annenberg Professor of the Social Sciences, Department of Sociology, University of Pennsylvania. More Than Bioethics Alone: Critical Reflections on the Relationship between Medicine, Ethics and Social Science in the Education of Medical Students. Results of the workshop that followed have been published as an issue of Daedalus (2000), entitled Bioethics and Beyond.