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Medical Anthropology

Samuel Taylor-Alexander
A growing corpus of anthropological scholarship demonstrates how science and medicine in Mexico are imbued by national concerns with modernization. Drawing on ethnographic research in a public hospital located in the south of Mexico City, I unpack one manifestation of this dynamic, which is the conjugation of the normal and the modern in Mexican reconstructive surgery. The aspiration toward normality underlies everyday clinic practices and relationships in this field, including why parents want surgery for their children and how doctors see their patients and their responsibilities toward them...
March 22, 2017: Medical Anthropology
Clare I R Chandler, Uli Beisel
No abstract text is available yet for this article.
March 20, 2017: Medical Anthropology
Sarah Trainer, Amber Wutich, Alexandra Brewis
In this article, we explore the processes by which surveillance of eating and weight are coupled with popular and medical ideas about discipline, responsibility, and moral worth for individuals identified as fat/obese. We then follow these individuals through bariatric surgery and weight loss, paying attention to what discourses and practices shift and what remain unchanged. We argue that weight loss does not temper the intensity and constancy of surveillance, because it is at the core of ideas concerning good citizenship and personal responsibility...
March 16, 2017: Medical Anthropology
Asha Persson, Christy E Newman, Jeanne Ellard
With recent breakthroughs in HIV treatment and prevention, the meanings of HIV-positivity and HIV-negativity are changing at biomedical and community levels. We explore how binary constructions of HIV serostatus identities are giving way to something more complex that brings both welcome possibilities and potential concerns. We draw on research with couples with mixed HIV status to argue that, in the context of lived experiences, serostatus identities have always been more ambiguous than allowed for in HIV discourse...
February 28, 2017: Medical Anthropology
Erica van der Sijpt
In this article, I highlight how Romanian women make sense of the losses of pregnancies and babies. Based on 15 months of fieldwork in a Transylvanian town, and on interviews with and observations among 'angel mothers' (women who have lost unborn or live-born children) in the Romanian capital Bucharest, I discuss the disappointments and desires that surface when reproduction goes awry. The criticisms of these 'angel mothers' throw into sharp relief wider disappointments with biomedical, political, and religious establishments, and continuing social struggles in postcommunist Romania...
February 16, 2017: Medical Anthropology
Megan Wainwright
The sensory experience of breathing, particularly the sensation of breathlessness in the case of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), is a rich though understudied topic in medical anthropology. Fieldwork in Uruguay made it clear to me that to study the sensorial experience of breathlessness, I would also have to study the widely shared cultural conceptualizations and practices surrounding air, breath, and health. In this article, I illustrate ethnographically how the experience of breathing and breathlessness is closely tied to perceptions of air outside the body - in particular humidity, temperature change, wind, and contamination...
February 7, 2017: Medical Anthropology
Felicity Aulino
Middle-aged, working- and middle-class people in urban Northern Thailand are using demographic categories to imagine their future identities as 'senior citizens'. I here introduce the term demographic imaginary to provide a conceptual framework for understanding how characterizations of the population at large are constructed, take hold, and shape group identification. More than simply justification for study and action, demographic categories and prognoses are key components of the social world made visible in narratives at the micro- and macro-social level...
January 27, 2017: Medical Anthropology
Marcia C Inhorn
In this article, I explore the reproductive health problems faced by Iraqi refugees, one of America's most rapidly growing immigrant populations. Based on anthropological research in 'Arab Detroit', the 'capital' of Arab America, I explore the experiences of Iraqi refugee men seeking medical help for their infertility. Most required intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI), a variant of in vitro fertilization (IVF). However, in America's privatized medical system-where a single cycle can cost more than $12,000-few could possibly afford this assisted reproductive technology (ART)...
January 6, 2017: Medical Anthropology
Mikka Nielsen
ADHD is, I argue, an impairment in sense of time and a matter of difference in rhythm; it can be understood as a certain being in the world, or more specifically, as a disruption in the experience of time and a state of desynchronization and arrhythmia. Through excerpts of interviews with adults diagnosed with ADHD and observations, I illustrate how impairment in time is manifested in an embodied experience of being out of sync. I suggest that the experience of ADHD is characterized as 1) an inner restlessness and bodily arrhythmia; 2) an intersubjective desynchronization between the individual and its surroundings; and 3) a feeling of lagging behind socially due to difficulties in social skills...
December 29, 2016: Medical Anthropology
Bjarke Nielsen
The attention deficit hyperactivity disorder epidemic has been the subject of much scrutiny, especially in relation to the medicalization of children, and, to a lesser degree, to the use of Ritalin as a performance enhancer or party drug (e.g., Keane 2008; Whitaker 2010; Bowden 2013). In this article, my focus is on non-investigated side effects of this epidemic, namely the use of (prescription) Ritalin among heavy drug users. Based on fieldwork conducted in one of the largest cities in Denmark, in this article I trace the spread of intravenous use of Ritalin, and examine how different ways of ingesting Ritalin transform the drug itself, and, with this, transform treatment practices, parts of the drug scene, and the bodies of users...
April 2017: Medical Anthropology
Megan Warin, Tanya Zivkovic, Vivienne Moore, Paul Ward
What are the symbolic meanings of breakfast in the context of one of Australia's largest childhood obesity intervention programs? Utilizing a range of theoretical insights into the morality of food and eating and the anthropology of food, we trace how breakfast is packaged and promoted to families in an Australian community as a 'healthy start' to the day. Through ethnographic and historic investigation, we argue that eating breakfast and certain types of breakfast foods are symbolic of a classed, healthy lifestyle pattern, embodying parental knowledge and bodily regulation to routinely structure daily life...
April 2017: Medical Anthropology
Andrew R Hatala, James B Waldram
Medical diagnosis is a process of illness discrimination, categorization, and identification on the basis of careful observation and is central in biomedicine and many traditional medical systems around the world. Through a detailed analysis of several illness episodes and healer interviews among Maya communities in southern Belize, we observe that the diagnostic processes of traditional Q'eqchi' healers reflect patterns of narrative 'emplotment' that engage not simply the individual patient but also significant spiritual and cosmological forces...
April 2017: Medical Anthropology
Matthew Kohrman
Seen through the prism of public health, the cigarette industry is an apparatus of death. To those who run it, however, it is something more prosaic: a workplace comprised of people whose morale is to be shepherded. Provisioning employees of the cigarette industry with psychic scaffolding to carry out effective daily work is a prime purpose of the China Tobacco Museum. This multistoried exhibition space in Shanghai is a technology of self, offering a carefully curated history of cigarette production thematized around tropes such as employee exaltation...
January 2017: Medical Anthropology
Amy Borovoy, Li Zhang
No abstract text is available yet for this article.
January 2017: Medical Anthropology
Sandra Teresa Hyde
In this article, I explore a Chinese residential therapeutic community I call Sunlight in order to understand its quotidian therapies, its fraught nature binding China's past with its future, and the to care for the self under postsocialism. Reviewing Sunlight ethnographically allows for broader theoretical exploration into how China's economic transition created tensions between capitalism, socialism, and communism; between individual and community, care and coercion, and discipline and freedom. Sunlight blended democratic, communal, and communist values that in several ways transition drug addicts into a market-socialist society...
January 2017: Medical Anthropology
Amy Borovoy
In this essay, I revisit the politics of social control in the context of contemporary public health discussions, touching on the management of obesity and chronic illness. Foucault's cautionary observations regarding the infiltration of normative social values into the terrain of healing offer a productive framework for considering the politics of public health in the industrialized world. I explore Japan's public health paradigm and its key features of bureaucratic reform and health interventions through screening, socialization, education, and aggressive lifestyle training, and I consider the close proximity between health and socio-cultural values in the management of chronic conditions in Japan...
January 2017: Medical Anthropology
Laura C Nelson
Cancer incidence has been rising in South Korea, coincident with industrialization and with increased longevity. This has opened the way to a presentation of cancer as a symptom of prosperity and social advancement. Cancer care for older South Koreans is marketed widely as a way of giving back to the older generation, and is often portrayed as an opportunity to mobilize technological achievement alongside family care work to honor aging parents. Because breast cancer tends to affect a younger cohort, however, breast cancer patients seek more specific explanations for their illness in order to prevent recurrence...
January 2017: Medical Anthropology
Paul Brodwin
The authors contributing to this special issue draw on Foucault's notion of technologies of the self: the means by which people operate on their own bodies and souls in pursuit of self-transformation, always according to particular regimes of value. Foucault's notion remains attractive to anthropology: the technologies are ethnographically visible, and they illustrate how power affects the intimate realms of social life. The authors in this issue take up three problems: (1) the process by which people craft new subjectivities, (2) the genealogy of the new technologies of the self now circulating in East Asia, and (3) the forms of governance and political rationality that they justify...
January 2017: Medical Anthropology
Carolyn Heitmeyer
Public engagement through government-sponsored "public consultations" in biomedical innovation, specifically stem cell research and therapy, has been relatively limited in India. However, patient groups are drawing upon collaborations with medical practitioners to gain leverage in promoting biomedical research and the conditions under which patients can access experimental treatments. Based on qualitative fieldwork conducted between 2012 and 2015, I examine the ways in which two patient groups engaged with debates around how experimental stem cell therapy should be regulated, given the current lack of legally binding research guidelines...
December 23, 2016: Medical Anthropology
Camilo Sanz
I discuss the physical wearing out of low-income cancer patients in the aftermath of the neoliberal restructuring of the Colombian health care system in 1993. The settings for this struggle are the hospitals and the health insurance companies; the actors are bodies with cancer, the physicians who diagnose people with cancer, and the relatives who care for them. I show how most low-income patients, instead of accessing complete anticancer treatments in a timely fashion, have to negotiate and confront health insurance companies and profit-making...
December 23, 2016: Medical Anthropology
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