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Medical Anthropology

Bjarke Nielsen
The ADHD 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...
September 27, 2016: Medical Anthropology
Karen-Sue Taussig
No abstract text is available yet for this article.
September 26, 2016: Medical Anthropology
Yuyang Mei
Global health and neoliberalism are becoming increasingly intertwined as organizations utilize markets and profit motives to solve the traditional problems of poverty and population health. I use field work conducted over 14 months in a global health technology company to explore how the promise of neoliberalism re-envisions humanitarian efforts. In this company's vaccine refrigerator project, staff members expect their investors and their market to allow them to achieve scale and develop accountability to their users in developing countries...
September 23, 2016: Medical Anthropology
Jocelyn Lim Chua
The unprecedented reliance today on psychiatric drugs to maintain mission readiness in war and to treat veterans at home has been the subject of ethical debate in the United States. While acknowledging these debates, I advocate for an ethnography of how US soldiers and veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars themselves articulate political and ethical tensions in their experiences of psychiatric drug treatment. Detailing one army veteran's interpretations of drug effects as narrated through the lens of his current antiwar politics, I examine the radicalizing transformations of self and subjectivity that he attributes both to his witnessing drug use in Iraq and to the neurochemical effects of his own medications...
September 20, 2016: Medical Anthropology
Josien de Klerk, Eileen Moyer
As part of the chronic disease paradigm now widely used for HIV in sub-Saharan Africa, antiretroviral treatment programs emphasize self-care. In the informal settlements of Mombasa, Kenya, the management of stress-associated with economic precariousness-plays a significant role in self-care practices and ideologies. Based on ethnographic fieldwork, we examine how local narratives of stress and self-care intertwine with social responsibilities of older HIV-positive people. For older Mombassans, living with 'chronic' HIV means living with an unpredictable body, which affects how they are able to care for their kin...
September 20, 2016: Medical Anthropology
Matthew Little, Sally Humphries, Kirit Patel, Cate Dewey
Type 2 diabetes mellitus is an escalating public health problem in India, associated with genetic susceptibility, dietary shift, and rapid lifestyle changes. Historically a disease of the urban elite, quantitative studies have recently confirmed rising prevalence rates among marginalized populations in rural India. To analyze the role of cultural and sociopolitical factors in diabetes onset and management, we employed in-depth interviews and focus groups within a rural community of Tamil Nadu. The objectives of the study were to understand sources and extent of health knowledge, diabetes explanatory models, and the impact of illness on individual, social, and familial roles...
September 20, 2016: Medical Anthropology
Anita Hardon, Robert Pool
Can global health experiments be part of more flexible systems of knowledge generation, where different bodies of knowledge come together to provide understanding not only of the outcomes of new interventions but also of the mechanisms through which they affect people's well-being and health? Building past work in which they tried to transform how global health experiments are carried out and inspired by the articles in this special issue, the authors of this commentary argue that strategic collaboration is needed to break the hegemony of randomized controlled trials in designing global health technologies...
September 2016: Medical Anthropology
Charlotte Brives, Frédéric Le Marcis, Emilia Sanabria
No abstract text is available yet for this article.
September 2016: Medical Anthropology
Janice Graham
The primary health care approach advanced at Alma Ata to address social determinants of health was replaced by selective health care a year later at Bellagio. Subsequently, immunization was endorsed as a cost-effective technical intervention to combat targeted infectious diseases. Multilateral efforts to collaborate on immunization as a universal public health good ambiguously capture the interests of the world's governments as well as private, public, and not-for-profit institutions. Global assemblages of scientists, governments, industry and nongovernmental organizations now work in public-private partnerships to develop and make essential vaccines accessible, with vaccines marketed as single fix solutions for global health...
September 2016: Medical Anthropology
Thomas Cousins
How might we understand and respond to the new forms of hunger that arise with the massive rollout of antiretroviral therapy (ART) for HIV in southern Africa? Rather than 'merely' a technical problem of measurement, medicine or infrastructure, I suggest that a philosophical question arises concerning the relationship between the experience of hunger, the utterances that communicate that experience, and the bodily regimes of well-being and ill-being indexed by such utterances. Taking the gut as a particular kind of mediator of experience, I draw on ethnographic fieldwork conducted in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa to open up a set of questions on acknowledgment and avoidance...
September 2016: Medical Anthropology
Angela M Filipe
Drawing on medical anthropology and science and technology studies, I present a case study of the diagnosis of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) in Portugal. In a country where ADHD is a relatively recent medical category, still undergoing validation, the diagnosis is not primarily bound to an evidence-making role, and its epidemiology remains largely unknown. Notwithstanding, the diagnosis has been carried out by child psychiatrists and developmental clinicians who describe it as the most prevalent disorder that affects school-aged children and adolescents...
September 2016: Medical Anthropology
Kay Felder, Ulrike Felt, Michael Penkler
In recent years, there has been a substantial increase in bariatric surgery rates. This form of obesity treatment is often subjected to the critique that it turns patients into passive objects of medical intervention. Similarly, efforts to 'rationalize' medicine, as in evidence-based medicine, are sometimes denounced for imposing a 'one-size-fits-all' approach that neglects patient diversity. We argue that these critiques fail to do justice to the complexities of actual care situations. In our ethnographic study of a project for bariatric pre- and aftercare, we show how research protocols not only close down but also open up spaces for patient-centered care...
September 2016: Medical Anthropology
Janina Kehr
Through an ethnographic exploration of tuberculosis control in one of France's poorest regions, Seine-Saint-Denis, I interrogate the relationships between public health planning and interventions in conditions of multiple precarity. I show that the encounter between the feasible and the fantastic in the realm of public health generates feelings of absurdity and futility among medical professionals, characteristic of disease control in the precarious present. Precarity is neither a social and economic condition per se, nor is the link between disease and precarity static...
September 2016: 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...
July 13, 2016: Medical Anthropology
Dwaipayan Banerjee
The Indian pharmaceutical industry has historically manufactured low-cost drugs for the global poor. Activist mobilizations at the height of the HIV/AIDS epidemic revealed a vast cost gap between global brands and Indian generics, much to the embarrassment of Euro-American corporations that were in the habit of pricing drugs for only the wealthy or well insured. As new drug access controversies focus on anticancer therapies, they reveal new flows of international capital, emergent genetic technologies, and increasingly coercive trade regimes...
July 13, 2016: Medical Anthropology
Başak Can
In June 2013, protests that erupted in Gezi Park in Istanbul, Turkey were met with state violence, mobilizing hundreds of native physicians to deliver emergency medical care. Drawing on ethnographic fieldwork in makeshift clinics during these protests, interviews with Gezi physicians and analyses of recent laws restricting emergency care provision, in this article I explore the criminalization of clinical practice through legal and coercive means of the government and the delegitimization of state violence through clinical and expert witnessing practices of physicians...
July 13, 2016: Medical Anthropology
Mónica Berger-González, Ana Vides-Porras, Sarah Strauss, Michael Heinrich, Simeón Taquirá, Pius Krütli
Biomedicine fosters particular styles of interaction and behaviors, with the therapeutic relationship seen as occurring between a doctor and patient. In contrast, where alternative modalities of healing are practiced, relationships go beyond a dyadic interaction and include wider social networks. In this article, we propose the existence of a 'therapeutic unit' in Maya healing practices in Guatemala that binds healer, wellness seeker, family, and community members, along with the spiritual and natural realms, into a coherent system requiring all of these elements to achieve success...
July 2016: Medical Anthropology
Kevin Louis Bardosh
Efforts to control neglected tropical diseases have increasingly focused on questions of implementation. But how should we conceptualize the implementation process? Drawing on ethnographic fieldwork between 2010 and 2012, in this article I explore efforts by a small-scale public-private partnership to use private veterinarians to sustainably control zoonotic sleeping sickness in Uganda. With a fundamental tension between business incentives and vector control, I show how divergences in knowledge, power, values, and social norms shaped project implementation and community responses...
July 2016: Medical Anthropology
Kim Gutschow
This essay discusses the Indian government's implementation of maternal death reviews (MDR) across the country in response to a global WHO strategy called 'Beyond the Numbers.' India's MDR process attempts to better count and assess maternal deaths across the country, yet considerable challenges remain. Existing studies of the MDR process in India still reveal systemic failures including poor quality of obstetric care, as well as omissions or delays of care that are covered up or denied. An ethnographic case study suggests ways that ethnographic sensibilities or techniques could be used to harness community stakeholders or lay perspectives by privileging ambiguity, multiplicity, and conflicting views in order to reveal these systemic omissions or failures of accountability...
July 2016: Medical Anthropology
Emily Yates-Doerr, Megan A Carney
Attention to culinary care can enrich the framing of health within medical anthropology. We focus on care practices in six Latin American kitchens to illuminate forms of health not located within a singular human subject. In these kitchens, women cared not for individuals but for meals, targeting the health of families and landscapes. Many medical anthropologists have critiqued health for its associations with biomedicine/biocapitalism, some even taking a stance 'against health.' Although sympathetic to this critique, our focus on women's practices of caring for health through food highlights dissonances between clinical and nonclinical forms of health...
July 2016: Medical Anthropology
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