Lisa Stevenson @ Medicine and Its Objects

Medicine and Its Objects presents…

WEDNESDAY, MARCH 29, 4:30-6:00 PM




 (Associate Professor, Anthropology, McGill University)

to discuss


with opening comments by

(PhD Student, Comparative Human Development)


“What there is to fear” is how a taxi driver put it. That is, in different worlds “what there is to fear” shifts. It’s a dark definition of a world—a universe of possible/shared fears. For instance, in Ecuador’s Amazon, snakes are one thing there is to fear, and travelling by canoe to a community three hours down the Bobonaza river, I watched every stick to see if it would turn into a boa. But in metropolitan Quito, among Colombian refugees, other Colombians are what there is to fear: paramilitaries, decommissioned guerillas or extortionists that cross the border to exact a price—in blood, pain or money.  Yet, in therapeutic encounters several refugees I know were told they suffered from persecution anxiety and that the face of the killer they saw across the market stall was most probably just another Ecuadorean face. “Do you think I could forget the face of the man who killed my brother?” a Colombian refugee asks me accusingly. It’s as if the therapist is calling her world, a world, delineated by fear, into question. How does fear work to create and break human kinship–or what Sahlins has called the mutuality of being–and what I am calling a world? How do we understand the communicability of fear and its potential to create unliveable worlds, or worlds where there is very little mutuality of being?  How do we maintain any sense of the mutuality of being in the face of great fear?

The first part of this paper is an exploration of the way fear constitutes, or not, a world, depending on whether one’s fear are accepted as legitimate. The second part explores the use of theatrical images created collaboratively by Colombian refugees in an attempt to describe a common world.

 Please email Camille ( for a copy of the paper.

For any questions and concerns about the workshop, or if you need assistance in order to attend, please contact Camille Roussel (

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