Steven Server, Public Health and Anthropology in Post-Revolutionary Mexico

Wednesday May 16, 4:30-6:00pm. Rosenwald 329

Steven Server (Medicine/Conceptual & Historical Studies of Science):

Forjando salud: Anthropology and Public Health in post-Revolutionary Mexico

Opening Remarks: Emily Webster (History)

What is the relationship of anthropology to medicine?  Does anthropology enhance the persuasive power of biomedicine to win concrete benefits for patients? Or is applied anthropology simply a way for clinicians to flatten the complex social relations imbricated in an individual illness experience into an object more easily exploitable by the clinician, and thus broader society? I aim to probe this tension by means of a case study: a Mexican public health program called the servicio medico-social (SMS). In the 1930s, the SMS aimed to bring senior medical students into the rural countryside, serving as the town doctor for hamlets which may have never experienced biomedicine before. Part of these young students’ charge was to send regular reports back to Mexico City concerning the details of infectious disease in the region. But a critical element of these reports was also the detailed ethnographic pictures painted of a town’s customs, language, and beliefs.

How was this information to serve the Mexican state’s larger public health—and ideological—endeavors?  In this paper, I hope to use the SMS as a means by which to understand the mechanics of the Mexican alliance between anthropology and medicine, as well as the central role played by epistemology in advancing the centralizing, developmentalist goals of the post-Revolutionary state.

To receive the paper, or if you have any questions or require assistance to attend, email the MaIOW coordinator: Kieran Kelley (kierankelley@uchicago.edu).

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Adia Benton: Ebola; militarized humanitarianism, salvation and care

Wednesday May 9, 4:30-6:00pm. Rosenwald 329 

Adia Benton (Anthropology, Northwestern University):

Ebola(s): Thoughts about memory, history, and survival in an epidemic’s aftermath

What does a militarized humanitarian ethic look like? How is it envisioned, enacted and experienced during the course of an epidemic? Does it share an elective affinity — if not common origins and structural homology — with US public health? In this paper, I probe these questions, which have emerged as I revisit data from my personal Ebola archive and the professional archives of a friend and collaborator who worked for the WHO during West African Ebola outbreak. Specifically, I read these archives alongside ethnographic data collected via ongoing conversations with ‘frontline responders’, visits to temporary museum exhibits and guided tours of abandoned and repurposed holding and treatment centers in Sierra Leone. The paper, I hope, will be an opportunity to sketch out and theorize relationships among the range of organizations participating in industries of salvation and care.

This workshop will not have a pre-circulated paper. If you have any questions or require assistance to attend, email the MaIOW coordinator: Kieran Kelley (kierankelley@uchicago.edu).

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Ari Gandsman: The Right to Die as an Ethics for Life

 

Wednesday April 25, 4:30-6:00pm. Rosenwald 329

The Medicine and Its Objects Workshop presents:

Ari Gandsman (Anthropology, University of Ottawa):

Sensing the End: Timing death and the right to die

Right to die activism is structured around the demand and desire to time one’s own death under the belief that the ability to control the dying process eases and improves it for both the individuals demanding this right as well as for their affective networks. In such a way, this issue is often framed around logics of individual choice and personal autonomy. While opponents in ongoing debates over medically assisted dying will thus accuse activists of embracing an unbridled neoliberal individualistic ethics that devalue life and the ageing process and reject notions of community and care, this talk aims to complicate this point of view by showing how this process of temporally structuring death can counter-intuitively become an ethics for life.

This workshop will not have a pre-circulated paper. If you have any questions or require assistance to attend, email the MaIOW coordinator: Kieran Kelley (kierankelley@uchicago.edu).

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Kristin Peterson: Racial/Pharmaceutical Capitalism and Ethics of Clinical Trials

Wednesday, April 18, 4:30-6:00pm. Rosenwald 329

Medicine and Its Objects & the African Studies Workshop present:

Kristin Peterson (Anthropology, UC Irvine):

Ethical Misrecognition: On Racial and Pharmaceutical Capitalism

In 2004, the first multi-sited clinical trials were conducted to determine if an anti-retroviral drug, Tenofovir, could be taken to prevent HIV transmission – a biomedical technology known as pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP). Before these trials began, AIDS researchers characterized PrEP as a breakthrough technology that needed to be urgently delivered to the world’s most vulnerable. But at trial onset, controversies over the protocol erupted. These disputes, led by African scientists and global AIDS activists, were not recognized as actual ethics claims. Rather trial sponsors declared that those who ‘disrupted’ the trials did not understand clinical science. Actors at the host sites in Cambodia, Cameroon, Nigeria, and Thailand attempted to negotiate a modified trial design. When that failed to happen, three sites shut down (and one site refused IRB approval) leading to one of the biggest controversies that the world of AIDS research and activism experienced. Drawing on the disputes in Nigeria, this talk poses two questions: why is there no ethical crisis when recognition of ethical claims fails to happen? And after years of HIV ethics disputes throughout Africa, why do claims of ethics violations persist? The talk analyzes how two forms of capitalism – pharmaceutical and racial – configure the ethical as a particular logic in offshored research: as pervasive crisis and pervasive invisibility. Within this framework, the term, ethical misrecognition, is a construct of modern knowledge that elaborates on how African ethics claims are racially configured as unthinkable, and therefore made to look like they never happened.

Kristin Peterson is Associate Professor of Anthropology at University of California Irvine. Her research and writing are concerned with theories of capital and property; “popular” economies, trade, and markets; health, science, and medicine studies; and postcolonial theory. She is especially interested in bringing medical anthropology and science and technology studies in conversation with African Studies and postcolonial iterations of political economy.

Refreshments will be served. To receive the paper, or if you have any questions or require assistance to attend, email the workshop coordinator: Kieran Kelley (kierankelley@uchicago.edu).

To subscribe to the MaIOW mailing list, visit: https://lists.uchicago.edu/web/subscribe/medicineanditsobjects 

MaIOW and African Studies Workshop welcome Kristin Peterson

The African Studies Workshop & Medicine and Its Objects welcome:

 Kristin Peterson (Anthropology, UC Irvine)

Tuesday, April 17. 5:30-7pm. Wilder House, 5811 S. Kenwood

 Please join us to discuss Speculative Markets: Drug Circuits and Derivative Life in Nigeria

 Wednesday, April 18. 4:30-6pm. Rosenwald 329

Please join us to workshop a new paper, “Ethical Misrecognition: On Racial and Pharmaceutical Capitalism”

Professor Peterson’s research and writing are concerned with theories of capital and property; “popular” economies, trade, and markets; health, science, and medicine studies; and postcolonial theory. She is especially interested in bringing medical anthropology and science and technology studies in conversation with African Studies and postcolonial iterations of political economy.

Her book, Speculative Markets: Drug Circuits and Derivative Life in Nigeria (Duke University Press 2014), describes a once thriving brand name pharmaceutical market in Nigeria that transformed into one of the world’s worst fake (and inefficacious) drug problems. Drawing on the stories and lives of industry executives, pharmaceutical market traders, industry and academic pharmacists, drug marketers, narcotics traders, and regulatory officials, she describes the making of drug chemistries and market dynamics in the aftermath of 1980s liberalization. She particularly focuses on the intertwined nature of pharmaceutical industry speculation and speculative practices found in Nigerian drug markets. Both must anticipate immense market volatility while managing new risks and chronic uncertainty. In tying market actors to both local and transcontinental economic strategies, the book resituates how we think about market making and non-equilibrium theories of neoliberalism in the postcolony and beyond.

For information regarding Tuesday’s event, please contact African Studies Workshop coordinator Raffaella Taylor-Seymour (raffaella@uchicago.edu)

 For information regarding Wednesday’s workshop, please contact Medicine and Its Objects coordinator Kieran Kelley (kierankelley@uchicago.edu)

 To subscribe to the MaIOW mailing list, visit: https://lists.uchicago.edu/web/subscribe/medicineanditsobjects 

 

Raphaelle Rabanes presents on negotiating care in a post-colonial context

Wednesday, April 4, 4:30-6:00pm. Rosenwald 329

Medicine and Its Objects Workshop and the Disability Studies Study Group present:

 Raphaëlle Rabanes (Anthropology, UC Berkeley/San Francisco):

Cobbling: Negotiating care in postcolonial rehabilitation

with opening comments by

Prof. Michele Friedner (Comparative Human Development)

How does a hospital become or fail to become hospitable for patients? What does neurological rehabilitation entail in a postcolonial hospital? This chapter investigates how patients and health workers in the rehabilitation of a French-Caribbean hospital form and cultivate therapeutic relationships, and navigate the constraints of the therapeutic landscape in which they live: the crumbling infrastructure of a public hospital facing financial pressures, as well as the history of colonialism and slavery that continue to weight on the present. In particular, it follows the hospitalization course of a woman who invoked a world of chariots, kings, and princes to negotiate effective relationships with her therapists. The creative relational strategies she implemented to transform the clinic into her “kingdom” reveal the chronic conditions and the racial dynamics she had do navigate in order to build therapeutic alliances with her health workers.

Raphaëlle Rabanes is a PhD Candidate in the joint Medical Anthropology Program at UC Berkeley and UC San Francisco. Before turning to anthropology, she trained and practiced as a Clinical Psychologist in France. Today, she teaches and writes at the intersection of Medical and Psychological Anthropology, Disability Studies, African Diaspora Studies, and Critical Race Theory. Her research focuses on community responses to health and racial inequalities in the long aftermath of colonialism and slavery. Her dissertation, Postcolonial Repair: Memory, Embodiment, and Therapeutics in the French Caribbean, explores what it entails to move, speak, and remember as Afro-descendant citizens of Guadeloupe, a French overseas department and one of the few non-sovereign territories in the Caribbean.

To receive the paper, or if you have any questions or require assistance to attend, email the MaIOW coordinator: Kieran Kelley (kierankelley@uchicago.edu). Also, please contact the coordinator if you require an alternative format of the paper.

To subscribe to the MaIOW mailing list, visit: https://lists.uchicago.edu/web/subscribe/medicineanditsobjects 

For more information regarding the Disability Studies Reading Group, or for any other questions of concerns, please contact the DSSG co-coordinators Sharon Seegers (sharons@uchicago.edu) or Matt Borus (mgborus@uchicago.edu)

To receive updates about future DSSG events, subscribe to the listserv here: https://lists.uchicago.edu/web/subscribe/disstudies-reading

 

MaIOW in Spring 2018

The good work continues…

This quarter we are excited to host a number of distinguished guests, as well as collaborations with the Disability Studies Study Group and African Studies Workshop. See our schedule below.

NB: In keeping with our itinerant inclinations, we are moving back to Rosenwald 329 for all workshops this quarter. If you have any questions or concerns or require assistance to attend any workshop, please contact the coordinator: kierankelley@uchicago.edu

To join our mailing list, visit: https://lists.uchicago.edu/web/subscribe/medicineanditsobjects

 

 

Biying Ling presents on Life Science, Holism, and Hans Jonas

Wednesday, February 28, 4:30-6:00pm. Haskell 101

The Medicine and Its Objects Workshop presents:

Biying Ling (Conceptual and Historical Studies of Science):

The Logic of Science versus a Holistic Worldview? Context and Critique of Hans Jonas’s The Phenomenon of Life

            Hans Jonas is best known as a historian and philosopher of the Gnostic religion and as a bioethicist. Between his first book on Gnosticism and his third on ethics in the technological age, is the 1966 The Phenomenon of Life, a collection of his philosophical reflections from teaching in Jerusalem in early 1940s and from encountering the life and mind sciences in North America in mid-20th century. Jonas considered it as his most important work and the philosophical foundation for his theory of ethics. It was intended as an “existential interpretation of biological facts,” as an effort to bridge the Cartesian dualism that he believed to characterize the modern worldview. The ancient Gnosis attitude, with its radical rift between God and man, between man and nature, was recapitulated in the modern dichotomy between a materialistic natural science and an anthropocentric philosophy of human existence. The same critique, according to Jonas, applied to molecular biology and cybernetics of the mid-century. To counter this inherently nihilistic situation, Jonas intended to recover value and meaning in the concept of organism. By providing a non-mechanistic, non-materialistic and subjective interpretation of the organism, he assumed that ethics could be issued from science, and values could be grounded in reality.

The book was largely neglected until Jonas’s 1979 Das Prinzip Verantwortung provoked wide discussions. The current paper argues that Jonas’s “modern Gnosis” reiterates a branch of cultural criticisms during Weimar Germany, where Jonas came to intellectual maturity. Common to such criticisms was the identification of the ills of modernity with mechanistic scientific methodology. Like Weimar intellectuals, Jonas sought a cure from holistic concepts that could potentially unify science and humanity. But according to the evolutionary biologist Ernst Mayr, Jonas was wrong with respect to biological facts and the logic of biological sciences. If we accept Mayr’s critique, how should we reevaluate Jonas’s contribution and how should the 1966 book be productively interpreted? By contextualizing Jonas’s views, this paper argues that his critique should be read as an intervention in the mid 20th century reductive metaphors popularized by biologists and cyberneticists, which treated life as a coding-problem.

To receive the paper, or if you have any questions or require assistance to attend, email the workshop coordinator: Kieran Kelley (kierankelley@uchicago.edu)

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Jenny Miao Hua presents on integration of Chinese and Western medicine in cancer prognoses

Wednesday, February 14, 4:30-6:00pm. Haskell 101

Jenny Miao Hua (Anthropology and Medicine):

Staging Cancer, Siting Tumors: The Prognostic Integration of Chinese and Western Medicine

with opening comments by Lilly Lerer

In China, nearly every form of cancer is treated with some combination of Chinese traditional medicine and Western medical surgery, chemo, radiation and molecular therapies. The integration of Chinese and Western medicine (integrated medicine, for short) in cancer treatment affects how cancer prognosis is specified. From the perspective of both Chinese or Western medicine, it is a truism that a good cancer prognosis depends on an early diagnosis. Yet, most Chinese patients with cancer present to the clinic well beyond an “early” stage, in part due to the epidemiological prevalence of precisely those types of cancer that are difficult to detect early, combined with the dearth of screening programs. Far more relevant than the timing of diagnosis in the natural history of cancer is the staging of prognosis in cancer’s clinical history. This paper traces a set of encounters through which patients and clinicians stage cancer in relation to sites of treatment and intervention. Through an ethnographic reading of clinical discourses and medical texts, I show that predictions based on how cancer can be intervened upon fractalizes fundamental assumptions about what cancer is, was and becomes. This is the second chapter of my dissertation examining the cultural and clinical practices of integrating Chinese and Western medicine that make cancer a condition that could be lived with in contemporary China.

To receive the paper, or if you have any questions or require assistance to attend, email the workshop coordinator: Kieran Kelley (kierankelley@uchicago.edu)

To subscribe to our mailing list, visit: https://lists.uchicago.edu/web/subscribe/medicineanditsobjects 

Julian Thompson presents on risk and surveillance in mental health courts

Wednesday, January 31, 4:30-6:00pm. Haskell 101

The Medicine and Its Objects Workshop presents: Julian Thompson (SSA):

‘People, Places, and Things:’ Judicial Imaginaries, Risk, and Surveillance of the Mentally Ill Addict in Mental Health Courts

with opening comments by Katie Schumacher (SSA)

Mental health courts (MHCs) operate at the nexus of legal, medical, and welfare borders, often articulating themselves as rehabilitative alternatives to incarceration by offering supervised treatment in the community. As such, they provide a unique window into the micro-processes and practices of contemporary rehabilitation efforts, especially after forty years of punitive approaches to crime control. While many empirical studies have examined their effectiveness, few studies have ethnographically investigated the courtroom dynamics that make possible their rehabilitative aims. In this paper, I attempt to highlight one aspect of MHCs’ rehabilitative logic—and by extension, its ideological work. This logic revolves around several practices that focus on both imagined and real constructions of ‘risk’ among people diagnosed with a serious mental illness and co-occurring substance use and the attendant social ecology of their categorical existence (i.e. addiction, illness, criminality). Rather than radically critiquing and deconstructing these legal and psychiatric categories, I examine how they are imagined and instantiated in the court context, assigned meaning, and become real targets in the judicial process—a process that is inextricably bound up in latent and manifest punishment.  Here, the often taken-for-granted saying “people, places, and things” within the addiction community holds significance. When MHC practitioners work within this folk understanding of addiction, gender and racial ideologies emerge and meld with a pre-configured addict type—an addict type that already at the core is a risk-prone subject. As a result, MHCs focus their efforts on restructuring defendants’ environments, social life, and routine activities in order to restructure the thinking and behavior of defendants. According to the rationale of MHC practitioners, the restructuring process is therapeutic and punishment is merely an instrument to achieve rehabilitation. While the causes, conditions, and consequences of this process vary, what remains consistent is the conception of the defendant as a risk subject whose prior drug use defines the totality of his or her life and justifies the hyper-surveillance of the court—often to the detriment of defendants’ material stability.

To receive the paper, or if you have any questions or require assistance to attend, email the workshop coordinator: Kieran Kelley (kierankelley@uchicago.edu)

To subscribe to our mailing list, visit: https://lists.uchicago.edu/web/subscribe/medicineanditsobjects