At the Society for Medical Anthropology conference last week Arthur Kleinman gave a plenary talk on the intersections between medical anthropology and mental health. Kleinman made a number of interesting arguments–some of which we’ll hopefully discuss in future posts–but one was an argument which he has made in a number of recent articles (see Kleinman 2008; Kleinman and Hanna 2008; Kleinman 2009): both professional medicine and medical anthropology pay inadequate attention to caregiving. In a recent online article, Kleinman writes about the significance of caregiving:
“[F]or many people, care-giving is a foundational component of moral experience. It is a practice of acknowledgement, empathic imagination, witnessing, responsibility, solidarity, and the most concrete forms of assistance. It is this moral aspect that makes care-givers, and at times even care-receivers, feel more “present” – and thus more fully human,” (Kleinman 2009).
He also explains quite movingly how these concerns have emerged from his own role as caregiver to his wife, Joan Kleinman. These issues are further elaborated in an article by Kleinman and Sjaak van der Geest, which also serves to frame a symposium the two are organizing on “Care and Health Care,” to take place in Amsterdam on December 18, 2009. You can download the entire call for papers here, but I will reproduce the relevant parts below:
- The symposium will take place at the University of Amsterdam. Venue is Het Spinhuis, Oudezijds Achterwal 185, Amsterdam. The symposium will consist of thematic discussions based on submitted papers of the participants. During the symposium there will be no formal presentation of papers, but only a short introduction to be followed by a discussion.
- A selection of the symposium papers will be published in the summer 2010 issue of Medische Antropologie. Registration for the symposium is possible until 30 November via the website of Medical Anthropology & Sociology Unit under Agenda: ‘Symposium Care & Health Care’; click: Register, fill the form and submit. Participation is limited to 35 people, and registration will be processed in order of arrival. The symposium fee is €25 to be paid at the symposium. Participants will be given access to all papers no later than a week in advance of the symposium. They are expected to read all the papers in preparation of the symposium.
- Those who are interested in submitting a paper should provide a title plus brief abstract together with their registration, before 1 November 2009. The complete paper should be sent as an attachment per email to: Janus Oomen, firstname.lastname@example.org before November 27, 2008. Papers should be in English. Drafts and work in progress are welcome.
Authors are invited to consider the following questions:
- What constitutes ‘good care’ in a given social or cultural situation? Are medicine and care compatible?
- Is there enough ‘time’ for care in today’s health care system?
- To what extent does the concept of care vary in different cultural contexts?
- How can we understand the gender-based differences in care perception and practice?
- Is care related to reciprocity? Which conditions call for care and which ones do not?
- How does the concept of care evolve in relation to the development of medical technology?
- How does care evolve in conditions of radical cultural change and acculturation, e.g. in the life of migrants? What is the economic basis for caregiving? What explains the low social status of caregiving as a profession? What policy could enhance the quality of care?
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