In the Journals

In the Journals…

As 2010 draws to a close, several journals have come out with their year-ending quarterly issues, providing a trove of interesting articles.

In this issue of American Ethnologist, Duana Fullwiley asks us to “enlarge the conceptual terrain for viewing biological expressions of illness” in her article on sickle cell anemia among the Senegalese. Tsipy Ivry presents an article entitled “Kosher medicine and medicalized halacha: An exploration of triadic relations among Israeli rabbis, doctors, and infertility patients“, and Corinne A. Kratz invites us to focus on the focus group as a methodology. Finally, while not specifically medical, C. Jason Throop provides an interesting meditation on empathy in his article, “Latitudes of loss: On the vicissitudes of empathy“.

Anthropology & Medicine, as discussed elsewhere on Somatosphere recently, has a new feature beginning this month: The Canon. In addition, the following articles are available:


‘Who else is in the drawer?’: Trauma, personhood and prophylaxis among Cuban scientific spiritists
Diana Espirito Santo

Sickness, dreams and moral selfhood among migrant Pakistani Muslims
Kaveri Qureshi

Motherhood, ethnicity and experience: a narrative analysis of the debates concerning culture in the provision of health services for Bangladeshi mothers in East London
Laura Griffith

‘There was no other way things could have been.’ Greenlandic women’s experiences of referral and transfer during pregnancy
Ruth A. Montgomery-Andersen, Helena Willén, Ina Borup

The establishing of Chinese medical concepts in Norwegian acupuncture schools: the cultural translation of jingluo (‘circulation tracts’)
Gry Sagli

The pursuit of certainty in diagnosing dementia: cognitive testing, childishness and stress in two British memory clinics
David M. R. Orr

This issue of Biosocieties is a special issue, entitled “Perspectives on globalising genomics: The case of ‘BRCA’ breast cancer research and medical practice“. As editors Adele E. Clarke, Nikolas Rose and Ilina Singh write:

“The Special Section…offers accounts of scientific and clinical developments in this domain over the past 15 or so years. BRCA genetics and practices are an exemplary case of biomedicalization – the increasingly science-based expansion of medicine into more and more aspects of life, including in the absence of disease. Here the focus is on risk – its assessment and management, including such major interventions as preventative mastectomy, oophorectomy and chemoprevention. The Special Section thus extends the emerging sociology of diagnosis and the treatment of risk. It also offers analyses of the early relations of ecogenetics to breast cancer, emerging as breast cancer activism itself moves ‘from pink to green’.

“We are particularly excited about publishing this cluster of articles because they examine an array of breast cancer genetics developments that have occurred transnationally, including research in Cuba, the United Kingdom, the United States, Greece and Germany. Together they offer comparative studies of the co-constitution of sciences, clinical efforts, public and private health care, and the creation of distinctive new populations and subjectivities. And they do so across quite differing cultural and national settings with dramatically different social arrangements vis-à-vis health-care provision. Not only is such comparative work all too rare, but also ‘co-constitution’ and ‘co-production’ are all too often used as a gloss rather than an analytic tool.”


Culture, Medicine and Psychiatry
currently offers the following articles online:

I/We Narratives Among African American Families Raising Children with Special Needs
Lanita Jacobs, Mary Lawlor and Cheryl Mattingly

Family Caregivers’ Monitoring of Medication Usage: A Qualitative Study of Mexican-Origin Families with Serious Mental Illness

Jorge A. Marquez and Jorge I. Ramírez García

And, unique enough that I had to include the abstract:

Magical Flight and Monstrous Stress: Technologies of Absorption and Mental Wellness in Azeroth
Jeffrey G. Snodgrass, Michael G. Lacy, H. J. Francois Dengah, Jesse Fagan and David E. Most

“Videogame players commonly report reaching deeply “immersive” states of consciousness, in some cases growing to feel like they actually are their characters and really in the game, with such fantastic characters and places potentially only loosely connected to offline selves and realities. In the current investigation, we use interview and survey data to examine the effects of such “dissociative” experiences on players of the popular online videogame, World of Warcraft (WoW). Of particular interest are ways in which WoW players’ emotional identification with in-game second selves can lead either to better mental well-being, through relaxation and satisfying positive stress, or, alternatively, to risky addiction-like experiences. Combining universalizing and context-dependent perspectives, we suggest that WoW and similar games can be thought of as new “technologies of absorption”—contemporary practices that can induce dissociative states in which players attribute dimensions of self and experience to in-game characters, with potential psychological benefit or harm. We present our research as an empirically grounded exploration of the mental health benefits and risks associated with dissociation in common everyday contexts. We believe that studies such as ours may enrich existing theories of the health dynamics of dissociation, relying, as they often do, on data drawn either from Western clinical contexts involving pathological disintegrated personality disorders or from non-Western ethnographic contexts involving spiritual trance.”

Traditional herbal medicine in Nepal and Mozambique are examined in the current issue of the Journal of Ethnobiology and Ethnomedicine, along with an article on “the relevance of traditional knowledge systems for ethnopharmacological research“.

The Journal of the History of Medicine and Allied Sciences has three historically-focused articles which may be of interest, focusing on the pathologization of osteoporosis in the 20th century; the discourse of sex differences in medieval scholarly Islamic thought; and discussion of The Belmont Report as it concerned research on children subjects

…while the Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute has an article by Asha Perrson, entitled “Embodied worlds: a semiotic phenomenology of Satyananda Yoga“. The abstract reads:

“Phenomenological theories that posit embodied beings and their worlds as coextensive have significant parallels with cosmological tenets in schools of Indian yoga and tantra, including some of its Western adaptations. Drawing on ethnographic fieldwork in the Satyananda Yoga community in Australia, this article explores three theories of signification to try to grasp the complex ways body-world relations are thematized, mediated, and experienced in Satyananda Yoga practice. These include Lakoff and Johnson’s ontological metaphors, Jackson’s lived metaphors, and Peirce’s theory of iconic and indexical signs. The article concludes that the principal idea in Peirce’s semeiotic provides the most useful conceptual framework for capturing the phenomenology and cultural meanings of body-world relations in Satyananda Yoga practice. Finally, I provide some remarks on the utility and limitations of Peirce’s general semeiotic as a framework for further explorations of embodied worlds.”

Medical Anthropology Quarterly has a new issue out, with a range of articles, the titles of which are posted here:

Characterizing Human Embryonic Stem Cells: Biological and Social Markers of IdentityLinda F. Hogle

State Calculations of Cultural Survival in Environmental Risk Assessment: Consequences for Alaska NativesJoslyn Cassady

Beyond the Reproduction of Official Accounts: Parental Accounts Concerning Health and the Daily Life of a California FamilyLinda C. Garro

Tobacco Talk: Reflections on Corporate Power and the Legal Framing of ConsumptionPeter Benson

Individual Wealth Rank, Community Wealth Inequality, and Self-Reported Adult Poor Health: A Test of Hypotheses with Panel Data (2002–2006) from Native Amazonians, BoliviaEduardo A. Undurraga, Colleen Nyberg, Dan T. A. Eisenberg, Oyunbileg Magvanjav, Victoria Reyes-García, Tomás Huanca, William R. Leonard, Thomas W. McDade, Susan Tanner, Vincent Vadez, TAPS Bolivia Study Team, Ricardo Godoy

Social Inequality and Health: A CommentaryWilliam W. Dressler

The journal Medical Humanities celebrates its tenth year of publication with a retrospective article, entitled “Ten years of medical humanities: a decade in the life of a journal and a discipline“, and several new offerings including articles on disability and narrative, the import of differing depictions of genitalia, the “patient-trade” in Germany, the burden of carers in Alzheimer’s disease, and several others.

Philosophy, Ethics, and Humanities in Medicine, also in a nostalgic frame of mind, has a year-end retrospective with editor James Giordano, along with accompanying interview with Edmund D. Pellegrino.

Perspectives in Biology and Medicine has an article by Franklin G. Miller and Luana Colloca, entitled “Semiotics and the Placebo Effect“, that uses a semiotic approach to “bridge the biological and cultural dimensions of this fascinating phenomenon”.

The journal Science in Context offers a special issue on “Science in an Israeli Context“. As Leo Corry and Tal Golan write in the issue’s introduction:

“The history of Israeli science and technology offers a unique case study of a young and small nation that has developed an unprecedented love affair with science and technology. Unlike other nineteenth-century ideologies, Zionismwas never considered to be founded on science. Nevertheless, from the very start, the Zionist movement perceived the sciences, pure and applied, as central to its program of creating a new Jewish society in the Land of Israel…. Israeli historians of science have made remarkable contributions to a wide spectrum of scholarship from Greek mathematics, to medieval science, scientific revolution, Naturphilosophie, and quantum physics, but little to the history of their own science and society…. The present issue of Science in Context is intended as a fresh contribution to this body of scholarship. The volume puts forward a collection of five research articles and one historical text in translation. The articles touch upon a spectrum of scientific activities, both prior to and after the creation of the State of Israel, but they do not cover all relevant periods and disciplines, and do not come close to adequately representing the range of topics and methodologies currently pursued in the field. …Rather the aim of this collection is to lend further visibility to the field in a way that, we expect, will be appealing to a large audience of historians and sociologists of science working in their own fields of interest. The collection should also interest scholars on the history of Zionism and of Israel, as it provides original vistas on fields that are less typically addressed in the general historiography and that touch on highly important questions.”

Articles on imaging technology, contraception, and modeling practices for health care policy can be found in the current issue of Science, Technology, & Human Values.

Social Science & Medicine has a new issue out (as it always seems to…), and included in this issue is one by Sharon Kaufman, Paul S. Mueller, Abigale L. Ottenberg, and Barbara A. Koenig, entitled “Ironic technology: Old age and the implantable cardioverter defibrillator in US health care“. The abstract reads:

“We take the example of cardiac devices, specifically the implantable cardioverter defibrillator, or ICD, to explore the complex cultural role of technology in medicine today. We focus on persons age 80 and above, for whom ICD use is growing in the U.S. We highlight an ironic feature of this device. While it postpones death and ’saves’ life by thwarting a lethal heart rhythm, it also prolongs living in a state of dying from heart failure. In that regard the ICD is simultaneously a technology of life extension and dying. We explore that irony among the oldest age group — those whose considerations of medical interventions are framed by changing societal assumptions of what constitutes premature death, the appropriate time for death and medicine’s goals in an aging society. Background to the rapidly growing use of this device among the elderly is the ‘technological imperative’ in medicine, bolstered today by the value given to evidence-based studies. We show how evidence contributes to standards of care and to the expansion of Medicare reimbursement criteria. Together, those factors shape the ethical necessity of physicians offering and patients accepting the ICD in late life. Two ethnographic examples document the ways in which those factors are lived in treatment discussions and in expectations about death and longevity.”

The issue’s other articles are:

The construction of ethnic differences in work incapacity risks: Analysing ordering practices of physicians in the NetherlandsAgnes Meershoek, Anja Krumeich, Rein Vos

Accessing the field: Disability and the research processLindsey Brown, Felicity K. Boardman

Unpacking capacity to utilize research: A tale of the Burkina Faso public health associationNadia Hamel, Ted Schrecker

Health sector decentralization and local decision-making: Decision space, institutional capacities and accountability in PakistanThomas John Bossert, Andrew David Mitchell

How will e-health affect patient participation in the clinic? A review of e-health studies and the current evidence for changes in the relationship between medical professionals and patientsChristine Dedding, Roesja van Doorn, Lex Winkler, Ria Reis

Internet peer support for individuals with psychiatric disabilities: A randomized controlled trialKaty Kaplan, Mark S. Salzer, Phyllis Solomon, Eugene Brusilovskiy, Pamela Cousounis

Effectiveness of a video-based motivational skills-building HIV risk-reduction intervention for female military personnelE. James Essien, Osaro Mgbere, Emmanuel Monjok, Ernest Ekong, Marcia M. Holstad, Seth C. Kalichman

Examining the association of abortion history and current mental health: A reanalysis of the National Comorbidity Survey using a common-risk-factors modelJulia R. Steinberg, Lawrence B. Finer

Predictors of alcohol use prior to pregnancy recognition among township women in Cape Town, South AfricaMary J. O’Connor, Mark Tomlinson, Ingrid M. LeRoux, Jacqueline Stewart, Erin Greco, Mary Jane Rotheram-Borus

“When you got nothing to do, you do somebody”: A community’s perceptions of neighborhood effects on adolescent sexual behaviorsAletha Y. Akers, Melvin R. Muhammad, Giselle Corbie-Smith

Do early-life conditions predict functional health status in adulthood? The case of MexicoCheng Huang, Beth J. Soldo, Irma T. Elo

Inequalities in childhood cancer mortality according to parental socioeconomic position: A birth cohort study in South KoreaMia Son, Jongoh Kim, Juhwan Oh, Ichiro Kawachi

A longitudinal analysis of the relationship between changes in socio-economic status and changes in healthBjörn Halleröd, Jan-Eric Gustafsson

The current issue of Social Studies of Science contains an article by Johanna Crane, entitled “Adverse events and placebo effects: African scientists, HIV, and ethics in the ‘global health sciences’” (see also her recent article in Behemoth, discussed in another Somatosphere post).

Finally, Subjectivity’s current offering features an article by Emily Martin, entitled “Self-making and the brain“. As the abstract reads:

“Although explanations of human social behavior based directly on the activities of neurons in the brain are pervasive and entrenched in the natural sciences, scholars in the humanities and social sciences are not agreed about how to critique this new knowledge. Using ethnographic material from the United States of America, this article describes how quite different forms of subjectivity are being constructed by non-experts in relation to neurological explanations of social behavior. The article seeks to open up some questions about what is at stake in this variation and to suggest some possible implications of this variation for the scholarly critique of neuroscience.”

And, finally, note the several recent posts that Somatosphere has had regarding special journal issues not covered here: the Journal of Health and Social Behavior; Anthropology & Sante

; Medical Anthropology; Transcultural Psychiatry; and the multispecies issue of Cultural Anthropology.

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