This month’s Ethos contains three medically related articles. In “Knowledge Organization, Categories, and Ad Hoc Groups: Folk Medical Models among Mexican Migrants in Nashville”, Nobert Ross and colleagues combine theory and methods from medical anthropology and cognitive sciences to identify a pattern of knowledge organization that integrates “both real categories—as defined in the cognitive sciences—with ad hoc groups (or ad hoc categories)” (165). Lesley Jo Weaver and Craig Hadley report “Social Pathways in the Comorbidity between Type 2 Diabetes and Mental Health Concerns in a Pilot Study of Urban Middle- and Upper-Class Indian Women”. They find that “both physical symptoms of diabetes and difficulties achieving socially important roles contribute to poor mental health among these diabetic women” (211). In “The Pain of ‘Thinking too Much’: Dolor de Cerebro and the Embodiment of Social Hardship among Nicaraguan Women”, Kristin Elizabeth Yarris examines how Nicaraguan women situate the pain of dolor de cerebro (“brainache”) “in relation to their persistent worries about the impact of death, abandonment, and outmigration on personal and family well-being”. She argues that the pain is “meaningful primarily as an embodied expression of the distress women experience as they confront the often-overwhelming circumstances of hardship in their local social worlds”, and thus such personal narratives reaffirm their “desires for continuity and stability in family relationships” (226).
Medical Anthropology Quarterly features a special section entitled “After Progress: Time and Improbable Futures in Clinic Spaces”, introduced by S. Lochlann Jain and Sharon R. Kaufman. Also in this journal, Merrill Singer presents “Down Cancer Alley: The Lived Experience of Health and Environmental Suffering in Louisiana’s Chemical Corridor”. The article “seeks to address gaps in our understanding of how communities conceive of environmental health risk, what their sources of information and level of knowledge about this issue are, and how they handle potential conflict between access to needed employment and the local presence of industrial polluters” (141). In “Deconstructing Fatalism: Ethnographic Perspectives on Women’s Decision Making about Cancer Prevention and Treatment”, Elaine Drew and Nancy Schoenberg argue that for rural Appalachian women, many factors – such as “inadequate access to health services, a legacy of self-reliance, insufficient privacy, combined with a culturally acceptable idiom of fatalism – foster the use of, but not necessarily a rigid conviction in, the notion of fatalism” (164). Thus they challenge the long-established conceptualization of fatalism as a simple barrier to positive health behaviors.
Among articles published online in Social Sciences and Medicine:
-Four articles examine the relationship between migration and health, including undocumented immigrants’ use of medical services in Orange County, CA; the migratory and exploitative nature of human trafficking and its impact on health; the health of returned migrants in Mexico; as well as the relationship between maternal education and birth outcomes among East European migrant women to the United States.
-A qualitative study investigates Canadian teens’ practices of fast food consumption suggests the centrality of moral boundary work, beyond simple environmental and economic factors, in choosing and rejecting fast food.
-A narrative analysis examines the deliberation process of human tissue donation points to us the importance of persistent disagreement in democratic governance solutions.
-Three articles use statistical methods to examine the impact of health on life and economics, such as the influces of differences of health between Americans and Western Europeans on longevity and public finance; importance of the pain/discomfort dimension in assessing the Quality Adjusted Life Years; and the economic impact of pandemic influenza.
-Several articles engage with the problematic of diagnosis, including a proposal for a new conceptual framework of “social diagnosis”; a comparative micro-analysis of diagnostic instruments in medical practice; and a critical reflection of the emphasis on diagnostic decision making as physicians last resort to expertise and power.
-A study examines mothers’ preferences and willingness to pay for HPV vaccines in Vietnam. Similarly on the importance of mothers, another study examines the influence of maternal autonomy on feeding practices and infant growth in rural India.
-A study examines how feelings of social inclusion influence blood donation intentions among African migrants in Australia.
-An article proposes the notion of “biopolitical endpoints” to capture how British nuclear test veterans narratively connect medical realities to political etiologies in claiming disablement pensions.
-A review article proposes a theoretical framework to study the entanglement of sex and gender and its production of health.
-Two articles are concerned with HIV/AIDS in sub-Saharan Africa, one about community members’ views on structural determinants of adolescent girls’ vulnerability, the other about the influence of household and community HIV/AIDS status on child malnutrition.
-An article examines multiple environmental deprivation and geographical inequalities in health in New Zealand.
-A study uses observation and qualitative interviews to investigate the production of sexual risk behavior in the exotic dance clubs in Baltimore, USA.
In this month’s Journal of Ethnobiology and Ethnomedicine, Kazhila Chinsembu and colleagues present “Indigenous knowledge of HIV/AIDS among High School students in Namibia”. Through focus group discussions, they found that derogatory names, terms connoting death and fear, as well as slang words were often used in indigenous terminologies of HIV/AIDS.
Anthropology Quarterly features three medically related research articles: In “Pharmaceuticals and the Right to Health: Reclaiming Patients and the Evidence Base of New Drugs”, Adriana Petryna explores “how coalitions of physicians and health policy makers in Brazil are scrutinizing the value of new drugs while securing patients’ rights to high-cost medicines—and the complex political and market factors that impede such efforts”. She argues that the drug trial “reinvents the doctor-patient relationship and opens new institutional and socio-medical possibilities” (305). Sienna Craig presents “‘Good’ Manufacturing by Whose Standards? Remaking Concepts of Quality, Safety, and Value in the Production of Tibetan Medicines”. Through a focus on the implementation of Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP) in Tibetan regions of China, she explores “the ways Tibetan knowledge systems and the value of medicines themselves are being transformed through interlinked engagements with science, technology, and the market” (331). In “Reverberations: Disability and the New Kinship Imaginary”, Rayna Rapp and Faye Ginsburg show that families of children with learning disabilities in NYC “are reimagining kinship narratives as they refashion their expectations and daily lives around non-normative children, often taking their insights beyond the home, and contributing more broadly to new cultural understandings of human cognitive diversity” (379).