In the newest issue of American Ethnologist, “Resistance or Inaction? Protecting Ayurvedic Medical Knowledge and Problems of Agency”, by Murphy Halliburton, is an examination into the challenges that India’s new Patents Act (required by the WTO) poses for India’s ayurvedic practitioners.
Cultural Anthropology has two interesting articles, each of which seeks to engage with, as one author describes them, “temporal subjects of late capitalism”, who are both constrained and made possible by the very temporal landscape they populate.
The first, “Symptoms of Another Life: Time, Possibility, and Domestic Relations in Chile’s Credit Economy” by Clara Han, explores “the synergy and disjunctures of the consumer credit system and care for the mentally ill and addicted in the lifeworlds of the urban poor in Santiago, Chile. …Following an extended family over several years, this article examines how women take up credit through a wider field of domestic relations and institutions to care for kin with mental illness and addiction within the home. Such gestures of care enact a temporality of waiting, allowing different, but unpredictable, aspects of others to emerge. Through longitudinal ethnographic research with this family, I demonstrate both how possibility is actualized within the home as symptoms of illness and forms of domestic violence, and how a wider network of dependencies—from neighbors to lending institutions—shapes the temporality of relations within the home.”
The second article by Jocelyn Lim Chua is entitled “Making Time for the Children: Self-Temporalization and the Cultivation of the Antisuicidal Subject in South India”. As she write in the abstract: “This article examines suicide prevention among children in India’s “suicide capital” of Kerala to interrogate the ways temporalization practices inform the cultivation of ethical, life-avowing subjects in late capitalism. As economic liberalization and migration expand consumer aspiration in Kerala, mental health experts link the quickening of material gratification in middle-class parenting to the production of insatiable, maladjusted, and impulsively suicidal children. …I demonstrate how experts position the Malayali child as uniquely vulnerable to the fatal dangers of immediate gratification, and thus exhort parents to retemporalize children through didactic games built around the deferral of desires for everyday consumer items.”
The current issue of Health has several new articles, covering a wide range of topics:
Heal thyself: Dealing with trauma work – Gaza 2008/2009
Claudia Chaufan and Khaleel Isa
Exploring multiple responses to a chaos narrative
Brett Smith and Andrew C. Sparkes
When the business of sharing treatment decisions is not the same as shared decision
making: A discourse analysis of decision sharing in general practice
Maggie Robertson, Jim Moir, John Skelton, Jon Dowell, and Sue Cowan
On the meanings and experiences of living and dying in an Australian hospice
Alex Broom and John Cavenagh
The International Journal of Social Psychiatry also has a recent new issue, featuring articles on culturally based explanations for mental disorder among Singaporean Chinese; the suicide of farmers in India; the determinants of psychological distress among migrants; the psychosocial impact of obsessive-compulsive disorder on patients and caregivers as compared to that of depressive disorder; the role of environmental influences on hospitalizations of people with schizophrenia in Israel; the stressors of university life and students’ reactions to them (something many of us can certainly relate to on one level or another!); perceptions of mental illness at a cross-cultural psychiatric clinic; and an examination of the social aspects of “recovery”.
The Journal of Ethnobiology and Ethnomedicine has its usual array of interesting articles—this month examining the—often medicinal—use of plants and agriculture practices and the knowledge created around them.
New articles in the journal Philosophy, Ethics, and Humanities in Medicine provide different perspectives on topics popping up elsewhere this month. Maureen A. O’Malley and Karola Stotz offer an article teasing out “multiple lines of inquiry” of obesity research to “show how they are oriented to obesity intervention through multilevel integrated approaches” (see Health, above, and Social Theory & Health, below, for articles on obesity). Antoine Baumann, Frederique Claudot, Gerard Audibert, Paul-Michel Mertes and Louis Puybasset’s article is entitled “The Ethical and Legal Aspects of Palliative Sedation in Severely Brain Injured Patients: A French Perspective” (see Health, again, for an article on palliative care). “Defining Mental Disorder: Exploring the ‘Natural Function’ Approach” by Somogy Varga explores “natural function objectivism” as an approach that seeks to “reach a value-free definition of mental disorder”. Finally, Damiaan Denys’ article “Obsessionality & Compulsivity: A Phenomenology of Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder” seeks to “offer an alternative view to the current definition of obsessive-compulsive disorder from a phenomenological perspective” (see the International Journal of Social Psychiatry, above, for additional articles on defining mental disorder, and obsessive-compulsive disorder).
Psychosomatic Medicine has January and February/March issues full of interesting articles, including several on gene-environment interactions, sociality and illness, and the physiological effects of emotion. They also have provided a written summary of them (here and here, respectively) that beats anything I could produce in this short write-up.
Several bi-weekly issues of Social Science & Medicine have appeared since the last posting. Their contents can be found here. Some articles that immediately caught my eye, though, are:
What Does an E-mail Address Add? – Doing Health and Technology at Home
Hege K. Andreassen
Translational Science and the Hiddern Research System in Universities and Academic Hospitals: A Case Study
Bryn Lander and Janet Atkinson-Grosjean
The “Biosecuritization of Healthcare Delivery: Examples of post-9/11 Technological Imperatives
Jill A Fisher and Torin Monahan
From Volume 72, Issue 3 – The 13th Interactional Medical Geography Symposium
“Vulnerability is Universal”: Considering the Place of “Security” and “Vulnerability” within Contemporary Global Health Discourse
Telecare and Older People: Who Cares Where?
Christine Milligan, Celia Roberts, and Maggie Mort
Young People Living with Parental Bereavement: Insights from an Ethnographic Study of a UK Childhood Bereavement Service
Joanne D. Brewer and Andrew C. Sparkes
The journal Social Studies of Science has a new issue this February. In it, Joan H. Fujimura and Ramya Rajagopalan discuss race, ethnicity and “genetic ancestry” in genetic research in their article, “Different Differences: The Use of ‘Genetic Ancestry’ versus Race in Biomedical Human Genetic Research”. Aaron Panofsky examines in his article “Generating Sociability to Drive Science: Patient Advocacy Organizations and Genetics Research”, how strategies of what he calls “sociability” enable patient advocacy organizations to “drive research to their concerns”. Transgenic cows—or more specifically, a program of research intending to produce them—are the object of Brian P Bloomfield and Bill Doolin’s “Imagination and Technoscientific Innovations: Governance of Transgenic Cows in New Zealand”. Maria Puig de la Bellacasa turns her sights to STS itself in her “Matters of Care in Technoscience: Assembling Neglected Things”, in which she “aims to encourage an ethos of care in the study of science and technology”. In “The Dynamics of Coordinated Comparisons: How Simulationists in Astrophysics, Oceanography and Meteorology Create Standards for Results”, Mikaela Sundberg looks at ‘intercomparison projects’, “a type of collaborative project that takes place in a number of simulation-based research areas such as astrophysics and climate modelling”. Finally, Gary Edmond offers a review essay entitled “The Building Blocks of Forensic Science and Law: Recent Work on DNA Profiling (and Photo Comparison)”.
The current issue of Social Theory & Health contains articles on the complexity of negotiating genetic risk and knowledge; the governance of obesity; the “incalculable nature of chronic disease risk”; the role of bioagency in psychosocial health inequalities; gendered health reporting among older adults; and Danish health promotion policies.
The February issue of Sociology of Health & Illness is a special issue: “Body Work in Health and Social Care: Critical Themes, New Agendas”. As Julia Twigg, Carol Wolkowitz, Rachel Lara Cohen, and Sarah Nettleton write in their introduction:
Body work is work that focuses directly on the bodies of others: assessing, diagnosing, handling, treating, manipulating, and monitoring bodies, that thus become the object of the worker’s labour. It is a component part of a wide range of occupations. It is a central part of healthcare, through the work of doctors, nurses, dentists, hygienists, paramedics and physiotherapists. It is a fundamental part of social care, particularly for older people in the form of personal care and the work of care assistants. Body work is also a central theme in alternative medicine. It is at the heart of the body pleasing, body pampering trades such as hairdressing, beauty work, massage, and tattooing, and it extends to other, more stigmatised occupations, such as sex workers and undertakers. The contexts within which these practitioners operate, the knowledge systems they draw on, and the status hierarchies in which they are embedded, vary greatly; however, as we have argued elsewhere, there are certain commonalities that can be traced across these contexts that make the concept of body work sociologically useful.
This special issue of Sociology of Health and Illness explores the relevance of the concept of body work for the field of health and social care. The Call for Abstracts followed from a research seminar series organised by the authors in 2007–9 entitled ‘Body Work: Critical Issues, Future Agendas’ funded by the UK Economic and Social Research Council. The seminars were not confined to the field of health and social care, but brought together social scientists interested in exploring the social relations of body work across a range of occupations that focus on the human body, many of which are far from the conventional areas of health or social care. The series demonstrated how a concept of body work is useful for exploring commonalities and differences in workers’ dilemmas and strategies in what are otherwise widely disparate occupations, in ways that highlight, rather than ignore, the particularities of their work. The concept also provided a vehicle for the collaboration of researchers associated with different specialisms, not only those concerned with health and social care, but also scholars of work and employment, gender, ethnicity and migration, and social policy and sociology. The crossovers and commonalities between these fields were among the most fruitful aspects of the seminars. It is very much in the spirit of these wider collaborations that we approach this special issue on body work in health and social care. Indeed, one of the gains of the concept for health and social care is its capacity to link these subjects with wider social structures and discourses.
That’s all for this month. But we’ll have next month’s post coming right on the heels of this one, so check back soon…. Until then, enjoy reading!