In the Journals

In the Journals…

American Ethnologist
This issue features an article by Kabir Tambar who analyzes the cultivation of devotional emotion and moral experience among members of a Muslim community in Turkey (485). There are also book reviews of When Experiments Travel: Clinical Trials and the Global Search for Human Subjects by Adriana Petryna, Suffering and Sentiment: Exploring the Vicissitudes of Experience and Pain in Yap by C. Jason Throop, Life Histories of the Dobe !Kung: Food, Fatness, and Well-Being over the Life-Span by Nancy Howell, and Death in a Church of Life: Moral Passion during Botswana’s Time of AIDS by Frederick Klaits.

Cultural Anthropology
Mette Svendsen analyzes how scientists and couples seeking in-vitro fertilization articulate the potentiality of embryos to be donated for stem cell research. In doing so, she argues, “in the fertility clinic, the embryo suggested for donation to human embryonic stem cell research is defined as waste that cannot be used and therefore is suggested to be put in the bin…,” yet, “the embryo suggested for donation is not completely blank: traces remain of the embryo’s former identity as a possible biographical life related to its ‘parents.'” Also, in “The past is made by walking: Labor activism and historical production in postcolonial Guadeloupe,” Yarimar Bonilla explores the somatic and affective experiences of labor activists and their families who engage in “memory walks” in Guadeloupe.

Social Science and Medicine
– Grace Lordan, Kam Ki Tang, and Fabrizio Carmignani ask the pressing question, “Has HIV/AIDs displaced other health funding priorities?” Short answer: Yes. They found that funding for HIV/AIDS has displaced development assistance for both health sector reforms and malaria; “In particular, the displacement effect for malaria is large and worrying.”
An historical analysis of life expectancy in the United States and Western Europe concludes that differences in available health care account for differences in life expectancy rates and suggest that bringing Americans’ health status in line with that of Western Europe’s would save over $1.1 trillion in health spending in the U.S. between 2004 and 2050.
– In
Too much of that stuff can’t be good”: Canadian teens, morality, and fast food consumption,” Deborah McPhail, Gwen Chapman, and Brenda Beagan challenge popular assumptions that obesity in North America is due in large part to the prevalence of fast food restaurants in poor and working class urban areas. They found that Canadian teenagers of all social classes, in both rural and urban settings, avoided fast food for health reasons and made moral judgments about eating fast food. They go on to argue, “Fast food avoidance was an important facet through which teens make themselves as “moral subjects” through healthy eating.”
A study of community members’ views about the causes of HIV/AIDS in Botswana, Malawi, and Mozambique found that people overwhelmingly identified structural factors as the root causes of teenage girls’ vulnerability to HIV/AIDS and called for structural interventions to stem the epidemic.
– In “They don’t want our blood: Social inclusion and blood donation among African migrants in Australia,” Michael Jay Polonsky, Bianca Brijnath, and André Renzaho analyze African migrants’ struggles with discrimination and exclusion and suggest possibilities for migrants’ social inclusion through changed blood donation policies.
– A research team studying teenagers in the U.S. found that “Adolescents expectations for the future predict health behaviors in early adulthood.”
– S. Heidi Ullmann, Noreen Goldman, Douglas S. Massey compared the health of returned migrants in Mexico to Mexican migrants who stayed in the United States.
A study of UN member states’ narrative progress reports on HIV/AIDS revealed worrying shortcomings in some countries’ approaches to men who have sex with men and people who inject drugs that highlights differences between “universal” human rights and “local” cultures (467).

Social Studies of Science
The latest issue features articles on new forms of cancer clinical trials “in the era of genomic signatures,” historical approaches to cervical cancer screenings in Brazil, and “scientific debates over choice-making in the human brain.” In this last article, titled “The shortsighted brain: Neuroeconomics and the governance of choice in time,” anthropologists Natasha Schüll and Caitlin Zaloom “explore how the brain and its treatment of the future become the contested terrain for distinct visions of governmental intervention into problems of human choice-making.”

Social Theory and Health
In “Biopower at the molar level: Liberal government and the invigoration of Danish society,” Martin Frandsen and Peter Triantafillou complicate social scientists’ claims of a massive shift toward individualization (or molecularization) in contemporary biomedicine, arguing that in a place like Denmark, concerns with the geneticization of life are not as central as are “older” governmental interventions into health that occur at the level of society and population, i.e., the ‘molar’ level. And Selina Gallo-Cruz and Markella Rutherford explore how midwives portray their skills and services to potential clients, working with particular understandings of care, space, and emotions in discussions about their professional legitimacy and the ideal birth experience. Sarah Grineski analyzes why parents in El Paso and Juarez cross into Mexico and the United States, respectively, in seeking medical care for children with asthma.

Sociology of Health and Illness
Simon Williams, Paul Martin, and Jonathan Gabe present “a critical analysis of the nature and status of pharmaceuticalisation” in “The pharmaceuticalisation of society? A framework for analysis.” In a related piece, Courtney Davis and John Abraham show how the acceleration of cancer drug approval in the U.S. is the result of increased pressure by the pharmaceutical industry rather than the result of patient activism. Other articles focus on negotiating the moral legitimacy of sick leave, and the sociology of tissue donation. There are also a number of book reviews, including a review of Margaret Lock and Vihn-Kim Nguyen’s book, An Anthropology of Biomedicine.

Journal of Ethnobiology and Ethnomedicine
Current articles in this open access journal include a comparison of medicinal plants used in veterinary medicine and human medicine in the Sierras de Cordoba in Argentina, and a review of ethnozoology, the study of human-animal relations in environmental and cultural context, in Brazil.

Anthropology and Medicine
A special issue on Shrines, substances and medicine in sub-Saharan Africa: archaeological, anthropological, and historical perspectives, features contributions on the relationship between local geographies and notions of anatomy in Hausaland, the role of speech in therapeutic practices in Madagascar, and the historical meanings of shrines in Afro-Brazilian Candomblé.

Social History of Medicine
Finally, the journal Social History of Medicine is full of fascinating articles this month, including a special section on the history of nursing (featuring seven research articles), and articles on vampirism as psychiatric disorder, the historical transformation of hypochondriasis in Great Britain, diagnoses of lunacy among indigenous people in Western Australia, and the medicalization of childbirth in Edinburgh. There are also a large number of book reviews, including reviews of Lynn Morgan’s Icons of Life: A Cultural history of human embryos and a patient-centered history of children growing up in a Welsh tuberculosis sanitorium during the early 20th century.


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In the Journals

In the journals…

American Ethnologist features an article by Chantal Collard and Shireen Kashmeri, which examines how the practice of embryo adoption spurs new models of siblingship that the authors call: genetic, batch, gestational, and delayed siblingship. This issue also features book reviews of Tsipy Ivry’s “Embodying Culture: Pregnancy in Japan and Israel,” and of Marina de Regt’s “Pioneers or Pawns? Women Health Workers and the Politics of Development in Yemen.”
In Cultural Anthropology, Tom Boellstorff poses the question: “How can a cultural phenomena whose temporality appears suspect…help us reconsider the historicity of culture itself?” (p. 287) To address this question, he examines the category of “men who have sex with men but do not identify as gay” (abbreviated as MSM) – a category that is playing a key role in global HIV/AIDS discourses and in debates about self, community, health, and justice. Using a genealogical approach, Boellstorff examines three changes in this category and their cultural implications.

There is special April issue of Transcultural Psychiatry entitled “The Personal and the Professional: The Lives and Careers of Cultural Psychiatrists,” edited by Ronald Wintrob. It includes articles about the career of cultural psychiatry, and about the intersection of culture and psychiatric research/practice more broadly.

A special issue of Science, Technology, and Human Values explores “post-normal science” (PNS) – a term used in research on the “scientific, social, and political management of risk.” The articles explore the history, definitions, theoretical and empirical aspects, current uses, and critiques of PNS to contribute to work on this topic within science and technology studies and several other disciplines.

An open access article by Gerben Meynen in Philosophy, Ethics, and Humanities in Medicine develops a phenomenological account to show that worrying (a central feature of generalized anxiety disorder, or GAD) is not a helpful coping strategy and proposes cognitive behavioral therapy as a successful GAD treatment.
The “online first” section of Health contains three articles.
  • Drew Thomas Halfmann reconceptualizes “medicalization,” taking into account its multiple aspects (i.e. discourses, practices, and identities) and multiple levels (i.e. macro, meso, and micro), as well as its interrelation with demedicalization. He then applies this new conceptualization to an analysis of two events in U.S. abortion history.
  • In the context of people’s increased reliance on the internet for health information and increased engagement with medical pluralism, Yael Keshet examines and compares how complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) is presented on the websites of several Israeli medical institutions.
  • Anette Lykke Hindhede explores how adults cope with the diagnosis of hearing impairment, which can destabilize social interactions, sense of self, and bodily functionality.
Other relevant articles:

This issue of Social Theory & Health contains two interesting articles that take up the issue of “capital” with respect to health/healthcare. One article reviews the concept of social capital in health research and redefines it, bridging its individual and collective facets. The other article examines how a kind of “personal capital” develops in the context of parents caring for their children with Batten disease. Another article draws on science and technology studies to examine “scientific certainty” in relation to how and why professionals resist evidence of the adverse health outcomes of caesarean sections as they prioritize “maternal choice.”

Two more articles:
  • “The concept of lifeworld as a tool in analysing health-care work: Exploring professionals’ resistance to governance through subjectivity, norms and experiential knowledge” (Patrick Brown)
  • “A critical review of theoretical frameworks for health service use among older immigrants in the United States” (Sunha Choi)
There are also several relevant book reviews, including reviews of “The Taste for Knowledge: Medical Anthropology Facing Medical Realities” (edited by Sylvie Fainzang, Hans Einar Hem, and Mette Bech Risor) and “Technogenarians: Studying Health and Illness Through an Ageing, Science, and Technology Lens” (edited by Kelly Joyce and Meika Loe).

Journal of Psychosomatic Medicine
Two articles concern the effects of the serotonin system on cardiovascular reactivity to social threat and to stress. Two articles examine aspects of depression: “Plasma Nitrate Levels and Flow-Mediated Vasodilation in Untreated Major Depression” (Garcia, Zarruk, Barrera, et.al.); “Cardiac Vagal Control in Nonmedicated Depressed Women and Nondepressed Controls: Impact of Depression Status, Lifetime Trauma History, and Respiratory Factors” (Cyranowski, Hofkens, Swartz, et.al.). Another article (Freedland, Mohr, Davidson, Schwartz) evaluates “the use of existing practice control groups in randomized controlled trials of behavioral interventions and the role of extrinsic health care services in the design and conduct of behavioral trials.”


2 Responses to In the journals…

  1. Thanks for the shoutout to my piece! It was a lot of fun to write and I hope people enjoy it. It's been hard to do my own work while being Editor-in-Chief of American Anthropologist (for 4 years now, with one more year to go!), but I'm glad I was able to write this piece. Thanks again!

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