In the Journals

April In the Journals… (1/2)

With daylight saving time come new articles this April!

The current issue of Medical Anthropology explores concepts of healing in diverse contexts. James B. Waldram opens the discussion with his investigation into the notion of efficacy within indigenous healing practices in Belize and Canada. He offers two approaches to define efficacy, each focussed on a different outcome: transformation and restoration.

Tsipy Ivry coins the term “kosher medicine” for the interaction between Israeli biomedicine and religion in the context of hormonal infertility treatment. She argues that collaboration in healing between medical doctors and rabbis only works as long as medical doctors do not display knowledge in rabbinic law nor challenge the rabbinic directives.

HIV/AIDS in displacement camps in Northern Uganda is associated with a diverse range of meanings, drawing from militarism, Christian missions, camp life to humanitarianism, argues Matthew Wilhelm Solomon. His fieldwork suggests that people with HIV/AIDS create new health identities at the intersections of being labeled and operating within biosocial and therapeutic spheres.

In Southern Ghana, healing is a pluralistic endeavour, write Kate R. Hampshire and Samuel Asiedu Owusu. The authors portray four healers, who “selectively adapt, adopt, and modify elements of biomedical, ‘local,’ and ‘exotic’ healing practices”. Thus, traditional healing is infused by modern technologies to increase reach and access to a growing healing market.

Finally, Tine Tjørnhøj-Thomsen and Helle Ploug Hansen describe a Danish cancer rehabilitation program through the study of ritualization.

Among the latest articles in Philosophy, Ethics and Humanities in Medicine is a commentary on physicians and the death penalty in the United States, by Joel B Zivot. The commentary is intriguing as Zivot describes physician involvement in the death penalty as a Catch-22: “If, according to the United States Supreme Court, the death penalty is not cruel per se, it needs no improvement. If the death penalty is cruel, then attempts to reduce cruelty by pharmacological adjustments are not necessarily humane, or worse, create an illusion of humanness as they are physician directed.”  I’d be interested in readers’ comments on this stance: the article itself does not have any comments yet.

Micol Ascoli and colleagues evaluate their Cultural Consultation Services project in mental healthcare in East London. The resulting narratives of cultures of care among health and social work professionals show that during the workday, professionals do not consider cultural influences on patient recovery and instead focus on organisational proficiency.


The April issue of the Journal of the History of Medicine and Allied Sciences includes four research articles discussing topics spanning from 1558 to the 1970s. In “Sex and the Capital City: The Political Framing of Syphilis and Prostitution in Early Republican Ankara,” Emine Ö. Evered and Kyle T. Evered argue that in the early Turkish Republic, public health professonials combined the fight against syphilis with policing of what they deemed inappropriate sexual practices and relations.

Andrew T. Simpson describes the establishment of modern paramedics and ambulance services in the United States in the 1960s and 1970s, and Stephen Woolworth examines the history of the Seattle school clinic (1914–21), a full-service medical program for poor and working class children.

I’d like to point out two open access articles in Social History of Medicine. The first one is by Roberta Bivins, arguing for a looking through a postcolonial lense at the investigation of post-war migration to Britain from (former) colonies.

The second open access article discusses the case of a disabled poor person starving in a workhouse in 1877 despite being “cared” for. Kim Price sees this man’s case as an example for systemic problems in the UK with workhouse care and contrasts it with community care during the Victorian period.


On the Social Science and Medicine website, you can already access articles in press or scheduled to be published up to June 2013. There you’ll find a plethora of articles. Some choices:

‘We view that as contraceptive failure’: Containing the ‘multiplicity’ of contraception and abortion within Scottish reproductive healthcare ” by Siân M. Beynon-Jones.

Metaphors and myths in pharmaceutical advertising” by Marjorie Delbaere.

Addressing the unequal geographic distribution of specialist doctors in Indonesia: The role of the private sector and effectiveness of current regulations” by Andreasta Meliala et al.

An impact evaluation of the Safe Motherhood Promotion Project in Bangladesh: Evidence from Japanese aid-funded technical cooperation” by Yusuke Kamiya and colleagues.

Suicide in rural Haiti: Clinical and community perceptions of prevalence, etiology, and prevention” by Ashley K. Hagaman et al.


In the April issue of Social Studies of Science, Christopher J. Lawless discusses disputes around ‘low-template DNA’ methods, forms of forensic DNA profiling technologies; and Joanna Radin describes a case study of the International Biological Program in the United States in the 1960s and 1970s, arguing that “new access to technologies of cold storage, which would allow blood to be transported from the field to the lab and be stored for subsequent reanalysis, gave shape to this episode in Cold War human biology.”

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