In the Journals

In the Journals, June 2015 — Part II

Starting off the second half of June’s journal roundup, we have some special issues. Two have been highlighted on Somatosphere: BioSocieties, “Alimentary Uncertainties: From Contested Evidence to Policy“; and Culture, Medicine and Psychiatry, “Conceptualizing Autism Around the Globe“. A third, from Medical Humanities on critical medical humanities, also will be posted in the coming days.

Anthropology and Aging Quarterly (Open Access)

Tokens of trauma: The ageing experience of Shoah survivors in a Jewish support centre.
Ben Kasstan

This paper explores the traumatic memories of ageing Shoah survivors who attend a Jewish social and therapeutic support facility in London (UK). The study investigates the perceived differences in trauma within a diverse group of members who partake in the day centre. The difference in Shoah experience contextualises how survivors of ghettos and concentration camps possess a salient relationship with food, notably bread which acts as an enduring symbol of catastrophe for participants. The meanings that underlie death amongst camp survivors are evaluated, where decisions regarding the end of life stage can be interpreted as a shared experience with those who perished during the Shoah. Results exemplify how religious and cultural elements of Judaism mediate the trauma that has become thoroughly embodied for participants. survival is steeped in intersubjective acts of remembrance, offering a novel contribution to the anthropological study of genocide.

Slowing Down Medicine: The Plural Worlds of Hospice Care
Lilly Lerer

This ethnography reflects on a non-profit hospice care organization in the Midwestern US where caregivers “slow down” medical care by acknowledging the plurality of forces that constitute the illness experience, philosophically departing from their biomedical, non-hospice counterparts. It demonstrates the ontological effect of “slowing down” and attending to a set of patient problems that extends beyond the biological, or any distinct, domain. The result is a medical world that privileges the embodied, lived expression of disease—rather than the statistical, clinical expression—resulting in medical care that is enmeshed in the variables of everyday life. I therefore situate hospice care in a historical moment witnessing the emergence of a sophisticated and “non-modern” (Latour 1991) form of medical care.

Frail, Independent, involved? Care and the Category of the Elderly in Japan
Iza Kavedzija

This article examines how the category of the elderly in Japan is constructed through diverse forms of care, understood as moral practices intrinsic to peoples’ senses of self. It offers an analysis of a range of informal as well as institutional configurations of care in the Japanese urban context, highlighting the complexity as well as the overlapping nature of these diverse arrangements. It also explores ethnographically how older people experience these arrangements as they move through different sites of care, and how they negotiate the conflicting demands on their sense of self.  The various types of care at work in these settings all contribute to different understandings of older persons, and different constructions of the category of the elderly: as clients; as visitors or guests; as fragile ‘struggling persons’; as ‘grannies’ in familial relations; as (caring) neighbours. More than a handful of labels, these variable configurations of personal identity affect care practices and social relationships in direct and tangible ways.

Personhood-Based Dementia Care: Using the Familial Caregiver as a Bridging Model for Professional Caregivers
Michael Gabriel Fetterolf

With biomedicine at the forefront of our culture’s understanding of illness, true healing is often neglected. It has become common practice to place elderly persons with Alzheimer’s disease in nursing homes or long-term care facilities that do not always regard the sufferers’ well-being as a top priority. This article draws from familial caregiving roles as a basis for understanding personhood, which I take to be a bridge between the world of a caregiver and the world of an Alzheimer’s sufferer. Furthermore, through the modeling of professional caregiving strategies, I show how one might form meaningful relationships in long-term care facilities, and likewise provide the aging and afflicted person with forms of healing.

Body & Society

Trends in the Turn to Affect: A Social Psychological Critique
Margaret Wetherell

This article explores the psychological logics underpinning key perspectives in the ‘turn to affect’. Research on affect raises questions about the categorization of affective states, affective meaning-making, and the processes involved in the transmission of affect. I argue that current approaches risk depopulating affecting scenes, mystifying affective contagion, and authorizing questionable psychobiological arguments. I engage with the work of Sedgwick and Frank, Thrift, and Ahmed to explore these points and suggest that the concept of affective practice offers a more promising social psychological grounding. Notions of affective practice are more commensurate with trends in contemporary psychobiology, explain the limits on affective contagion, and emphasize relationality and negotiation, attentive to the flow of affecting episodes. A practice approach positions affect as a dynamic process, emergent from a polyphony of intersections and feedbacks, working across body states, registrations and categorizations, entangled with cultural meaning-making, and integrated with material and natural processes, social situations and social relationships.

Affect and the Judicial Assessment of Offenders: Feeling and Judging Remorse
Kate Rossmanith

In most common law jurisdictions worldwide, an offender’s remorse is a mitigating factor in sentencing. It matters whether or not a person who has committed a crime is truly sorry for what they have done. And yet how judges evaluate such expressions is unclear. Drawing on 18 interviews with judges in the New South Wales criminal justice system in Australia, this article examines the status of offenders’ live, sworn evidence in the judiciary’s assessment of offenders’ remorse. These interviews with the judiciary reveal that remorse assessment often operates beyond semiotic, representational paradigms (such as ‘demeanour assessment’) and instead works, in experiential terms, as a feeling. When it comes to offenders getting into the witness box and speaking of their remorse, it seems that sometimes something gets felt by judges at the level of embodied affect that then enables them to declare: ‘This person is remorseful.’

Disability and Deleuze: An Exploration of Becoming and Embodiment in Children’s Everyday Environments
Lindsay Stephens, Susan Ruddick, and Patricia McKeever

Building on Deleuze’s theories of the becoming of bodies, and notions of the geographic maturity of the disabled body we formulate an emplaced model of disability wherein bodies, social expectations and built form intersect in embodied experiences in specific environments to increase or decrease the capacity of disabled children to act in those environments. We join a growing effort to generate a more comprehensive model of disability, which moves beyond a binary between the individual and the social. Drawing on in-depth case studies conducted with 13 physically disabled children, we consider the intersections between their primary environments (homes, schools and neighbourhoods) and the multiple subjectivities they embody. Ultimately we make a case about the importance of responsive, situated models of subjectivity for the development of adaptations, and that physical and social adaptations must respond to these children’s complex and varied needs and desires.

Body Image, Prostheses, Phantom Limbs
Cassandra S. Crawford

The body image with respect to physical disability has long been a woefully under-theorized area of scholarship. The literature that does attend to the body image in cases of physical abnormality or functional impairment regularly offer poorly articulated or problematic definitions of the concept, effectively undermining its historic analytic scope and depth. Here, I revisit the epistemic roots of the body image while also engaging the rich contemporary literature from a body studies perspective in order to situate the narratives of amputees about the relationship between dismemberment, prosthetization, phantom limb syndrome, and body image. Stories about living with artificial, fleshy, phantomed, and residual limbs unquestionably reveal a number of peculiarities unique to amputees. However, they also offer a distinctively productive ingress into the analytic utility of a ‘re-visioned’ conceptualization of the body image more broadly speaking. Indeed, the body image can function as a robust investigative tool for exploring the intersubjective, processual, and relational features of embodiment and corporeality.

Intense Embodiment: Senses of Heat in Women’s Running and Boxing
Jacquelyn Allen-Collinson and Helen Owton

In recent years, calls have been made to address the relative dearth of qualitative sociological investigation into the sensory dimensions of embodiment, including within physical cultures. This article contributes to a small, innovative and developing literature utilizing sociological phenomenology to examine sensuous embodiment. Drawing upon data from three research projects, here we explore some of the ‘sensuousities’ of ‘intense embodiment’ experiences as a distance-running-woman and a boxing-woman, respectively. Our analysis addresses the relatively unexplored haptic senses, particularly the ‘touch’ of heat. Heat has been argued to constitute a specific sensory mode, a trans-boundary sense. Our findings suggest that ‘lived’ heat, in our own physical-cultural experiences, has highly proprioceptive elements and is experienced as both a form of touch and as a distinct perceptual mode, dependent upon context. Our analysis coheres around two key themes that emerged as salient: (1) warming up, and (2) thermoregulation, which in lived experience were encountered as strongly interwoven.

East Asian Science, Technology, & Society

Global Technology and Local Society: Developing a Taiwanese and Korean Bioeconomy through the Vaccine Industry
Tzung-wen Chen

This article discusses approaches to forming a bioeconomy in Korea and Taiwan and presents examples of vaccine industrialization in the context of a dual-structured global vaccine market. The dual structure comprises high-priced vaccines manufactured by large companies that use advanced technology and traditional low-cost vaccines. During the mid-1980s, both Taiwan and Korea engaged in industrializing hepatitis B vaccines, which were among the first high-priced vaccines in the world. However, the countries developed into different market structures during the past quarter century. This study involved analyzing approaches to developing a bio-economy in Korea and Taiwan by using a symmetrical approach that explained both the success and failure of technology in a society. We used networks as constructive elements of the bioeconomy to argue that two heterogeneous networks, production and adoption, were critical for constructing the local vaccine market and industry. Korea and Taiwan are characterized according to two network configurations: regeneration and translation, respectively. In Korea, the production network was formed before the adoption network. The production network regenerates vaccines to influence the adoption network. By contrast, the adoption network translates and defines the production network in Taiwan. It implies that, for vaccine technology learners such as Taiwan and Korea to develop the bioeconomy, a local society of translational or regenerative network configuration is as essential as the developmental state.


Rodologia: Genealogy as Therapy in Post-Soviet Russia
Inna Leykin

The article examines how people in post-Soviet Russia learn to interpret Soviet political genealogies as implicated in their own family histories. Based on long-term fieldwork in a large provincial city in Russia, it focuses on a particular form of amateur genealogy called Rodologia (rodstvo = kinship). Informed by a burgeoning self-help culture, Rodologia’s followers argue that psychological “self-realization” can be achieved by identifying the effects of state violence on family histories. Using a Lamarckian-like idea of heredity, Rodologia argues that social and political upheavals, such as gulags, collectivization, and wars, “scar” people’s genes and shape the behavior, self, and history of their descendants. The article demonstrates how popular attempts to attribute meanings to Soviet state violence are mediated by a surprising alliance of two cultural logics for articulating the self emerging in post-Soviet Russia—a thriving therapeutic “self-help” culture and a form of recollection inspired by genealogical imagination. A flourishing therapeutic culture and amateur genealogy, I show, emerge as a means to both organize one’s relation to the Soviet past and to make sense of fundamental changes occurring in meanings of political order in post-Soviet Russia.

Health, Risk & Society

‘Fuzzy’ virus: indeterminate influenza biology, diagnosis and surveillance in the risk ontologies of the general public in time of pandemics
Davina Lohm, Mark Davis, Paul Flowers, and Niamh Stephenson

Influenza viruses are radically uncertain, leading to scientific and procedural challenges for diagnosis and surveillance and lending influenza symptoms a high degree of indeterminacy. In time of pandemic influenza, however, members of the general public are asked to enact non-pharmaceutical infection control measures such as hygiene and social distancing. Drawing on the concepts of manufactured risk and ontological insecurity, we use data from interviews and focus groups we undertook in 2011 and 2012 in Melbourne, Sydney and Glasgow, to examine how members of the general public understood the ‘fuzzy’ nature of the influenza virus and reconciled this with infection control measures. We found that participants in our research acknowledged: the difficulty of avoiding infection from influenza; impediments to accurate diagnosis and that infection control measures proposed by public health messages were compromised by the ‘fuzzy’ nature of the virus. However, we found that participants valued prevention measures, not necessarily because they were seen to be effective, but because they supplied security in the face of influenza’s uncertainties and the wider proliferation of daily and biographical risks.

Hau  (Open Access)

Anthropology and STS: Generative interfaces, multiple locations
Marisol de la Cadena, Marianne E. Lien, Mario Blaser, Casper Bruun Jensen, Tess Lea, Atsuro Morita, Heather Anne Swanson, Gro B. Ween, Paige West, and Margaret J. Wiener

In this multi-authored essay, nine anthropologists working in different parts of the world take part in a conversation about the interfaces between anthropology and STS (science and technology studies). Through this conversation, multiple interfaces emerge that are heterogeneously composed according to the languages, places, and arguments from where they emerge. The authors explore these multiple interfaces as sites where encounters are also sites of difference—where complex groupings, practices, topics, and analytical grammars overlap, and also exceed each other, composing irregular links in a conversation that produces connections without producing closure.

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