Lectures

In and outside the nursing home: On the (im)possibilities of meaningful contact while being held apart

This article is part of the series:

Ben (77) wrote this poem when he became unable to visit his wife Lise in the nursing home where she lived, expressing the loss and desperation of suddenly and indefinitely being held apart. As part of the measures taken in the Netherlands to prevent the spread of COVID-19, a visit ban had been imposed on nursing homes. Apart from staff, …

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A Reader’s Guide to the Anthropology of Ethics and Morality – Part III

Editor’s note: We asked several scholars which readings they would recommend to students or colleagues interested in familiarizing themselves with the anthropology of ethics and morality. This is the response we received from Jeannette Pols, Socrates professor ‘Social Theory, Humanism and Materialities’ at the Department of Anthropology, program ‘Health, Care and the Body’, at the University of Amsterdam. 

Empirical

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Refraction of participation

Refraction of participation

What does it mean to participate? What does participation do?[1]

The etymology of ‘participation’ traces from the Latin word participationem, which translates as ‘sharing, partaking, make partaker of’.[2] The word is composed of the Latin pars (a part, piece, division), and the stem capere (to take). To participate is thus to take part.

We …

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Refraction of daily life

Attending to what makes up ‘the everyday’ has long been a challenge for scholars in the social sciences. [1] Researchers from different disciplines and perspectives have explored how mundane things matter, how ‘big issues’ sit in the small. Feminists, for example, have insisted that ‘the personal is political’, to show how patriarchal relationships are founded in the mundane ways of …

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The fool with the watering can, or asynchronous time travelling

One of the most bewildering and fascinating things about spending time with people with dementia is that they can rapidly travel through time. This was most clear with Mrs B., a daydreaming woman of 86. Her skin was deeply wrinkled and in the nursing home she kept pretty much to herself. One day, I had a long, stretched out conversation …

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Refraction of time

On a Thursday evening, five men gather around a dinner table. [1] Their host, a scientist from Surrey, England, has left them a note telling them to begin eating at 19:00 if he is not yet back himself. And so they do. They are in the midst of speculating about their hosts’ whereabouts when the door quietly opens. Their host