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Writing Life No. 5: An interview with Robert Desjarlais

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Photo by Robert Desjarlais

“British poet W.H Auden suggested that true poets are those who like ‘hanging around words listening to what they say.”

Desjarlais, 2011, Counterplay: An Anthropologist at the Chess Board,15.

At the Paris Institute of Advanced Studies, where Robert is currently a research fellow, it is 3:30 p.m. We meet online to discuss how to …

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Emergent Anthropology: Reimagining U.S. Medical Anthropology in Theory and Practice

The American Anthropological Association website identifies four subfields of anthropology (archaeology, biological, cultural, linguistic) and reserves a separate section for “applied and practicing anthropology.” In our collective experience, we have found this division between ostensibly “academic” and “applied” anthropology problematic, as it limits the possibilities of a broadly conceptualized and enacted medical anthropology that is more continuous than categorical. We …

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Book forum: Michelle Murphy’s The Economization of Life

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Michelle Murphy’s The Economization of Life (Duke University Press, 2017) received the Ludwik Fleck Prize from the the Society for Social Studies of Science (4S) at the 2019 conference in New Orleans. Murphy’s book, recognized for its novelty, scholarly excellence, and contribution to science and technology studies, was also the subject of a panel of feminist thinkers who offered commentary …

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Interpreting Sexuality: Intellectually Disabled People and “Special” Educators in India

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 “Why does she like putting the glass bottle near her pee-hole? She couldn’t talk and tell us what was going on…what did she exactly want? What was in her mind?… [I]t was very hard to figure that out…but I had to keep working on this because we work with special children and we are special educators.”

Savita, a special educator …

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Intimate connections and singular embodiments: disability in times of the Covid-19 pandemic

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In Brazil, most state governors and city mayors in Brazil have been following the World Health Organization (WHO) guidelines and, in defiance of federal government protocol, have adopted policies of social isolation and distancing. To stay home with our families, going out only when necessary is an effective policy for care and prevention aimed at the “general population.” Still, when …

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Provincializing Metabolism (On the Poverty of Modernism)

According to accepted wisdom and textbooks, “metabolism” is a nineteenth-century term and concept, established at the confluence of organic chemistry, cell biology, and physiology. In Microscopical Researches (1839), Schwann spoke of the “metabolic phenomena of the cells,” using for the first time the adjective metabolische, from which “metabolic” entered the English language in the 1847 translation (Bing 1971). This standard …