Lectures

Pains, pleasures, and a new electric wheelchair

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A Wednesday in May 2017, Vienna, Austria

The door opens. Behind it is Frau Schöbel, a tiny woman in her early seventies.[1] Through her glasses, her eyes are piercing. Her lipstick is impeccable and matched to the scarf tied around her neck. 

Frau Schöbel is one of the people I met on the dialysis unit at the City hospital …

Lectures

The ‘chronic’ lives of failing organs: afflictions of ambivalent care in Mexico

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Life has always been difficult, Maria del Rosario told me, but she coped. That was before all the sickness. When her mother’s kidneys began to fail, she felt traumatised, utterly overwhelmed. No matter what she or anyone else did to help, it was no good. Their lives simply fell apart.[i]

Maria, a single mother of two, lived in Balcones …

Lectures

On the Search for the Origins of COVID-19: A Forum

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More than a year into the COVID-19 pandemic, the origin of the virus causing the disease remains uncertain. The predominant theory is that its emergence in human populations was the result of zoonotic transmission, via an as-yet to be determined animal host. A competing (if still marginal) theory holds that a more likely source of the initial outbreak was an …

Lectures

Chronic Experimentation

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The introduction of effective combination antiretroviral therapy for HIV disease in 1996 was commonly narrated as a major event that transformed HIV from an inevitable death sentence into a ‘chronic manageable illness’ – at least for those populations in wealthier countries granted socially and economically affordable access to the new treatments, not to mention the relevant clinical infrastructures to monitor …

Lectures

Chronic caring in unstable landscapes

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The current ‘end of AIDS era,’ referred to as Treat All in policy circles,is characterized by the primary aim of identifying and putting all HIV-positive people on antiretroviral treatment (ART) as quickly as possible following diagnosis (Kenworthy, et al 2017). Under Treat All, life-long pharmaceutical treatment is increasingly initiated in healthy bodies as part of a broad …

Lectures

Chronic living: ethnographic explorations of daily lives swayed by (multiple) medical conditions

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On the 12th of January 2020, the World Health Organization confirmed that the “mystery virus” which, according to reports from China, had infected some 50 people in the city of Wuhan, was not SARS following the genetic sequencing of a “novel coronavirus”. Within two weeks, Wuhan’s hospitals were overwhelmed, and the city was sent into lockdown as health authorities …