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Graphic Medicine and Medical Anthropology

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Introduction

When I began my graphic memoir series, Aliceheimers, it focused just on life with my mother Alice before and during dementia. But the revelatory insight that she has retained, even during the late stages of this sickness, has led me to sometimes let the character “Alice” metamorphose into an odd sort of sage. Here, she and I explore …

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Disability as Diversity: A New Biopolitics

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We’re a medical anthropologist and a literary critic, and while our research interests seemingly have little overlap, we found ourselves engaged in a series of conversations about how the language of diversity shapes representations of disability and reproductive politics, and how this representation stems from the biopolitical management of life in the twenty-first century. In the short essay that follows, …

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Pharmaceutical Prosthesis and White Racial Rescue in the Prescription Opioid “Epidemic”

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Introduction

A U.S. public discourse of addiction as a disabling psychiatric condition (as opposed to a moral flaw or social deviancy) was codified into Social Security policy in 1972, following its emergence in post-war clinical science and popular media (Conrad & Schneider, 1980; Duster, 1970). In recent years, this discourse has taken divergent forms in policy and media debates surrounding …

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Un/Inhabitable Worlds: The Curious Case of Down’s Syndrome

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In her superb exposition of staring, Garland-Thomson (2009) draws attention to Chris Rush’s artistic piece Swim 2 which depicts a woman with Down’s syndrome in a regal pose (figure 1).

Figure 1: ‘Swim 2’ by Chris Rush. All rights reserved.

Figure 1: ‘Swim 2’ by Chris Rush. All rights reserved.

She continues:

The portrait invites us to stare, engrossed perhaps less with the “strangeness” of this woman’s disability and more

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Pixelization in Crip Time: Disability, Online Sociality, and Self-Making in Russian Apartments

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Vakas is a Russian man in his 30s with a traumatic brain injury acquired during childhood. He spends most of his days in his room in his family apartment. Occasionally, he convinces his parents to let him go out. Or, he tricks them and slips away when his mother is at work or his father isn’t paying attention. Vakas is …

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Bomb Ecologies? Inhabiting Disability in Postconflict Laos

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I am an anthropologist researching postwar revival and development in Lao PDR (Laos), the most cluster-bombed country in the world (Branfman 2013). Through fieldwork with development organizations and bomb clearance operators, I examine how ongoing violence, due to explosive remnants of war, is incorporated into peacetime development. Inspired by the theme of this series, Inhabitable Worlds, I take this …