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Care in the middle voice

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When thinking about care, it is easy to assume an asymmetrical structure with two fixed two roles: the care-giver and the cared-for. It is likewise easy to assume that the former is active while the latter is passive (cf. Borneman 1997). In attending to the lives and worlds of Ugandans with cognitive disabilities, however, I learned that there is more …

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Lifetimes

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“It’s only Veria who can bathe our old mama,” remarked mama’s daughter-in-law with gentle amusement. “Because Veria is blind. You know how modest mama is. She doesn’t want anyone to see her private parts.” Veria’s devoted care for her mother extends far beyond bathing. Recently she decided that those who stay with mama were neglecting her. She collected the old …

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Exploring anthropologies of medicine and health across borders at 4S 2018

This year’s annual meeting for the Society for Social Studies of Science (4S) had an intriguing new component: an exhibition on the histories of STS in flux internationally, befitting the theme of transnational STS around which the conference was developed. The exhibition represents the various turns and epistemological orientations towards the critical studies of science and technology in locations decidedly

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Fed up security officers and drunk policemen in Nairobi

Greenwoods is a neighbourhood in Nairobi, Kenya, dotted with diplomatic residences. At the time of my research on public-private assemblages of security provision and the reconfiguration of citizenship in Nairobi, Greenwoods’ residents association was sponsoring a security partnership between the state police and a private security company, Maximum Security.[1] The night patrol team of Maximum Security regularly hosted two …

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Africa and the Epidemiological Imagination

In early September we hosted a workshop on Africa and the Epidemiological Imagination at University College London’s Institute of Advanced Studies’ Common Ground. The workshop was sponsored by the Wellcome Trust as part of a Senior Investigator award held by Professor Megan Vaughan on Critical Histories of Chronic Disease in Africa. We wanted to explore how the concept “transition” articulates …

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Thinking with spirits

During my first visit to Ghana in 1998, I was involved in a research project that looked at possible co-operations between healers and psychiatric clinics. I stayed in the healing camp of Prophet Abbam II, who was known in the area to heal patients with mental health problems. My presence at his healing church attracted many visitors, who kindly brought …