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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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Disability from the South: Toward a Lexicon

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In this series, we work to broaden the horizons of an emergent anthropology of disability[1] by taking two considerations as the starting point for a conversation. On the one hand, we respond to Jean and John Comaroff’s (2012) provocative call for “theory from the South,” or grounding the location of social theory-making outside dominant Euro-American spaces, assumptions, and priorities. On …

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The Power and Precarity of Global Health Partnerships

A recent issue of Medicine Anthropology Theory devoted to the critique of global health partnerships (GHPs) raises a question of great significance to many Somatosphere readers: ‘In real world partnerships… after proposed innovations are tested, community health workers are trained, or an intervention has been piloted, what happens next?’ (Okeke 2018, 10). All too often, the answer is ‘little if …

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Laboratory capacity building and the open hardware movement

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Through my work in African laboratories I am regularly made aware of the challenging equipment shortages faced by research laboratories in many low/middle-income countries (LMICs). This extends far beyond the absence of “state-of-the-art” equipment and shiny, new models regularly produced by commercial companies. These shortages include the availability of what would normally be considered ubiquitous laboratory equipment – PCR machines, …

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Global Health Diagnostics: Workshop Summary

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On January 17th, 2018, participants from the UK, Europe, and India gathered in Edinburgh for “Investigating Diagnostic Devices in Global Health”, a workshop that also marked the launch of the ERC funded DiaDev project. Hosted by the DiaDev team, Alice Street, Ann Kelly, Nanda Kannuri and Eva Vernooij, the multi-disciplinary workshop …

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The Testing Revolution: Investigating Diagnostic Devices in Global Health

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The origins of laboratory medicine are often traced to the establishment of a small clinical laboratory in Guy’s Hospital, London, in 1828. Here, in a small side-room, medical students used sterilisers, incubators and microscopes to identify bacteriological organisms in biological samples taken from the patients in the ward next door. In this simple removal of bodily fluid from the patient’s …