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Thinking pain

Care worker Annika announces that she does not want to go to Mr Moran. “He always complains.” “I’ll go”, says her colleague Robin, and turning to me he says, “I don’t have the intern today so you can come along if you want to see for yourself how it goes”. We head off to assemble the materials for the morning …

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Taking part in and being part of giving birth: Enacting participation in a midwife-led birth situation

According to her midwife Jana, Mira’s was a textbook birth: it was quite fast, even for a second birth, and proceeded without any complications. In reflecting on her attendance at Mira’s birth, which I had witnessed the day before, Jana emphasised that her task during birth is only to observe: “Observing, keeping an objective view, and recognising what the situation …

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Opening up shrinking life-worlds

Lives change dramatically as dementia progresses. Using observations of people suffering from obsessions and compulsions, I will analyse this change along three dimensions.

Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) is characterised by intrusive anxiety-provoking thoughts (obsessions) and rituals aimed at reducing anxiety, which then paradoxically come to exacerbate it (compulsions). I have been studying clinicians working with people who suffer from a severe, …

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Peripheral participants: Thinking through distortion, displacement, nullification

Warm haze

As I spoke, people looked at me worriedly. The kindness in their eyes was mixed with curiosity and concern. Rather than answering me, they turned to each other to discuss something beyond my grasp. I had aphasia and my incoherent stream of words was puzzling to the people around me. I spoke, I thought, in perfect sentences but …

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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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Refraction of participation

Refraction of participation

What does it mean to participate? What does participation do?[1]

The etymology of ‘participation’ traces from the Latin word participationem, which translates as ‘sharing, partaking, make partaker of’.[2] The word is composed of the Latin pars (a part, piece, division), and the stem capere (to take). To participate is thus to take part.

We …