Lectures

Clean in Times of Covid-19: on Hygiene and Pollution

This article is part of the series:

As the coronavirus pandemic spreads, air pollution and greenhouse emissions decrease, or so news reports say. The satellite images of China in lockdown provided a first striking example. In response to this, one Dutch newspaper even proclaimed ‘a winner’ in the coronavirus pandemic, namely ‘the environment’. But that is a bit too hasty. Not only are (as environmental experts warn) …

Lectures

A Poetics of Dementia

One rainy morning in November, I called my mother.

“Hi mum, how’re you doing?”
“Well, it isn’t much fun to be sitting here in a chicken run all day long. They’ve even stretched the mesh right along the sideboard.”

I picture my mother, who had been immobile for years, seated in her blue-painted wicker chair next to the window. Within …

Features

Restoring the balance: Living well with pain

Like dementia, persistent pain comes with irreparable losses: physical restrictions, strained relationships, financial problems, perished dreams and ambitions. Both conditions require ethnographers and care professionals to shift focus from cure to care, from treating illnesses to learning how to live with restrictions. The question thus emerges: how do we learn to live with such ‘diseases that do not go away’ …

Features

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 …

Features

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, …

Features

The final station

The sun wakes her up. But Mrs Wijngaard keeps her eyes closed. She is 90 years old and sits quietly in her armchair in her apartment in the nursing home. And lets her thoughts wander. For three months she has been living here now, in an apartment with a living room, one bedroom, private bathroom and a kitchen corner. She …