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Medical Anthropology

Sarah A Smith
When a new biomedical hospital was built in Chuuk, women were encouraged to forgo home births and seek obstetric care. Chuuk's infrastructure deteriorated over time, however, and the hospital became known as the place of death. Women maintained faith in obstetric technology despite these conditions; they simply sought better technology in Guam or a US state. Yet, even upon migrating, women continued to suffer disproportionately poor birth outcomes. In this article, I explore how Chuukese women maintained faith in obstetric technology, elucidating the power of the "obstetric imaginary" in the context of neocolonial development, migration, and stratified reproduction...
March 18, 2019: Medical Anthropology
Lea Taragin-Zeller
Drawing on an ethnographic study of reproduction in Israel, in this article I demonstrate how Orthodox Jews delineate borders between the godly and the human in their daily reproductive practices. Exploring the multiple ways access to technology affects religious belief and observance, I describe three approaches to marital birth control, two of which are antithetical: steadfast resistance to and general acceptance of "calculated family planning." Seeking a middle road, the third model, "flexible decision-making," reveals how couples push off and welcome pregnancies simultaneously...
February 26, 2019: Medical Anthropology
Hanneke Pot
Adolescent girls are at the center of many health development interventions. Based on ethnographic research in rural Malawi, I analyze the design, implementation, and reception of an international non-government organization's project aiming to reduce teenage pregnancies by keeping girls in school. Drawing on Fassin's theorization of culturalism as ideology, I analyze how a tendency to overemphasize culture is inherent to the project's behavior change approach, but is reinforced locally by class-shaped notions of development, and plays out through reinforcing ethnic stereotypes...
February 22, 2019: Medical Anthropology
Rebecca Campbell-Montalvo, Heide Castañeda
Structural vulnerability illuminates how social positionings shape outcomes for marginalized individuals, like migrant farmworkers, who are often Latino, indigenous, and/or undocumented. Furthering scholarship on negotiating constraints, we explore how school employees (here, Migrant Advocates) broker health care access for migrant farmworker families. Ethnographic research in central Florida showed that Advocates perform similar functions as community health workers while experiencing similar dilemmas. We propose combining medical anthropological insights with the CDC's Whole School, Whole Community, Whole Child model, conceptualizing schools as an important site for families' wellbeing, recognizing brokerage roles of staff, and offering new directions for migrant health scholars...
February 8, 2019: Medical Anthropology
Daisy Deomampo
What is the relationship between race and value in human egg donation? Drawing on ethnographic and textual sources, I explore the construction of race and the commodification of eggs in human egg donation, in order to show the intersections of race and market value in the fertility industry. Focusing on egg donation among Asian Americans - which is the fastest-growing minority group in the United States and has high rates of assisted reproductive technology usage - I argue that actors involved in egg donation construct race along a spectrum, mobilizing race in diverse ways with respect to particular desires for family formation...
February 7, 2019: Medical Anthropology
Giulia Zanini
While religion is part of the modernities of assisted reproductive technologies (ART), this has mainly been investigated in non-Western or non-Christian contexts. In this article, I argue that in contemporary Italy, Catholicism affects not only law- and policymaking processes but also (prospective) parents' experiences of ART and donor conception in contradictory and unexpected ways. Officially, the Roman Church strongly opposes ART, but Catholic principles, affiliations, and rituals are mobilized in ways that contribute to legitimizing and making sense of ART as a means to create kinship and reproduce Italian national identity...
February 6, 2019: Medical Anthropology
Narelle Warren, Dikaios Sakellariou
Caring for a family member or friend with a serious health condition is a common feature of social life. Often, such care is framed as a burden, an unwelcome rupture in the fabric of everyday life. We draw on research conducted in Australia and the UK to examine care in the everyday lives of people living with and caring for neurodegenerative diseases and to trouble care as a burden. Participants in our studies mobilized practices of care to collaboratively produce a "good life". We argue that above all, care is a relational, enacted practice requiring examination in its local context...
February 1, 2019: Medical Anthropology
Lucia Guerra-Reyes
The rights to health and to culturally respectful care are inextricably linked in the documents supporting Peruvian Maternal Health Policy. Strategies of Intercultural Birthing and Maternal Waiting Houses were purported to reduce maternal deaths, while extending the right to health to marginalized indigenous women. Based on 17 months of field research in Peru, I argue that the narrow focus on achieving "good numbers" creates and sustains coercive modes of strategy applications. As a result, the on-the-ground implementation of these innovative strategies made them incompatible with right to health and culturally respectful care approaches...
January 18, 2019: Medical Anthropology
Allison Odger, Susan Frohlick, Robert Lorway
Drawing upon ethnographic research in Winnipeg, Manitoba, we complicate simplistic epidemiological and sexual health discourses that position African newcomer teen girls and young women as "at-risk" for HIV/AIDS and other consequences of being sexually active. By tracing the trajectories of sexual health messages and utilizing the concept of assemblage, we seek to account for the ways in which risk is actively made and negotiated in practice by African newcomer youth. By highlighting the perspectives and experiences of participants in relationship to Canadian literature on the subject of sexual risk, culture, and education, we work to counter essentializing, racializing, and pathologizing discourses...
January 11, 2019: Medical Anthropology
Mounia El Kotni, Elyse Ona Singer
No abstract text is available yet for this article.
February 2019: Medical Anthropology
Lynn M Morgan
No abstract text is available yet for this article.
February 2019: Medical Anthropology
Céline Coderey
The institutionalization of indigenous medicine in contemporary Myanmar (Burma) placed alchemy at the margins of the formal health system. The practice, however, remains very much alive. Here, I explore the resilience of alchemic medicine by unraveling the relationship between this practice and the social space within which it operates. I show that the negotiation of a space for resilience comes from the gray areas created by the weak regulatory system of the medical sector and the gap left by biomedicine. I demonstrate that the marginalization of alchemic practice has come to invest it with new political meanings that help its practitioners navigate that hostile space...
December 17, 2018: Medical Anthropology
Amy E Snively-Martinez
Widespread use of antibiotics is of concern due to the selection for resistant bacterial strains, which render life-saving antimicrobials ineffective. Smallholders in rural Guatemala rely on human antibiotics to treat their poultry, and in this article, I aim to understand why they do so. I incorporate Ethnographic Decision Modeling (EDM) to understand treatment behaviors. Results indicate that access and affordability in opportunity costs are barriers to seeking veterinary medicines for poultry. Access to veterinary medicine and education campaigns on poultry health are necessary to support the appropriate use of antimicrobials for backyard poultry...
December 11, 2018: Medical Anthropology
Dána-Ain Davis
In this article, I analyze the birth stories of Black women living in the United States. Their birth stories describe various forms of racism during medical encounters while they were pregnant or during labor and delivery. In the global women's health arena, the issues raised are viewed as obstetric violence. However, obstetric racism-as both an occurrence and analytic-best captures the particularities of Black women's reproductive care during the pre- and post-natal period. Obstetric racism is a threat to positive birth outcomes...
December 6, 2018: Medical Anthropology
Mette Toft Rønberg
Based on fieldwork among adults suffering from depression in Denmark, I explore depression as an out-of-tune embodiment, characterized by disturbances of bodily experiences and loss of bodily resonance. I depict my informants' efforts to attune to the rhythm of the everyday through different kinds of body work. This perspective calls for an acknowledgement of the resonant body, and provides a non-reductionist portrayal of depression that differs from the dominant understanding of depression as an individual (brain) disorder...
December 4, 2018: Medical Anthropology
Tanja Ahlin
In the context of transnational family life, everyday information and communication technologies (ICTs) are key members of transnational care collectives. Through the approach of material semiotics to care as a relational practice between people and nonhuman entities, I explore frequent calling as one aspect of these collectives. I analyze the practice of frequent calling on phone and webcam between elderly parents living in Kerala, South India, and their adult children who work abroad as nurses. When family members are scattered around the world, frequent calling becomes a way to enact "good care" at a distance...
November 28, 2018: Medical Anthropology
Jennifer J Carroll
In 2014, Russian authorities in occupied Crimea shut down all medication-assisted treatment (MAT) programs for patients with opioid use disorder. These closures dramatically enacted a new political order. As the sovereign occupiers in Crimea advanced new constellations of citizenship and statehood, so the very concept of "right to health" was re-tooled. Social imaginations of drug use helped single out MAT patients as a population whose "right to health," protected by the state, would be artificially restricted...
November 27, 2018: Medical Anthropology
Anne E Pfister
In this article, I trace the most salient features of Mexican families' complex journeys as they coped with the "predicament" of childhood deafness. Framing support seeking through the theoretical lens of pilgrimage brings into focus family introspection and captures their tenacity while facing culture-specific obstacles. Ultimately, families realized their quests were not about "fixing" their children's hearing, but finding more reliable communication in sign language. Pilgrimage, as a metaphor for the journeys described by participants, helps us understand families' realizations that the biomedical options most commonly available in Mexico City were of limited efficacy, and reveals collective desire for alternatives to these options...
November 23, 2018: Medical Anthropology
Mounia El Kotni
The institutionalization of Mexican midwifery has a long history. Despite global recommendations moving away from training traditional midwives, training courses still continue. Based on fieldwork in the State of Chiapas, I argue that while ongoing trainings offered to traditional midwives in Mexico aim at teaching them best practices, they also limit midwives' autonomy and keep poor women's reproductive behaviors under control. I demonstrate how midwives and medical personnel mobilize discourses of reproductive risk, women's rights and indigenous cultural rights to reinforce or contest mechanisms of reproductive governance...
November 21, 2018: Medical Anthropology
Elly Teman
Analyzing interviews with 20 Jewish-Israeli gestational surrogates who gave birth in 2014-2016, I examine the common narrative structure of their personal stories and the way that this becomes what Adichie calls a "single story". This idealized, romanticized, utopian story includes: 1. an intimate bond between surrogate and intended parents; 2. an epic birth; 3. a happy ending, told publicly. After illustrating this structure, I present the consequences of this single story for surrogates whose experiences diverged from, yet were constantly compared to, the "perfect journey" narrative...
November 20, 2018: Medical Anthropology
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