In the Journals

In the Journals (1)

In this month’s American Anthropologist, Rozema shows that “the practice of forced disappearance of persons on the part of paramilitary groups has become linked to specific processes of globalization. Global flows related to biopolitics, global crime networks, and dehumanizing imaginations reproduced by mass media together constitute a driving force behind forced disappearances.”

In Culture, Medicine, and Psychiatry, Weiner “explores ethnographically the possibilities for subjectivity and agency that are conditioned or foreclosed by the self-management paradigm, which seems to simultaneously confer and deny rational selfhood to bipolar patients,” through “an examination of clinical literature as well as the practices and narratives of members of a bipolar support group.” With a focus on “the practical politics that enabled the creation of the postpartum depression (PPD) modifier” in DSM-IV, Godderis shows that “psychiatric diagnostic categories are iteratively generated through [knowledge] production and [healthcare] practice, even during the development of those categories.” Brijnath and Manderson offer insights into “how dementia is absorbed and appropriated into Indian cultural contexts,” through “elucidating how the dialectic between biomedical and local knowledge is operationalized” in MRI scanning and dementia diagnosis. Whitley informs us that with the help of a secure and reliable “recovery community,” urban-dwelling people with severe mental illnesses “partake in valiant and durable ‘social resistance’ [against neighborhood crime and violence], and may better be perceived as imaginative and resourceful resistors, rather than passive victims of ‘social defeat’.” Ernst “explores the development of psychiatric institutions within the context of British colonial rule in India.” In contrast to the previous scholarly attention on colonial power and hegemony, the author highlights “the role of international scientific networks and the mental hospital as the locus of care and medicalization.” Engstrom “examines the admissions practices of the German Society for Racial Hygiene between 1905 and 1916.” He shows that the “Society’s admissions procedures were dual-use technologies, at once serving as evidence for both the larger goals of racial science research and the narrower aims of social inclusion/exclusion. But these procedures can also be interpreted as reflexive practices by which members fashioned their sense of racial self and cultivated relations to that self.”

In Medical Anthropology Quarterly, Hughes “draws on data collected through interviews with working-class women seeking reproductive healthcare at clinics in Rabat, Morocco, and with medical providers to challenge the link between Islamic ideology and reproductive practices and the correlation among Islam, poverty, and fertility.” She argues that “patients and providers give new meanings to modern reproductive practices and produce new discourses of reproduction and motherhood that converge popular understandings of Islam with economic conditions of the Moroccan working class.” Bazylevych explores how Ukrainian health care providers bend official immunization policies as they navigate media scares about vaccines, parents’ anxieties, public health officials’ insistence on the need for vaccination, and their own sense of expertise and authority.” She discovers that “[p]ublic health control is reframed in a postsocialist context as a condition of acceptance into the European community as a sanitary democracy, and a contestation point between citizens and state.” Buchbinder “examines an explanation circulating within a U.S. multidisciplinary pediatric pain clinic that links the neurobiology of functional pain disorders to desirable personal attributes such as smartness and creativity.” She terms this explanatory framework “personhood diagnostics,” and argues that “it laid the groundwork for an ethic of clinical care that privileged the patient’s responsibility for treatment.”

The other three articles in MAQ are about childbirth and child rearing: Spangler interrogates “processes of social exclusion that take place on articulating local and global fields of power,” “as they produce and perpetuate embodied inequality at childbirth in the Kilombero Valley of South–Central Tanzania.” Van Hollen “describes how local responses to global health initiatives on infant feeding for HIV-positive mothers reflect and transform sociocultural values in Tamil Nadu, India.” Cheyney examines “the clinical practices engaged in by U.S. homebirth midwives and their clients from the beginning of pregnancy through to the immediate postpartum period, deconstructing them for their symbolic and ritual content.” She discovers that these homebirth practices “are intentionally manipulated rituals of technocratic subversion designed to reinscribe pregnant bodies and to reterritorialize childbirth spaces (home) and authorities (midwives and mothers).”

Among the articles published in Social Science & Medicine, Lazarus and colleagues explore “transitional housing environments of street-based sex workers and role in shaping agency and power in negotiation of sexual risk.” James and colleagues examine the belief in the USA “that cutting on cancer and exposing it to air causes cancer.” They discover that family members have declined surgical intervention because of this fear, and this belief often co-occurs with “perceived inefficacy of cancer treatment.” Robert shows “the amplification effects of violence and violence ‘uncertainty’ on birthweight in structurally disadvantaged communities” in the USA, and “the protective effects (on birthweight) of residing in ‘ethnic enclaves’ for Black and Latino mothers.” Petra studies “sperm donation on a level of intimacy, sexuality and sexual bodies” in the UK. On the one hand, “[m]edical, regulatory and institutional frameworks ‘black-box’ the production of donor sperm in clinics”; on the other hand, the choreographies of lesbian donor conception practices “enable the negotiation of the intimacy and distance, and also the subject-status of the donor.” Gong and colleagues examine “how pre-migration human agency and timing affect post-migration mental health among Asian immigrants in the USA.”

In the Journal of Ethnobiology and Ethnomedicine, Staub and colleagues “document and analyze contemporary ritual plant uses by the Bai people of Shaxi Township” in Southwest China, “including their related ethnobotanical knowledge, practices, and beliefs.” Birhan and colleagues report their cross-sectional study aimed to “assess the contribution of traditional healers’ clinics to public health care system” in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.


3 replies on “In the Journals (1)”

Thanks for the summary. Does anyone else get depressed at the needlessly convoluted language used by anthropologists? Why can’t we communicate more clearly? It pains me to see just how out-of-touch and specialized our discipline has become when I read these posts.

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