'We Are the Losers of Socialism!'

Tuberculosis, the Limits of Bio-citizenship and the Future of Care in Romania

in Anthropological Journal of European Cultures
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Mircea stares off The Pines Tuberculosis Sanatorium balcony. He tells me that in the valley below he once had a family and worked as a miner and then at a collective farm. Now he is alone and unwanted. His blue eyes well up with tears and he tells me, ‘we are the losers of socialism, there is no hope for us’. He continues: ‘We are losers in society, and when you see yourself, the way you are now, and you know what you used to be, when you mattered, and worked … it’s hard for you. This is why we say we are embarrassed, because you don’t matter anymore, to anybody.’ 55-year-old Mircea spent the last four years of his life here, abandoned by his family, dying of XDR-TB.1 When I asked his doctor when he would go home, she replied, ‘Home? To what? ... He is a social case,2 I cannot discharge him.’