The Intimate Uncertainties of Kidney Care

Moral Economy and Treatment Regimes in Comparative Perspective

in Anthropological Journal of European Cultures
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  • 1 University of Liverpool c.kierans@liverpool.ac.uk
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Today the social and material situations of sick bodies are increasingly and intimately bound up with the variable moral economies of national healthcare systems in uncertain and contrastive ways. I approach these ‘intimate uncertainties’ comparatively and methodologically by drawing on ethnographic fieldwork on transplant medicine in Mexico in order to interrogate European healthcare, specifically the UK. The UK National Health Service is an exemplary site of moral economy, one that the Mexican case appears to stand in stark contrast to. However, as I show, the uncertainties we see at work in Mexico enable us to seek them out in the UK too, particularly those generated at the nexus of the state, failing organs and new strategies for healthcare rationing. The article traces the gendered and socioeconomic inequalities, which follow from these shifts, while offering a critique of analyses that take the European and North American experience as methodologically foundational.

Anthropological Journal of European Cultures

(formerly: Anthropological Yearbook of European Cultures)

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