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Mater Litigans

Mothering Resistance in Early Eighteenth-Century Rome

Caroline Castiglione

This microhistory analyzes the efforts of a widowed mother, Teresa Boncompagni, to maintain custody of her only daughter, Cornelia. Teresa protested her brother-in-law's legal right to Cornelia's custody. The mother's resistance combined a savvy understanding of the Roman judicial system with an insistence upon the centrality of motherly affection and maternal daily care to the child's well-being. She argued that the concept of free will necessitated a period of childhood exempt from family pressure to marry the man her brother-in-law had chosen. Although Teresa's adversaries pronounced her views outrageous, and maternal affection and advocacy would later be sanitized to include affection but to exclude women's resistance, Teresa's efforts succeeded in convincing even her enemies that a good mother knew how to fight legally and that the emotional bond epitomized by affective mothering was paramount to the healthy development of the child.

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Cementing Relations

The Materiality of Roads and Public Spaces in Provincial Peru

Penelope Harvey

This article sets out to analyze how concrete is implicated in the transformation of public space in provincial Peru. While concrete enhances a state's capacity to produce reliable, predictable structures, there are also significant limits in relation to its connective capacity in both the material and social domains. Ethnographic attention to the relational dynamics of concrete reveals how its promise to operate as a generic, homogeneous, and above all predictable material is constantly challenged by the instability and heterogeneity of the terrains to which it is applied. The image of power that concrete affords is thus a compromised one, as the stability and predictability of this substance is secure only insofar as it is surrounded by and embedded in specific relationships of care.

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Tending to Suspension

Abstraction and Apparatuses of Atmospheric Attunement in Matsutake Worlds

Timothy Choy

Scenes from mushroom technosciences illuminate forms, practices, and temporalities of atmospheric attunement. This article reanimates moments from scientific literature where chemists and mycologists chase elusive smells and spores, explicating how scientists’ experimental apparatuses of attunement arrange conditions for matsutake to be reduced and concentrated toward the goal of sensibility. Reduction and concentration do more than translate atmospheric elusiveness into specification; achieved through grinding, evaporating, and remixing, they condition a ‘tending to suspension’. Tending to suspension amplifies qualities and throws subjects and sensorial attention into the middle of volumes and durations. ‘Tending’ implies care as well as a ‘tending toward’—the sense that something may develop a tendency. Experimental apparatuses of atmospheric attunement, tending to such tendings, model a method for anthropological study of diffuse objects.

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Shahid Najeeb

The central thesis of this article is that psychoanalysis is an organic offshoot of that evolutionary process called religion. As such it has more in common with the world's religions than it would care to admit. Nor would the world's religions feel particularly excited about admitting psychoanalysis in their midst, for its inclusion forces a rethinking of their place in human development. Using Keats's "Ode to a Nightingale," the author looks at the pain of human existence and how it has resulted in the concepts of soul, God, and immortality. The nature of sentience—being aware of one's awareness—is examined. The article asserts that psychoanalysis is the process by which the soul examines itself, thought examines thinking, and life examines its meaning. The author describes religion, soul theory, and psychoanalysis as having evolved naturally and necessarily from human existence and experience, and views them as necessary dimensions of existence.

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The Alimentary Forms of Religious Life

Technologies of the Other, Lenience, and the Ethics of Ethiopian Orthodox Fasting

Diego Malara

Focusing on the practice of fasting, this article traces the ethical efforts and conundrums of Ethiopian Orthodox Christians who take their religion seriously, but do not necessarily see themselves as disciplined believers. I argue that the flexibility and lenience of the Orthodox system allow for morally ambivalent disciplinary projects that, in order to preserve their efficacy, must be sustained by an array of intimate relationships with more pious individuals who are fasting for others or on others’ behalf. By examining this relational economy of spiritual care, its temporalities and divisions of labor, I ask whether recent preoccupations with ‘technologies of the self’ in the anthropology of religion might have overlooked the relevance of ‘technologies of the other’.

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Expert and Lay Knowledge in Pacoima

Public Anthropology and an Essential Tension in Community-based Participatory Action Research

Carl A. Maida

This paper explores the role of 'public anthropology' in the dialogue between practitioners of professional and lay knowledge about urban quality of life. The focus is on community building in Pacoima, a working-class Latino community in Los Angeles, and explores how professionals and residents established an arena and moved towards common ground on environmental health issues, including lead and other toxic exposures. Similar to Pacoima, arenas have emerged in the more engaged communities, worldwide, where quality of life issues, such as health care, housing and the environment, are debated. Within these arenas, experts and laypersons have resolved disputes over competing claims about the definition of an issue, and for equity and greater access to common resources, or public goods, despite vast disparities in knowledge and perspectives that have been shaped by divergent occupational techniques, habits of mind and world images.

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Shaped by Shock

Staff on the Emergency Department 'Shop Floor'

Mark Powell, Stephanie Glendinning, Vanesa Castán Broto, Emma Dewberry and Claire Walsh

In this article we consider the impact of shock in hospital emergency departments where people seek urgent medical care and access hospital services. We define shock as an unexpected event or set of circumstances, for although emergency departments plan for uncertainty, shock moments are when protocols and procedures fail to meet operational demands. We reveal how, depending on the professional experience and personality of staff, shocks are experienced and defined in a variety of ways. On some occasions shocks result in critical departmental failure, while at other times they generate new working practices. Shocks can empower individuals through celebrating teamwork and a sense of belonging, to take personal responsibility at a range of 'shop-floor' scales. These emotional and embodied engagements contribute to the operational resilience of the department.

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Noisy Lives, Noisy Bodies

Exploring the Sensorial Embodiment of Class

Camilla Hoffmann Merrild, Peter Vedsted and Rikke Sand Andersen

Social inequality in cancer survival is well known, and within public health promo- tion enhancing awareness of cancer symptoms is often promoted as a way to reduce social differences in stage of cancer at the time of diagnosis. In order to add to our knowledge of what may lie behind social inequalities in cancer survival encountered in many high-income countries, this article explores the situatedness of bodily sensations. Based on comparative ethnographic fieldwork, we argue that the socially and biologically informed body influences how people from lower social classes experience sensations. Overall, we point out how the sensorial is tied to the embodiment of the social situation in the sense that some bodies make more ‘noise’ than others. It follows that standardised approaches to improving early care seeking by increasing knowledge and awareness may overlook essential explanations of social differences in symptom appraisal.

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The GIPA Concept ‘Lost in Transition’

The Case of Expert Clients in Swaziland

Thandeka Dlamini-Simelane

Following the call by UNAIDS in 2006 to involve people living with HIV (PLHIV) in treatment programmes, expert clients were recruited to provide services within healthcare settings as volunteers alongside paid health workers. Swazi law requires employment contracts for anyone working in a full-time capacity for three months, complicating the status of expert clients. This article traces the genesis of the volunteer framework used to engage PLHIV in the provision of HIV care in Swaziland and describes how the quest for PLHIV to be involved coupled with donors’ promotion of the Greater Involvement of People Living with HIV/AIDS (GIPA) principle have together resulted in PLHIV serving as low-cost workers, disempowering the very people GIPA was meant to empower. I call for review of GIPA-based policies and a paradigm shift regarding a non-medically trained cadre of workers in an era of acute healthworker shortages in resource-limited countries hard hit by HIV.

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Too Little, Too Late?

The Challenges of Providing Sexual and Reproductive Healthcare to Men on College Campuses

Lilian Milanés and Joanna Mishtal

Scholarship and advocacy work regarding reproductive health have often focused on women’s experiences. Concerns about men’s sexual and reproductive healthcare (SRH) have historically been on the margins in this context. In the United States, young men are at the greatest risk for sexually transmitted infections (STIs), yet are the least likely to seek SRH. Based on research with 18 healthcare providers in a large public Florida university clinic, we examined providers’ perspectives about expanding men’s SRH provision and utilisation. Research findings demonstrate inconsistent provider strategies in treating men’s SRH needs and a clinical environment that has low expectations of men receiving preventive care, further perpetuating the placement of SRH responsibility upon women. This article contributes to applied and medical anthropology scholarship on health inequalities through its discussion of the challenges and barriers that contribute to poor SRH for young men and the critical role of providers in this context.