Oral Presentation Session
Reviewed by: Society for Medical Anthropology
Of interest to: Practicing and Applied Anthropologists, Students
Primary Theme: Health
Secondary Theme: Resistance
This panel furthers anthropological inquiries into practices of care as they are or as they fail to be embedded within contemporary biomedicine. Insofar as neoliberal frameworks encourage an increasing separation between the practice of medicine and the practice of caregiving, anthropologists consider how the two are always mutually if not uneasily entangled. Logics and practices of care are often embedded within social acts, or the collective groupings of friends, family, and other networks that work together to produce wellness (Mol 2008). Within biomedicine, the act of providing or denying care to persons as patients is also moralizing and biopolitical, signifying who matters (or does not) in the eyes of professionals, institutions, and states (Livingston 2012, Stevenson 2014). Thinking broadly about care as “the way someone comes to matter” (Stevenson 2014), rather than strictly as an affirming practice, opens up ways of contemplating how and by whom logics and best practices of care are determined and to what ends, as well as the complex intersections of care, suffering, and violence (Garcia 2010). Building on this scholarship, this panel explores when and how diverse practices of care—caregiving, care-denying, care-seeking, and/or receiving care—also constitute acts of resistance, resilience, or adaptation to biomedical power. In doing so, this panel considers how care practices, logics, and discourses are shaped and enacted on state and interpersonal levels, as well as by anthropologists themselves. Together, these papers address several questions and themes: How does the care work of “anti-heroes” (Kleinman and Hanna 2008) within and outside of clinical settings serve as a resistive force against repressive biomedical paradigms, and how does this work serve as critical sources of intervention and resilience for patients? In encountering biomedical institutions, how do lay individuals and collectives determine and follow their own best logics and practices of care, whether by adaptively/selectively engaging in existing biomedical logics to their benefit, or by resisting these logics entirely and creating—sometimes forcefully demanding recognition of—their own? And, as we as anthropologists witness and share these experiences, to what degree and how must we either adapt or rethink and resist ethnographic conventions so as to faithfully communicate the complex intertwining of care and both affirmation and suffering? In sum, as biomedical paradigms are rarely passively received, this panel examines how practices, networks, and institutions of care can be seen as resistant toward globally predominate forces of political economy and biomedical knowledges.