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Troubling Natural Categories

Troubling Natural Categories: Engaging the Medical Anthropology of Margaret Lock

Copyright Date: 2013
Pages: 264
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  • Book Info
    Troubling Natural Categories
    Book Description:

    Where do our conventional understandings of health, illness, and the body stem from? What makes them authoritative? How are the boundaries set around these areas of life unsettled in the changing historical and political contexts of science, technology, and health care delivery? These questions are at the heart of Troubling Natural Categories, a collection of essays honouring the tradition of Margaret Lock, one of the preeminent medical anthropologists of our time. Throughout her career, Lock has investigated how medicine sets boundaries around what is deemed "normal" and "natural," and how, in turn, these ideas shape our technical and moral understandings of life, sickness, and death. In this book, nine established medical anthropologists - all former students of Lock - critically engage with her work, offering ethnographic and historical analyses that problematize taken-for-granted constructs in health and medicine in a range of global settings. The essays elaborate cutting-edge themes within medical anthropology, including the often disturbing, inherently political nature of biomedicine and biotechnology, the medicalization of mental health processes, and the formation of uniquely "local biologies" through the convergence of bodily experience, scientific discourse, and new technologies of care. Troubling Natural Categories not only affirms Margaret Lock's place at the forefront of scholarship but, with these essays, carves out new intellectual directions in the medical social sciences. Contributors include Sean Brotherton, Vinh-Kim Nguyen, Junko Kitanaka, Stephanie Lloyd, Dominique Behague, and Annette Leibing.

    eISBN: 978-0-7735-8907-0
    Subjects: Anthropology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Tables and Figures
    (pp. vii-viii)
  4. Acknowledgments
    (pp. ix-2)
  5. Introduction: Margaret Lock and Medical Anthropology
    (pp. 3-15)

    When reflecting on the extraordinary growth of medical anthropology over the past thirty years, the names of a few scholars inevitably come to the fore. Margaret Lock has a prominent place among the handful of intellectuals who have defined medical anthropology as a major sub-discipline within anthropology, and she has made an indelible contribution to wider debates about the power relationships among health, medicine, and technology. Margaret’s extraordinary ability to combine imagination, acuity, and rigour in her scholarship has set the gold standard for many anthropologists. When Lock was awarded the prestigious Molson Prize in 2002, the Canada Council for...

  6. 1 A Genealogy of Bodily Practices in Post-Soviet Cuba
    (pp. 16-33)

    Margaret Lock’s path-breaking scholarship on the anthropology of the body, spanning her earlier work on demystifying the assumptions of the natural body to more recent work on the commodification of bodily life and the materiality of the body, has set a foundational precedent in medical anthropology for critically reworking the relationship between dominant ideologies and the lived experience of bodies (Lock 1993a; 1993b; 1997; 2002; Lock and Schepher-Hughes 1987). Buttressed by rich ethnographic research in both Japan and North America, and with an acute attention to social theory, Lock’s comparative methodology has been pivotal in challenging the takenfor-granted notion of...

  7. 2 Therapeutic Modernism: Medical Pluralism, Local Biologies, and HIV in Côte d’Ivoire
    (pp. 34-57)

    I trained under Margaret Lock in the years after she published her seminal workEncounters with Aging(1993). After three years of practising full-time as an emergency and HIV physician, the grind of medical practice had left me longing for an approach that went beyond the clinical or epidemiological sciences. Neither helped me make sense of what I saw in the clinic. As I began working in West Africa as a community organizer with HIV groups, most of the anthropological work I encountered viewed the epidemic through the lens of either culture or political economy. The realities I encountered were...

  8. 3 Rational Sex at the Margins of the State: Sex Work, Violence, and HIV Prevention in Papua, Indonesia
    (pp. 58-79)

    Gaps between global ideals of HIV/AIDS prevention and the reality of local initiatives have been widely noted. Globally sanctioned interventions such as promoting rational decision making around sex, and the ABC model (Abstinence, Be faithful, and use Condoms), draw from behaviour models that regard sexual behaviour as risky when it deviates from narrowly defined norms. Assumptions about reasoned sexual practice are rooted in conceptions of human behaviour that assume individuals can and do routinely assess risks from a narrow rationalistic point of view, and modify their behaviour accordingly. When rational sex is put into practice, cracks show up almost immediately,...

  9. 4 The Gendering of Depression in Japan
    (pp. 80-101)
    Junko Kitanaka

    Depression has long been represented in the West as a quintessential female malady, where women are said to be twice as likely as men to become depressed. This gender ratio has been used by some feminists to argue that depression epitomizes women’s suffering (Jack 1991). Japan poses a challenge to this characterization, however, because, until recently, rates of male depression had been as high as – sometimes even higher than – those of women. Throughout the twentieth century, numerous Japanese psychiatrists have commented on this statistical anomaly (e.g., Hirasawa 1966; Naka 1932; Nakane et al. 2004). As Margaret Lock called to our...

  10. 5 From Spasmophilia to Social Phobia: Conversions of French Anxiety
    (pp. 102-122)

    In the 1940s, a disabling syndrome was identified in France. This disorder, spasmophilia, which literally means “to like spasms,” was characterized by a range of symptoms including muscular spasms and hyperventilation, as well as cramps, convulsions, loss of memory, insomnia, migraines, stress, anxiety, the “neurotic triad” of hypochondriasis, depression, and hysteria, and other personalized symptoms (Durlach and Bara 2000, 98–9 and 129). The condition was believed to be linked to a magnesium deficiency and sometimes to a calcium imbalance, depending on the specialist consulted.

    Rarely identified elsewhere, spasmophilia was a recognizable culture-bound syndrome frequently diagnosed within France. The diagnosis...

  11. 6 Unconventional Psychiatric Medico-Politicization: The Making and Unmaking of Behavioural Disorders in Pelotas, Brazil
    (pp. 123-144)

    Over the past two to three decades, the use of child-and adolescent-specific psychiatric diagnoses such as conduct disorder and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) has grown rapidly in North American and Western (particularly Anglo) European psychiatry.

    The proliferation of these categories is an outgrowth of what some have described as a paradigm shift in psychiatry: from a more interpretive psychodynamic tradition to one that is embedded in the standardized classification system of theDiagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders(DSM-III) and that purports to be broadly and universally applicable (Mayes and Horwitz 2005). Scholars have devoted considerable attention to...

  12. 7 Cases and Narratives in Private Medical Providers’ Accounts of Managing HIV in Urban India
    (pp. 145-167)

    While medical pluralism in India has been of longstanding interest to medical anthropologists (see Leslie, 1976; Leslie and Young, 1992), it is only more recently that pluralism, under the guise of privatization in Indian health care, has attracted comparable interest among public health specialists. Accompanying nationwide economic reforms toward a market-based economy (Purohit 2001; Sen 2003), India’s private medical sector rapidly expanded throughout the 1990s, encompassing a wide range of formal and informal medical providers with varying degrees of institutional legitimacy. Operating alongside the government health services, private medical practitioners represent the first pattern of resort for a majority of...

  13. 8 Embodied Molecules: Negotiating Medications in Troubled Times
    (pp. 168-188)

    As a member of the research group MéOS¹ – studying medications as social objects – I am interested in the question of what medications do to people.² The simplest way to discuss this is to speak of effect: medications are used to enhance, cure, pleasure, and stabilize bodies in need of change. As I will argue, however, effect is highly context-dependent and goes beyond the purely molecular level of the individual body. The relevance of this realm of beyond is the central point of this essay and is something I call embodied molecules. The idea of exploring effect more carefully was triggered...

  14. 9 Digital Landscapes of Health
    (pp. 189-208)

    In early August of 2009The Globe & Mailnewspaper reported that Canadian Prime Minister Harper and then federal Industry Minister Tony Clement held a small, private dinner in Ottawa with the CEOs of two of Canada’s largest digital technology industries of the time, RIM and Nortel. As a result of that meeting, Mr Clement publicly promised a “competitive and thriving digital economy” followed very soon after by Prime Minister Harper’s announcement of his socalled major “rollout of a rural broadband strategy” (McCarthy 2009, B1). Despite the ensuing collapse of Nortel and the recent decline of RIM and their effects...

  15. Afterword: Seeing Like an Anthropologist
    (pp. 209-222)

    As a small child one of my prize possessions was a shrapnel collection composed of pieces of tangled metal that had been scattered about the town of Orpington where I grew up. This debris was left by bombs fallen short of their London targets after the nightly air raids that took place, starting with The Blitz in 1940, and culminating in rocket attacks in 1945. The second to last rocket of the war fell on my family’s house – we were eating breakfast at the time. Neighbours were killed, but my family survived albeit with major injuries. Like the majority of...

  16. Selected Awards and Publications by Margaret Lock
    (pp. 223-232)
  17. Contributors
    (pp. 233-234)
  18. Index
    (pp. 235-242)