AAA 2016 Session Highlights: Part 2, Discoveries

2016-aaa-annual-mtg-logo-4c-250x286

Image via AAA Website

This is the second in a two-part series spotlighting sessions in medical anthropology at the upcoming 2016 Annual Meeting of the American Anthropological Association (AAA) in Minneapolis, Minnesota. In this second installment, we present a selection of sessions on the theme of “discoveries.” For more information about this year’s meeting, click this link.


Sessions on “Discoveries”: New approaches to the anthropological study of medicine and medical systems, and studies of new and contemporary medical technologies/therapies

RETHINKING GENDER NORMATIVITY, SEXUALITY, AND MORALITY THROUGH NON-BIOMEDICAL EPISTEMOLOGIES

Thursday, November 17th 8:00 AM – 9:45 AM

Organizer(s): Venera Khalikova (University of Pittsburgh) and Kristin Bright (Carleton University, Canada)

Chair: Venera Khalikova (University of Pittsburgh)

Discussant(s): Lucinda Ramberg (Cornell University) and Kristin Bright (Carleton University, Canada)

This session will propose new ways of thinking about gender and sexuality as heterogeneous subjects. The papers will examine how gender and sex are configured and reconfigured in biomedicine and complementary or alternative medical and health systems.

DISCOVERING WAYS IN WHICH DEATH OCCURS IN A CULTURAL CONTEXT

Friday, November 18th 8:00 AM – 9:45 AM

Organizer: Erica Borgstrom (Open University, United Kingdom)

Chair: Erica Borgstrom (Open University, United Kingdom)

Discussant: James Green (University of Washington)

In this session, presenters will reveal how death occurs and is interpreted in both biomedical and local cultural contexts. Papers address death, dying, and aging in India, China, the United States, and in migrant communities in Australia.

(RE)DISCOVERING PSYCHEDELICS IN THE 21ST CENTURY

Friday, November 18th 10:15 AM – 12:00 PM

Organizer(s): Shana Harris (University of Central Florida) and Hilary Agro (University of British Columbia, Canada)

Chair(s): Shana Harris (University of Central Florida) and Hilary Agro (University of British Columbia, Canada)

Discussant: Michael Oldani (Concordia University Wisconsin)

Papers in this session will explore the (re)emergences of psychedelic drugs, particularly in the contexts of treatment and medical research, but also beyond the boundaries of biomedicine: including traditional use of ayahuasca, and the use of drugs in rave culture.
NEW DIRECTIONS IN THE INTERSECTION OF MEDICAL ANTHROPOLOGY AND BIOETHICS 

Friday, November 18th 4:00 PM – 5:45 PM

Organizer(s): Eileen Anderson-Fye (Case Western Reserve University) and Jonathan Sadowsky (Case Western Reserve University)

Chair: Paul Brodwin (University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee)

Discussant(s): Rebecca Lester (Washington University, St Louis) and Jonathan Sadowsky
(Case Western Reserve University)

In this session, presenters will offer four different anthropological cases that highlight the intersections of anthropology and bioethics: genomic research in Africa, physician-aided dying, body image and obesity, and transnational healthcare in Brazil.
“BODY-WORK”: SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY STUDIES IN MEDICAL ANTHROPOLOGY

Saturday, November 19th 2:30 PM – 2:45 PM

Papers in this session will explore the intersections of medical anthropology and contemporary studies in science and technology. Paper topics include the use of human tissue in continuing medical education, ‘smart machines’ and disability, new genetics sequences technologies in a cancer clinic, neuropsychiatry and resistance, and relationships between nurses and patients in HIV clinical settings.

 

AAA 2016 Session Highlights: Part 1, Evidence

2016-aaa-annual-mtg-logo-4c-250x286

Image via AAA Website

This is the first in a two-part series spotlighting sessions in medical anthropology at the upcoming 2016 Annual Meeting of the American Anthropological Association (AAA) in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Though not intended to be exhaustive in scope, this series will highlight a selection of sessions at the AAA that may interest our readers and conference attendees. The sessions spotlighted here centered around two themes: evidence (Part 1) and discoveries (Part 2.) These two subjects are also the core themes of this year’s annual meeting. For more information, find details about this year’s conference at this link.


Sessions on “Evidence”: Paper Sessions on the Themes of Knowledges, Certainties, Uncertainties, Evaluation, and Medical Data in Practice

HEGEMONY OF EVIDENCE: THE SHAPING OF KNOWLEDGE AND UNCERTAINTY

Wednesday, November 16th / 4:00 PM – 5:45 PM

Chair: Shannon Satterwhite (University of California, San Francisco)

This session will include papers on biopolitics, medical documentation, certainty and diagnosis, maternal health data collection, and nursing and primary care practices.

AMBIGUITIES OF CERTAINTY: NEGOTIATING KNOWLEDGE AND NAVIGATING THE BOUNDARIES OF EVIDENCE

Thursday, November 17th 8:00 AM – 9:45 AM

Chair: Anna Zogas (University of Washington)

Papers in this session will address health rationalities and socialities, the nature of uncertainty and medical evidence, and the boundaries of medical knowledges.

EVIDENCE? ACCIDENT? DISCOVERY? PSYCHOSIS, MORAL SUBJECTIVITY AND CARE 

Thursday, November 17th 10:15 AM – 12:00 PM

Organizer(s): Neely Myers (Southern Methodist University) and Michael D’Arcy (University of California, Berkeley)

Chair: Lauren Cubellis (Washington University, St Louis)

Discussant: Elizabeth Bromley (University of California, Los Angeles)

In this session, the presenters will explore numerous connections between psychological experiences, illnesses, and clinical evidence.

EVIDENCE AND THE ENDS OF AIDS: SCIENCE, DISCOURSE, AND POLITICS AT THE END OF THE TREATMENT SCALE-UP ERA

Thursday, November 17th 4:00 PM – 5:45 PM

Organizer(s): Nora Kenworthy (University of Washington, Bothell) and  Matthew Thomann (Columbia University)

Chair: Richard Parker (Columbia University)

Discussant: Vinh-Kim Nguyen (Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies Geneva, Switzerland)

Papers in this session will explore global AIDS/HIV landscapes, including the reframing of risk, data, and treatments. They will also consider the ties between science and politics in HIV/AIDS research and global health initiatives.

CLINICAL IMPRESSIONS: REGIMES OF INTERPRETATION AND EVALUATION IN HEALTHCARE

Friday, November 18th 10:15 AM – 12:00 PM

Organizer(s): Adam Baim (University of Chicago), Colin Halverson (University of Chicago)

Chair(s): Talia Weiner (University of Chicago), Miao Hua (University of Chicago)

Discussant: Barry Saunders (University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill)

This session will explore how biomedical systems are evaluated, how biomedical practitioners evaluate illness, and how medical evidence and interpretation align in numerous settings.

Conference Feature: “Other Psychotherapies”

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This week on the blog, we are highlighting an upcoming conference on global psychotherapies across geography and time. This feature was written by our CMP social media intern Sonya Petrakovitz, PhD student in anthropology at Case Western Reserve University.


“Other Psychotherapies – across time, space, and culture”

University of Glasgow

Monday, April 3, 2017 – Tuesday, April 4, 2017

This conference brings contemporary forms of Western knowledge about mental health and well-being into dialogue with psychotherapeutic approaches from ‘other’ geographically, historically, or otherwise ‘distant’ cultures. Specifically, presentations will address ancient and medieval approaches to psychotherapy and how those techniques have become incorporated into today’s approaches. The sessions will also explore the development of psychological practices over time and across changing spatialities of care practices, specifically how post-colonial and indigenous forms of healing influenced the perceived credibility of psychotherapies. They will likewise examine the therapeutic/salutogenic dimensions of subcultures.

Addressing psychotherapy in this way brings together multiple disciplines and expands our understandings of medicine, health, culture, therapies, and pedagogies. The themes of the conference would be of interest to historians, physicians, literary scholars, mental health practitioners, anthropologists, and anyone interested in learning about different perspectives on psychotherapies within a broader global context.

For interested applicants, visit the Call for Papers page at http://otherpsychs.academicblogs.co.uk/. The Conference Committee invites abstracts of up to 300 words for 20-minute presentations, to be submitted by no later than August 31, 2016. Abstracts should be emailed to  arts-otherpsychs@glasgow.ac.uk along with a short biography of 100 words or less.

Blog Archive: Latour’s AAA 2014 Address

In this installment of the blog, we revisit one of our first conference features. This commentary piece examined Bruno Latour’s Distinguished Lecture address at the 2014 Annual Meeting of the American Anthropological Association in Washington, DC. You can access the original post here.


 

This year at the American Anthropological Association 2014 Meeting, Bruno Latour was invited to deliver the distinguished lecture. Entitled “Anthropology at the Time of the Anthropocene,” Latour discusses the rise in the term anthropocene to describe our current stage of natural history. Although the term makes reference to how “human” (anthro) our current age may be, Latour jests that this term was introduced by geologists, not social scientists. In the anthropocene, it is humans that play the defining role in our geological historical moment.

Logo_of_the_American_Anthropological_Association

via Wikimedia Commons

The assumption, Latour notes, is that human agency is the prime source of action that shapes the physical world. Humans are responsible for climate change, for pollution, for altering the literal, natural fabric of our world. Yet we know that not all humans have the same impact on our environment. As Latour quips, there is not “One Human” who is responsible for the changes we see in our climate or environment. We are simultaneously assessing human power as a plural, collective entity, as well as using this concept to suggest that the blame for global change does not fall evenly across all humans. As anthropologists and cultural theorists, we know how fragile human agency can be when we divide it amongst many contending social and cultural groups.

Is there another way to think about human action that does not problematically configure humans as both collective and individual, acting but not universally accountable for all human actions? Latour posits that rather than focusing solely on agency, with a strong emphasis on human intention and purpose when committing action, we could think instead about animation, or what forces–human and non-human– are in motion in a given social space. To do so, we can no longer assume that the human agent is a colloquial be-all-end-all.

How does this assertion speak to medical anthropology, social medicine, and medical humanities? At first, we might raise our brows at the discussions of geography, environment, and most of all the suspicion surrounding the primacy of human agency. Decentralizing the human agent, we might say, is perhaps the least humanistic approach to the study of human experience. Indeed, medicine is the care of humans by humans!

However, our human ability to question our own power and position in the universe, amidst other natural and non-human forces, is a mark of our species. Whether through philosophy, religion, or social science, humans have a proclivity for ruminating about our place in the material, corporal world. We crave knowledge about what sets us apart from non-human things, and how we are sometimes reliant on them. For scholars of medicine, such inquiries about our relationships with the physical universe is key. We consider the place of non-human agents in disease and care. We ask: why do physicians rely on certain tools? Why do patients see stethoscopes, thermometers, and scalpels as making a clinician legitimate in his or her practice? How are medical traditions made unique by their tools and pharmaceutical formulas? Could the layout of a hospital or clinic itself alter the way care is given?

In an age where technology permeates developed and developing societies, Latour’s suggestion to destabilize human agency is productive when considering medicine as a cultural object. We must think not only of ourselves, but the physical environments we live in and the material objects and devices we cannot seem to live without.

Many scholars understandably resist Latour’s idea that non-humans could have some primitive agency. Yet even if we do not assign agency to non-human tools, things, and environments, thinking seriously about their role in sociocultural systems is informative. Medicine is a lively site of exchange between patients and physicians, as well as practitioners and devices, patients and new medical innovations, and the built environments which house them. As Latour invites us to do, we should pause to consider humans within the midst of a rich material world around us that– like humanity itself– is constantly in motion.

 

AAA 2015 Sessions: Medical and Patient Bodies

This entry is our last in a three-part blog series on the upcoming American Anthropological Association (2015) meeting, to be held in Denver, CO from November 18th-22nd. Here we feature paper sessions on contemporary themes in medical anthropology and social medicine. This year, we showcased sessions on the anthropology of mental health care (read here) and on cultural approaches to food sovereignty and economies, featured last week. In this installment, we highlight three sessions on the theme of the medical and patient body. All sessions are listed chronologically by date and time.

Image via AAA Website

Image via AAA Website

The Politics of Health and Ritual Practices: Ethnographic Perspectives

Wednesday, November 18th from 2:00pm-3:45pm (details here.)

In this session, topics will include: health and religion in Putin’s Russia; rhetoric and biopolitics in local medicines of North India; hypochondria, somatic experience, and psychiatry in Soviet-era Bulgaria; and the implications of mortuary rituals in neoliberal Romania. These papers will particularly interest scholars who study the relationship between body and state, as well as those who examine the intersection of religion, health, and healing practice.

The Biosociocultural Trajectory of Stigma

Sunday, November 22nd from 10:15am-12:00pm (details here.)

Papers in the session will address stigma in the following contexts: methadone treatment in a Moldovan prison; HIV+ identities in intergenerational perspective; changes in HIV/AIDS stigma in Western Kenya; stigma and HIV/AIDS as chronic versus curable; obesity and depression in Puerto Rico; and de-stigmatization in massive weight loss. Through these presentations, the session will posit the medical body at the center of social discourses on stigma, illness, and treatment across cultures.

Micropolitics of Medical Life

Sunday, November 22nd from 10:15am-12:00pm (details here.)

This session spans topics such as: organ donation and the family in Japan; patient-centered approaches to biomedical readmission; infant health in El Salvador; translation and language in medical encounters; ethnographic research on contaminated water exposure and local treatments for infant diarrhea; dialysis and the family unit; and the connections between cells, culture, and knowledge-making. These papers will underscore the cross-cultural ties between body, biology, illness, culture, and daily life.

AAA 2015 Sessions: Food Sovereignty and Food Economies

Last Fall 2014, we featured a series of blog entries highlighting sessions at the AAA 2014 Annual Meeting on topics of interest to our readers. This year, we feature sessions from this year’s AAA 2015 Annual Meeting, to be held November 18-22 in Denver, Colorado (more information here.) You can also browse another past installment of the blog, where we highlighted sessions on biomedicine and the body at the upcoming Society for Social Studies of Science (4S) meeting, also in Denver, to be held November 11-14 (details here.)

This week, we present three paper sessions on anthropological approaches to food sovereignty and food economies: topics that have been increasingly of interest to medical anthropologists who study related issues such as body image, preventative care, nutrition, and well-being. The sessions are organized chronologically by date.

Image via AAA Website

Image via AAA Website

Food Values in Europe: Sustainable Economies, Power, and Activism

Thursday, November 19th 8:00am-9:45am (details here.)

Topics in this session will include the decommodification of food and organic food supplies; organic food provisioning in Catalonia; food values amongst British-born African Caribbean peoples in the United Kingdom; food waste and recycling in southern Spain; food politics, communities, and the garden in the Czech Republic; sustainability in a Galician dairy farm; and food ideologies in an urban Portuguese garden. The session crosses numerous topics of study including European cultures, sustainability and the environment, cross-cultural food practices, green space and the role of the garden, and global nutrition.

Critical Perspectives on Food Sovereignty, Food Justice, and Food Citizenship

Friday, November 20th 1:45pm-3:30pm (details here.)

This session will include presentations on the following topics: agricultural activism in Cuba; food access amongst migrant farm laborers; food justice at the border of the United States and Mexico; food sovereignty in Mexico in popular narratives; food literacy amongst women in a food-insecure neighborhood; and an analysis of divergent perspectives on food justice. These papers will offer valuable perspectives on the role of food in disparities across economic classes and across national borders.

New Directions in Agriculture and Culture: The Convergences of Food, Labor, and Neoliberalism

Saturday, November 21st 8:00am-9:45am (details here.)

Presenters in this session will address: a case study in sustainable entrepreneurship; food sovereignty and food landscapes in Detroit, Michigan; labor and food in a Wisconsin farm-to-table network; Haitian farmers and socioeconomic change; technoscience, translation, and olive oil; seeds and labor on the shorelines of Turkey; and an ecological study of resistance and labor on a South African plantation. These sessions will appeal to scholars who work on economic anthropology, nutrition, or political ecology.

AAA 2015 Sessions: The Anthropology of Mental Health Care

Beginning last Fall 2014, we began compiling lists of sessions at the Annual Meeting of the American Anthropological Association that we thought would be of interest to our readers attending the conference. These sessions included topics such as drug use and abuse, reproductive medicine, and global health. This year, we again feature our series on the upcoming conference, to be held November 18-22 in Denver, Colorado (more information here.) You can also browse last week’s installment of the blog, where we highlighted sessions on biomedicine and the body at the upcoming Society for Social Studies of Science (4S) meeting, also in Denver, to be held November 11-14 (details here.) This week, we present three paper sessions on the anthropology of mental health care. The sessions are organized chronologically by time and date.

Image via AAA Website

Image via AAA Website

Re-Institutionalizing Care: Anthropological Engagements with Mental Health Courts and Alternative Forensic Psychiatry Interventions in North America

Saturday, November 21st 10:15am-12:00pm (details about this session.)

Topics in this session will include racial disparities in a mental health court in Canada; the relationship between criminal justice officials, psychiatric crisis, and mental health; dogma and psychiatry; and mental health care reform. The session lists itself as particularly of note to applied and practicing anthropologists, especially those with an interest in mental health care, policy, and reform.

From the Streets to the Asylum: Medicalizing Vulnerable Children

Saturday, November 21st 10:15am-12:00pm (details about this session.)

This session includes work on the following topics: humanitarian care and child homelessness in Cairo, Egypt; drug use and treatment amongst juvenile prisoners in Brazil; immigrant youth and mental health in France; and notions of American childhood in the context of mental health. Though the session is sponsored by the Anthropology of Children and Youth Interest Group, its topics overlap with many contemporary issues in medical anthropology and the social study of mental health care.

Making Sense of Mental Health Amidst Rising Rural Social Inequality in North America: Class, Race, and Identity in Treatment-Seeking

Saturday, November 21st, 1:45pm-3:30pm (details about this session.)

Presenters in this session will speak on these issues: mental health and poverty in rural New England; mental health and prescription drug abuse in Appalachia; citizenship and mental health in Oklahoma; care access in remote Alaskan communities; community mental health activism; and inequity and depression in rural Kentucky. These sessions will be of interest to scholars of social justice and medicine, as well as those studying mental health care access and the culture of psychiatry in the United States.

Upcoming Conferences in Social Studies of Science/Medicine: Fall 2015

If you have an event to add to this list, please contact Julia Balacko at jcb193@case.edu with the name of the event/conference, date(s), location, and a link to the event page or a brief description. This list is for conference in the Fall of 2015 (August-December.) All conferences/events are organized chronologically by date.


 Seventh International Conference on Science in Society: “Educating Science”

October 1-2 2015 – Chicago, Illinois

http://science-society.com/the-conference/call-for-papers

A Critical Moment: Sex/Gender Research at the Intersection of Culture, Brain, & Behavior Conference

October 23-24 2015 – Los Angeles, California

http://www.thefprconference2015.org/

Society for Social Studies of Science (4S) Annual Meeting

November 11-14 2015 – Denver, Colorado

http://www.4sonline.org/meeting

American Anthropological Association 2015 Annual Meeting: “Familiar/Strange”

November 18-22 2015 – Denver, Colorado

http://www.aaanet.org/meetings/

Logo via AAA website

Logo via AAA website

History of Science Society Annual Meeting

November 19-22 – San Francisco, California

http://hssonline.org/meetings/annual-meeting-archive/

AAA 2014: Perspectives on the Bruno Latour Distinguished Lecture

This year at the American Anthropological Association 2014 Meeting, Bruno Latour was invited to deliver the distinguished lecture. Entitled “Anthropology at the Time of the Anthropocene,” Latour discusses the rise in the term anthropocene to describe our current stage of natural history. Although the term makes reference to how “human” (anthro) our current age may be, Latour jests that this term was introduced by geologists, not social scientists. In the anthropocene, it is humans that play the defining role in our geological historical moment.

The assumption, Latour notes, is that human agency is the prime source of action that shapes the physical world. Humans are responsible for climate change, for pollution, for altering the literal, natural fabric of our world. Yet we know that not all humans have the same impact on our environment. As Latour quips, there is not “One Human” who is responsible for the changes we see in our climate or environment. We are simultaneously assessing human power as a plural, collective entity, as well as using this concept to suggest that the blame for global change does not fall evenly across all humans. As anthropologists and cultural theorists, we know how fragile human agency can be when we divide it amongst many contending social and cultural groups.

Our blog editor at the Latour Distinguished Lecture

Our blog editor at the Latour Distinguished Lecture

Is there another way to think about human action that does not problematically configure humans as both collective and individual, acting but not universally accountable for all human actions? Latour posits that rather than focusing solely on agency, with a strong emphasis on human intention and purpose when committing action, we could think instead about animation, or what forces–human and non-human– are in motion in a given social space. To do so, we can no longer assume that the human agent is a colloquial be-all-end-all.

How does this assertion speak to medical anthropology, social medicine, and medical humanities? At first, we might raise our brows at the discussions of geography, environment, and most of all the suspicion surrounding the primacy of human agency. Decentralizing the human agent, we might say, is perhaps the least humanistic approach to the study of human experience. Indeed, medicine is the care of humans by humans!

However, our human ability to question our own power and position in the universe, amidst other natural and non-human forces, is a mark of our species. Whether through philosophy, religion, or social science, humans have a proclivity for ruminating about our place in the material, corporal world. We crave knowledge about what sets us apart from non-human things, and how we are sometimes reliant on them. For scholars of medicine, such inquiries about our relationships with the physical universe is key. We consider the place of non-human agents in disease and care. We ask: why do physicians rely on certain tools? Why do patients see stethoscopes, thermometers, and scalpels as making a clinician legitimate in his or her practice? How are medical traditions made unique by their tools and pharmaceutical formulas? Could the layout of a hospital or clinic itself alter the way care is given?

In an age where technology permeates developed and developing societies, Latour’s suggestion to destabilize human agency is productive when considering medicine as a cultural object. We must think not only of ourselves, but the physical environments we live in and the material objects and devices we cannot seem to live without.

Many scholars understandably resist Latour’s idea that non-humans could have some primitive agency. Yet even if we do not assign agency to non-human tools, things, and environments, thinking seriously about their role in sociocultural systems is informative. Medicine is a lively site of exchange between patients and physicians, as well as practitioners and devices, patients and new medical innovations, and the built environments which house them. As Latour invites us to do, we should pause to consider humans within the midst of a rich material world around us that– like humanity itself– is constantly in motion.

Julia Balacko is a second-year PhD student in medical anthropology at Case Western Reserve University. She holds an MA in Humanities from the University of Chicago. Her research focuses on the culture of human anatomy and dissection in Western medical traditions, as well as public access to anatomical and pathological specimens.


Note on the presenter:

Bruno Latour is professor at the Sciences Po Paris in Paris, France. A central theorist in STS (science and technology studies), he is the author of We Have Never Been Modern (1991), Science in Action (1987) and Laboratory Life (1979).

You can read the full text of Latour’s lecture here: http://www.bruno-latour.fr/sites/default/files/139-AAA-Washington.pdf

AAA 2014: Sessions on Biotechnology and Medical Practice

For our readers attending the American Anthropological Association annual meeting this year, we’ve put together a second selected list of sessions on anthropological approaches to biotechnology and forms of medical practice. The following selection of sessions was drawn from this year’s AAA online presentation schedule for the 2014 annual meeting, to be held this year in Washington, DC from December 3-7th (for more information, click here: http://www.aaanet.org/meetings).

Wednesday, December 3rd

Reproductive Potentialities: Assisted Reproductive Technologies and the Imagination of Possible Futures

8:00pm-9:45pm

https://aaa.confex.com/aaa/2014/webprogram/Session11643.html

Thursday, December 4th

Techniques and Technologies of Global Health

9:00am-10:15am

https://aaa.confex.com/aaa/2014/webprogram/Session11699.html

What Constitutes Medical Knowledge?: Part 2 of a Discussion of Affliction by Veena Das

11:00am-12:45pm

https://aaa.confex.com/aaa/2014/webprogram/Session10870.html

Saturday, December 6th

Producing Intercultural Discourse in the Clinical Encounter, Part 2

2:30pm-4:15pm

https://aaa.confex.com/aaa/2014/webprogram/Session12505.html

Revisiting Midwifery: New Approaches to an Old Profession

6:30pm-8:15pm

https://aaa.confex.com/aaa/2014/webprogram/Session11410.html

Ordering, Morality, and Triage: Producing Medical Anthropology Beyond the Suffering Subject – Part 1: Biomedical Interventions and Failings

6:30pm-8:15pm

https://aaa.confex.com/aaa/2014/webprogram/Session11357.html

Sunday, December 7th

Doctors: Influencing and Being Influenced by Their Work and Subject

10:00am-11:45am

https://aaa.confex.com/aaa/2014/webprogram/Session12929.html