CFP for the American Anthropological Association Annual Meeting December 2-6, 2009
This call for papers invites you to join a panel I am completing for the Medical Anthropology section of the upcoming American Anthropological Association Annual Meeting, in Philadelphia, December 2–6, 2009.
If you are interested, please email abstracts (250) words and a brief bio or CV to Leonardo Menegola (email@example.com) ASAP.
Selection of the abstracts for the panel, their submission on-line, and registration for the conference have to be completed by APRIL 1st.
Medical Pluralism: Efficacy Models, Aesthetic Models, and the Imagination of Healing
Talk of medical pluralism is a central trope in Medical Anthropology. Movements and groups create, engage in, and adopt distinct practices and systems of knowledge related to health and illness. They feed dynamics between hegemonic systems (namely, biomedicine) and ‘other’ medicines, thus producing scenarios in which the coexisting practices and systems of cure shape the lives of individuals and institutions. This panel deepens two axes of such a framing: The mechanisms of efficacy of particular systems of healing –on the one hand–, and the “imaginations of healing” of those systems –on the other.
Within Modernity, people’s horizons of imagination quickly and easily migrate, transform, and collide throughout contexts of medical pluralism usually characterized by biomedical hegemony. This affects they way in which people imagine healings, be it by elaborating distinct conceptualizations of or by practicing floating understandings about what “a therapy” should be. At the same time, the different formations of ‘therapeutic efficacy,’ tied to each healing system, in their turn “imagine” persons in distinct ways –whether as patients, ill, figures of sufferance and recovering; or healers, doctors, figures of care and healing.
Through the enactment and application of particular “aesthetics of healing” and mechanisms of efficacy; of conceptions of personhood and the body; and of models of the therapeutic relationship and “pedagogies of the cure,” healing systems articulate their context-bound, mutual specificity. Here, it is the distinctive systems of gnoseological categories and the very bodies of the individuals which stand as playgrounds for the structural tension between the processes of social and historical determination of the subject and the dimensions of personal agency, self-determination, or bare life. As a consequence, panoramas of pluralism turn into being a sort of “power-scapes” and “knowledge-scapes.”
This panel welcomes ethnographic accounts of medical pluralism that focus on the display of particular “aesthetics of the cure” or models of efficacy; the implication of discursive practices and systems of meaning relating to symptoms and models of affliction; the involvement of particular moral conceptions of personhood; the employment of particular forms of embodiment, techniques du corps and technologies of the senses; the emergence of particular framings of “experience,” forms of “therapeutic pedagogy,” and ways of formatting the performances of healing. Papers could address complementary and alternative medicines, as well as all those non-conventional healings, which have been increasingly adopted, integrated, or borrowed from within biomedical hegemony –with special reference to (but not being limited to) Western societies. Papers could refer both to contexts of care and healing, education and learning, relationships among institutions and frames of legalization in institutional practices and formal professionalization. The panel also encourages proposals for interdisciplinary dialogue between Medical Anthropology and the disciplines and professions of care, to combine an applied perspective with a theoretically framed one, and to reflect on the epistemological challenges of an increasingly “pluralist” Medical Anthropology, where plural scenarios and objects give way to plural-synthetic conceptual frameworks and methods.
Objective of the panel is to let emerge how the particular, inhabited fringes of medical pluralism refer to the wider social and political dynamics of 1) exclusion and inclusion between biomedical and alternative systems; 2) of resistance, opposition, defense by individuals and groups towards systems of hegemony (margins–center); 3) of political authorization and social recognition of the performances of sufferance and healing; 4) of attribution of meanings to “experiences” of suffering and healing, to “efficacy,” to the apparatuses of techniques and the practical knowledge required to administer them.
According to AAA rules, before submitting a panel proposal all participants must 1) register for the conference, and 2) register for AAA membership (except those who receive a membership waiver).
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