In 1739 China’s emperor authorized the publication of a medical text that included images of children with smallpox to aid in the diagnosis and treatment of the disease. Those images made their way to Europe, where they were interpreted as indicative of the ill health and medical backwardness of the Chinese. In the mid-nineteenth century, the celebrated Cantonese painter Lam Qua collaborated with the American medical missionary Peter Parker in the creation of portraits of Chinese patients with disfiguring pathologies, rendered both before and after surgery. Europeans saw those portraits as evidence of Western medical prowess. Within China, the visual idiom that the paintings established influenced the development of medical photography. In The Afterlife of Images, Ari Larissa Heinrich investigates the creation and circulation of Western medical discourses that linked ideas about disease to Chinese identity beginning in the eighteenth century.
Combining literary studies, the history of science, and visual culture studies, Heinrich analyzes the rhetoric and iconography through which medical missionaries transmitted to the West an image of China as “sick” or “diseased.” He also examines the absorption of that image back into China through missionary activity, through the earliest translations of Western medical texts into Chinese, and even through the literature of Chinese nationalism. Heinrich argues that over time “scientific” Western representations of the Chinese body and culture accumulated a host of secondary meanings, taking on an afterlife with lasting consequences for conceptions of Chinese identity in China and beyond its borders.
Judith Farquhar’s innovative study of medicine and popular culture in modern China reveals the thoroughly political and historical character of pleasure. Ranging over a variety of cultural terrains--fiction, medical texts, film and television, journalism, and observations of clinics and urban daily life in Beijing—Appetites challenges the assumption that the mundane enjoyments of bodily life are natural and unvarying. Farquhar analyzes modern Chinese reflections on embodied existence to show how contemporary appetites are grounded in history. From eating well in improving economic times to memories of the late 1950s famine, from the flavors of traditional Chinese medicine to modernity’s private sexual passions, this book argues that embodiment in all its forms must be invented and sustained in public reflections about personal and national life. As much at home in science studies and social theory as in the details of life in Beijing, this account uses anthropology, cultural studies, and literary criticism to read contemporary Chinese life in a materialist and reflexive mode. For both Maoist and market reform periods, this is a story of high culture in appetites, desire in collective life, and politics in the body and its dispositions.
In this provocative look at one of the most important events of our time, renowned scholar Arjun Appadurai argues that the economic collapse of 2008—while indeed spurred on by greed, ignorance, weak regulation, and irresponsible risk-taking—was, ultimately, a failure of language. To prove this sophisticated point, he takes us into the world of derivative finance, which has become the core of contemporary trading and the primary target of blame for the collapse and all our subsequent woes. With incisive argumentation, he analyzes this challengingly technical world, drawing on thinkers such as J. L. Austin, Marcel Mauss, and Max Weber as theoretical guides to showcase the ways language—and particular failures in it—paved the way for ruin.
Appadurai moves in four steps through his analysis. In the first, he highlights the importance of derivatives in contemporary finance, isolating them as the core technical innovation that markets have produced. In the second, he shows that derivatives are essentially written contracts about the future prices of assets—they are, crucially, a promise. Drawing on Mauss’s The Gift and Austin’s theories on linguistic performatives, Appadurai, in his third step, shows how the derivative exploits the linguistic power of the promise through the special form that money takes in finance as the most abstract form of commodity value. Finally, he pinpoints one crucial feature of derivatives (as seen in the housing market especially): that they can make promises that other promises will be broken. He then details how this feature spread contagiously through the market, snowballing into the systemic liquidity crisis that we are all too familiar with now.
With his characteristic clarity, Appadurai explains one of the most complicated—and yet absolutely central—aspects of our modern economy. He makes the critical link we have long needed to make: between the numerical force of money and the linguistic force of what we say we will do with it.
Over the past several decades, scholars in both the social sciences and humanities have moved beyond the idea that there is a “body proper”: a singular, discrete biological organism with an individual psyche. They have begun to perceive embodiment as dynamic rather than static, as experiences that vary over time and across the world as they are shaped by discourses, institutions, practices, technologies, and ideologies. What has emerged is a multiplicity of bodies, inviting a great many disciplinary points of view and modes of interpretation. The forty-seven readings presented in this volume range from classic works of social theory, history, and ethnography to more recent investigations into historical and contemporary modes of embodiment.
Beyond the Body Proper includes nine sections conceptually organized around themes such as everyday life, sex and gender, and science. Each section is preceded by interpretive commentary by the volume’s editors. Within the collection are articles and book excerpts focused on bodies using tools and participating in rituals, on bodies walking and eating, and on the female circumcision controversy, as well as pieces on medical classifications, spirit possession, the commodification of body parts, in vitro fertilization, and an artist/anatomist’s “plastination” of cadavers for display. Materialist, phenomenological, and feminist perspectives on embodiment appear along with writings on interpretations of pain and the changing meanings of sexual intercourse. Essays on these topics and many others challenge Eurocentric assumptions about the body as they speak to each other and to the most influential contemporary trends in the human sciences.
With selections by: Henry Abelove, Walter Benjamin, Janice Boddy, John Boswell, Judith Butler, Caroline Walker Bynum, Stuart Cosgrove, Michel de Certeau, Gilles Deleuze, Alice Domurat Dreger, Barbara Duden, Friedrich Engels, E. E. Evans-Pritchard, Judith Farquhar, Marcel Granet, Felix Guattari, Ian Hacking, Robert Hertz, Patricia Leyland Kaufert, Arthur Kleinman, Shigehisa Kuriyama, Jean Langford, Bruno Latour, Margaret Lock, Emily Martin, Karl Marx, Marcel Mauss, Maurice Merleau-Ponty, Nancy K. Miller, Lisa Jean Moore, John D. O’Neil, Aihwa Ong, Mariella Pandolfi, Susan Pedersen, Gregory M. Pflugfelder, Rayna Rapp, Nancy Scheper-Hughes, Kristofer Schipper, Matthew Schmidt, Peter Stallybrass, Michael Taussig, Charis Thompson, E.P. Thompson, Anna Lowenhaupt Tsing, Victor Turner, Terence Turner, Jose van Dijck, Keith Wailoo, Brad Weiss, Allon White
By the end of the nineteenth century, Pittsburgh emerged as a major manufacturing center in the United States. Its rise as a leading producer of steel, glass, and coal was fueled by machine technology and mass immigration, developments that fundamentally changed the industrial workplace. Because Pittsburgh’s major industries were almost exclusively male and renowned for their physical demands, the male working body came to symbolize multiple often contradictory narratives about strength and vulnerability, mastery and exploitation. In Bodies of Work, Edward Slavishak explores how Pittsburgh and the working body were symbolically linked in civic celebrations, the research of social scientists, the criticisms of labor reformers, advertisements, and workers’ self-representations. Combining labor and cultural history with visual culture studies, he chronicles a heated contest to define Pittsburgh’s essential character at the turn of the twentieth century, and he describes how that contest was conducted largely through the production of competing images.
Slavishak focuses on the workers whose bodies came to epitomize Pittsburgh, the men engaged in the arduous physical labor demanded by the city’s metals, glass, and coal industries. At the same time, he emphasizes how conceptions of Pittsburgh as quintessentially male limited representations of women in the industrial workplace. The threat of injury or violence loomed large for industrial workers at the turn of the twentieth century, and it recurs throughout Bodies of Work: in the marketing of artificial limbs, statistical assessments of the physical toll of industrial capitalism, clashes between labor and management, the introduction of workplace safety procedures, and the development of a statewide workmen’s compensation system.
A Colonial Lexicon is the first historical investigation of how childbirth became medicalized in Africa. Rejecting the “colonial encounter” paradigm pervasive in current studies, Nancy Rose Hunt elegantly weaves together stories about autopsies and bicycles, obstetric surgery and male initiation, to reveal how concerns about strange new objects and procedures fashioned the hybrid social world of colonialism and its aftermath in Mobutu’s Zaire. Relying on archival research in England and Belgium, as well as fieldwork in the Congo, Hunt reconstructs an ethnographic history of a remote British Baptist mission struggling to survive under the successive regimes of King Leopold II’s Congo Free State, the hyper-hygienic, pronatalist Belgian Congo, and Mobutu’s Zaire. After exploring the roots of social reproduction in rituals of manhood, she shows how the arrival of the fast and modern ushered in novel productions of gender, seen equally in the forced labor of road construction and the medicalization of childbirth. Hunt focuses on a specifically interwar modernity, where the speed of airplanes and bicycles correlated with a new, mobile medicine aimed at curbing epidemics and enumerating colonial subjects. Fascinating stories about imperial masculinities, Christmas rituals, evangelical humor, colonial terror, and European cannibalism demonstrate that everyday life in the mission, on plantations, and under a strongly Catholic colonial state was never quite what it seemed. In a world where everyone was living in translation, privileged access to new objects and technologies allowed a class of “colonial middle figures”—particularly teachers, nurses, and midwives—to mediate the evolving hybridity of Congolese society. Successfully blurring conventional distinctions between precolonial, colonial, and postcolonial situations, Hunt moves on to discuss the unexpected presence of colonial fragments in the vibrant world of today’s postcolonial Africa. With its close attention to semiotics as well as sociology, A Colonial Lexiconwill interest specialists in anthropology, African history, obstetrics and gynecology, medical history, religion, and women’s and cultural studies.
In CT Suite the doctor and anthropologist Barry F. Saunders provides an ethnographic account of how a particular diagnostic technology, the computed tomographic (CT) scanner, shapes social relations and intellectual activities in and beyond the CT suite, the unit within the diagnostic radiology department of a large teaching hospital where CT images are made and interpreted. Focusing on how expertise is performed and how CT images are made into diagnostic evidence, he concentrates not on the function of CT images for patients but on the function of the images for medical professionals going about their routines. Yet Saunders offers more than insider ethnography. He links diagnostic work to practices and conventions from outside medicine and from earlier historical moments. In dialogue with science and technology studies, he makes a significant contribution to scholarship on the visual cultures of medicine.
Saunders’s analyses are informed by strands of cultural history and theory including art historical critiques of realist representation, Walter Benjamin’s concerns about violence in “mechanical reproduction,” and tropes of detective fiction such as intrigue, the case, and the culprit. Saunders analyzes the diagnostic “gaze” of medical personnel reading images at the viewbox, the two-dimensional images or slices of the human body rendered by the scanner, methods of archiving images, and the use of scans as pedagogical tools in clinical conferences. Bringing cloistered diagnostic practices into public view, he reveals the customs and the social and professional hierarchies that are formulated and negotiated around the weighty presence of the CT scanner. At the same time, by returning throughout to the nineteenth-century ideas of detection and scientific authority that inform contemporary medical diagnosis, Saunders highlights the specters of the past in what appears to be a preeminently modern machine.
The period since 1989 has been marked by the global endorsement of open markets, the free flow of finance capital and liberal ideas of constitutional rule, and the active expansion of human rights. Why, then, in this era of intense globalization, has there been a proliferation of violence, of ethnic cleansing on the one hand and extreme forms of political violence against civilian populations on the other?
Fear of Small Numbers is Arjun Appadurai’s answer to that question. A leading theorist of globalization, Appadurai turns his attention to the complex dynamics fueling large-scale, culturally motivated violence, from the genocides that racked Eastern Europe, Rwanda, and India in the early 1990s to the contemporary “war on terror.” Providing a conceptually innovative framework for understanding sources of global violence, he describes how the nation-state has grown ambivalent about minorities at the same time that minorities, because of global communication technologies and migration flows, increasingly see themselves as parts of powerful global majorities. By exacerbating the inequalities produced by globalization, the volatile, slippery relationship between majorities and minorities foments the desire to eradicate cultural difference.
Appadurai analyzes the darker side of globalization: suicide bombings; anti-Americanism; the surplus of rage manifest in televised beheadings; the clash of global ideologies; and the difficulties that flexible, cellular organizations such as Al-Qaeda present to centralized, “vertebrate” structures such as national governments. Powerful, provocative, and timely, Fear of Small Numbers is a thoughtful invitation to rethink what violence is in an age of globalization.
Feeding Anorexia challenges prevailing assumptions regarding the notorious difficulty of curing anorexia nervosa. Through a vivid chronicle of treatments at a state-of-the-art hospital program, Helen Gremillion reveals how the therapies participate unwittingly in culturally dominant ideals of gender, individualism, physical fitness, and family life that have contributed to the dramatic increase in the incidence of anorexia in the United States since the 1970s. She describes how strategies including the meticulous measurement of patients' progress in terms of body weight and calories consumed ultimately feed the problem, not only reinforcing ideas about the regulation of women's bodies, but also fostering in many girls and women greater expertise in the formidable constellation of skills anorexia requires. At the same time, Gremillion shows how contradictions and struggles in treatment can help open up spaces for change.
Feeding Anorexia is based on fourteen months of ethnographic research in a small inpatient unit located in a major teaching and research hospital in the western United States. Gremillion attended group, family, and individual therapy sessions and medical staff meetings; ate meals with patients; and took part in outings and recreational activities. She also conducted over one hundred interviews-with patients, parents, staff, and clinicians. Among the issues she explores are the relationship between calorie-counting and the management of consumer desire; why the "typical" anorexic patient is middle-class and white; the extent to which power differentials among clinicians, staff, and patients model "anorexic families"; and the potential of narrative therapy to constructively reframe some of the problematic assumptions underlying more mainstream treatments.
Arjun Appadurai, ed. Duke University Press, 2001 Library of Congress JZ1318.G5787 2001 | Dewey Decimal 303.482
Edited by one of the most prominent scholars in the field and including a distinguished group of contributors, this collection of essays makes a striking intervention in the increasingly heated debates surrounding the cultural dimensions of globalization. While including discussions about what globalization is and whether it is a meaningful term, the volume focuses in particular on the way that changing sites—local, regional, diasporic—are the scenes of emergent forms of sovereignty in which matters of style, sensibility, and ethos articulate new legalities and new kinds of violence. Seeking an alternative to the dead-end debate between those who see globalization as a phenomenon wholly without precedent and those who see it simply as modernization, imperialism, or global capitalism with a new face, the contributors seek to illuminate how space and time are transforming each other in special ways in the present era. They examine how this complex transformation involves changes in the situation of the nation, the state, and the city. While exploring distinct regions—China, Africa, South America, Europe—and representing different disciplines and genres—anthropology, literature, political science, sociology, music, cinema, photography—the contributors are concerned with both the political economy of location and the locations in which political economies are produced and transformed. A special strength of the collection is its concern with emergent styles of subjectivity, citizenship, and mobilization and with the transformations of state power through which market rationalities are distributed and embodied locally.
Contributors. Arjun Appadurai, Jean François Bayart, Jérôme Bindé, Néstor García Canclini, Leo Ching, Steven Feld, Ralf D. Hotchkiss, Wu Hung, Andreas Huyssen, Boubacar Touré Mandémory, Achille Mbembe, Philipe Rekacewicz, Saskia Sassen, Fatu Kande Senghor, Seteney Shami, Anna Tsing, Zhang Zhen
The Republic of Therapy tells the story of the global response to the HIV epidemic from the perspective of community organizers, activists, and people living with HIV in West Africa. Drawing on his experiences as a physician and anthropologist in Burkina Faso and Côte d’Ivoire, Vinh-Kim Nguyen focuses on the period between 1994, when effective antiretroviral treatments for HIV were discovered, and 2000, when the global health community acknowledged a right to treatment, making the drugs more available. During the intervening years, when antiretrovirals were scarce in Africa, triage decisions were made determining who would receive lifesaving treatment. Nguyen explains how those decisions altered social relations in West Africa. In 1994, anxious to “break the silence” and “put a face to the epidemic,” international agencies unwittingly created a market in which stories about being HIV positive could be bartered for access to limited medical resources. Being able to talk about oneself became a matter of life or death. Tracing the cultural and political logic of triage back to colonial classification systems, Nguyen shows how it persists in contemporary attempts to design, fund, and implement mass treatment programs in the developing world. He argues that as an enactment of decisions about who may live, triage constitutes a partial, mobile form of sovereignty: what might be called therapeutic sovereignty.
In 2002, the University of Alabama's Department of Religious Studies established the annual Aronov Lecture Series to showcase the works of nationally recognized scholars of religion capable of reflecting on issues of wide relevance to scholars from across the humanities and social sciences. Writing Religion:The Case for the Critical Study of Religion is an edited collection of essays that highlights critical contributions from the first ten Aronov lecturers.
Section one of the volume, “Writing Discourses,” features essays by Jonathan Z. Smith, Bruce Lincoln, and Ann Pellegrini that illustrate how critical study enables the analysis of discourses in society and history. Section two, “Riting Social Formations,” includes pieces by Arjun Appadurai, Judith Plaskow, and Nathan Katz that reference both the power of rites to construct society and the act of riting as a form of disciplining that both prescribes and proscribes. The writings of Tomoko Masuzawa, Amy-Jill Levine, Aaron W. Hughes, and Martin S. Jaffee appear in section three, “Righting the Discipline.” They emphasize the correction of movements within the academic study of religion.
Steven W. Ramey frames the collection with a thoughtful introduction that explores the genesis, development, and diversity of critical analysis in the study of religion. An afterword by Russell McCutcheon reflects on the critical study of religion at the University of Alabama and rounds out this superb collection.
The mission of the Department of Religious Studies is to “avoid every tendency toward confusing the study of religion with the practice of religion.” Instruction about—rather than in—religion is foundational to the department’s larger goal of producing knowledge of the world and its many practices and systems of beliefs. Infused with this spirit, these fascinating essays, which read like good conversations with learned friends, offer significant examples of each scholar’s work. Writing Religion will be of value to graduate students, advanced undergraduates, and scholars interested in the study of religion from a critical perspective.