Care Labour and Isolation in Italy: New Ethical Challenges Part Two

FRANCESCO DIODATI In the last post, I wrote about the effects of the COVID-19 emergency on elderly care in Italy and the new ethical challenges that emerged in one of the most aged countries in the world under the current crisis. I discussed how the main issue has become how to balance the risk of…

Care Labour and Isolation in Italy: New Ethical Challenges Part One

FRANCESCO DIODATI Since the beginning of the COVID-19 crisis, I’ve decided to make a report on the effects of isolation politics on care labour in Italy, starting from the way the new scenario was reshaping my ethnographic research on elder care in Emilia-Romagna. Emilia-Romagna is one of the northern regions most affected by contagion and…

Covid-19 in Brazil: Politics and Society

LORRAN LIMA The first case of COVID-19 in Brazil was registered on February 24th, 2020. A 61-year-old businessman living in the state of São Paulo was infected after traveling to Italy. On March 16th, the first COVID-19 death, a 62-year-old man, was also registered in the state of São Paulo. The Brazilian Minister of Health…

Lessons for Self-Isolation from Chronically Ill Patients

RITTI SONCCO Since the first cases of Covid-19 were confirmed in the UK, the freedoms of movement, socialisation and conviviality that many of us take for granted have been radically reduced. But for patients who are chronically ill, the social patterns currently dictated by the government are very familiar. My social anthropology research involves fieldwork…

Life Under Quarantine, and now Surveillance: A Dispatch From Greece

ALEXIA LIAKOUNAKOU It’s been more than a week since the Greek government announced that all Greeks are required to isolate at home. On 13th March, the prime minister broadcast a formal address in which he ordered the temporary closure of cafes, restaurants and most other private businesses, urging everyone to stay at home indefinitely. The…

Memoirs From A Month in the Future

LOUIS A G WILKES After finally being let off the plane by a fully suited and booted contagion specialist, my wife and I arrived back in Nanjing, China on the 8th of February. A week prior – at the end of a Spring Festival that will be signified in history as the beginning of this…

COVID-19: We are the ‘underlying conditions’

LUCY NEILAND Repost from Ipsos MORI Ipsos MORI’s award-winning Ethnography Centre of Excellence has been engaging with people who have underlying conditions, exploring how they are adapting to life in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic. Our ethnographers have pulled together an unfiltered view of their stories to develop an empathetic understanding of in-situ behaviours and beliefs….

Coronavirus and Capitalist Realism

ADAM LEON BRISLEY There was something about the images in the press of North American kids defiantly attending “spring break” parties in Miami last week (1) that made me think of a famous quote from Mark Fisher’s Capitalist Realism: “it is easier to imagine an end to the world than an end to capitalism”. (2)…

Coronavirus- Is this our Microbiopolitical Moment?

DARREN OLLERTON Despite following the early emergence of coronavirus with zeal — a combination of intellectual intrigue and morbid fascination with the science fiction potential of pandemic — it took me some time to fully digest the wholesale impact of the current contagion. I can’t deny that this may also have been somewhat facilitated by…

Same Virus, Different Temporalities: Anticipations From Mexico

LAURA MONTESI 21st of March – Oaxaca, Mexico – Day 5 of voluntary quarantine It’s the 21st of March and the official epidemiological record in Mexico reports 203 confirmed cases of Covid-19, 606 suspicious cases, and 2 deaths. Compared with the 47,021 cases of people detected with SARS-Cov-2 in Italy or the 19,980 in Spain…

Coronavirus and Social Isolation: 16 Insights from Digital Anthropology

GEORGIANA MURARIU Repost from Anthropology of Smartphones and Smart Ageing We recently conducted nine 16 month studies on the use of smartphones by older people, which is the main source of insights here. You can read more about the project here. Additional insights are also drawn from Daniel Miller’s The Comfort of People (Polity, 2017), a…

Connections During Coronavirus: From Cuba to Brazil

CLAUDIA FONSECA It hit us with unexpected suddenness, just as it did most other people.  José and I had been taking the public buses all that week of the Medical Anthropology conference in Cuba.  We’d chosen to stay in our private hostel, located in a working-class district near the center of Havana instead of going…

COVID-19 in Cuba: Some Reflections At The Beginning Of The Crisis.

SAHRA GIBBON I have just returned from the Society for Medical Anthropology meeting in Havana which went ahead just days before the bans and restrictions on travel intensified. Going to Cuba after nearly a 12 year absence was not only an opportunity to reflect personally on the changes that have happened there since my last…

“Remodelling a medical brain: Thinking Anthropologically”…

Paulina Pérez-Duarte Mendiola MSc Medical Anthropology & Pediatrician DR KELEKIAN: This treatment is the strongest thing we have to offer you. And, as research, it will make a significant contribution to our knowledge. VIVIAN: Knowledge, yes. W;t A Play by Margaret Edson I entered the room a paediatrician and left ninety minutes later… as someone…

A multi-perspective of global mental health: A summary and reflection on the seminar

Yifan Lu, MSc Medical Anthropology On October 15th  2019, a seminar on mental health and International Development took place at  the UCL Department of Anthropology. Five contributors to the newly published book, The Routledge Handbook of International Development, Mental Health and Wellbeing, gave talks on mental health, drawn from their research. This volume intends to…

MSc in Biosocial Medical Anthropology- Student Reflections

I joined the MSc Biosocial Medical Anthropology after working for two years at a small education charity in London. I had really enjoyed studying anthropology at undergraduate, particularly as my course had offered modules in both social and biological anthropology. I found the point of interaction between the sub-disciplines really interesting, and was keen to…

Reflections from an Anthropology Field School: A Crash Course in Cross-disciplinary Communication

I recently participated in a field school run by the NAPA-OT subsection of the AAA in Antigua, Guatemala. The month-long project on which I worked interrogated the lack of effective communication between different providers of maternal healthcare in the country; biomedical practitioners (OBGYNs & doctors), and non-biomedically trained midwives (‘comadronas’). With one of the highest rates of maternal mortality in Latin America, overcoming boundaries to effective collaboration and referral networks between all medical providers in Guatemala is a key global health concern.

UCL Medical Anthropology Outreach: In Defence of Gender Identities

This is Part II in our series on UCL Medical Anthropology outreach over the summer.  Daniel Newman participated in the UCL Widening Participation Regional Summer Challege (see Part I for more) co-taught by Caroline Ackley and Katja Holtz.  Daniel wrote about gender identity for his final essay. In Defence of Gender Identities By Daniel Newman…

UCL Medical Anthropology Outreach: Regional Summer Challenge

This is Part I in our series on UCL Medical Anthropology outreach over the summer.  We partnered with UCL Widening Participation.  If you’d like to know more about the work of the Access and Widening Participation Team, please see their website. UCL Medical Anthropology Outreach: Regional Summer Challenge By Caroline Ackley and Katja Holtz For…

Ethical Dilemmas from New Delhi to Dharamsala

An objective of my research sought to understand whether a concept of ‘mental health’ exists amongst the TCiE (in contrast to the Western definition of mental health that has been developed by UN/WHO). Interestingly, the UN definition appeared incomplete to respondents as it fails to address ethics.

*New paper* ‘Do our bodies know their ways?’ Villagization, food insecurity, and ill-being in Ethiopia’s Lower Omo Valley

Some results from my research in Ethiopia are now available, ahead of publication in African Studies Review. The paper, co-authored with Lucie Buffavand, is a product of several years work in the lower Omo valley, where a massive hydroelectric dam and sugar plantations are reshaping the landscape and people’s opportunities to live within it. We investigated the experience of people subjected to a campaign of ‘villagization’ – resettlement associated with the establishment of plantations on lands previously used for farming, herding, and foraging.

Welcome to Medical Anthropology at UCL

Welcome to Medical Anthropology at University College London. Medical Anthropology examines how health and well-being are socially and culturally constituted in comparative and transnational contexts and the ways in which culture influences the experience of illness, the practice of medicine and the process of healing for the individual and community. It explores how the experiences and perceptions of the body, self or notion of the individual or person influence the illness experience. It is also concerned with how cultural values and practices dynamically shape and are themselves shaped by biomedical research and practice and non-Western medicines and healing traditions. This blog presents current and emerging research within Medical Anthropology at UCL and abroad, and it offers a forum for exchange and discussion within social science and medical communities.

Medical Anthropology Seminar Series 2017

James Fairhead from the University of Sussex gave the final talk of the Spring 2017 Medical Anthropology Seminar Series. His talk was titled ‘Understanding social resistance to Ebola response in the Forest Region of the Republic of Guinea: An anthropological perspective.’

The Material Culture of Failure

What happens when objects behave unexpectedly or fail to do what they ‘should’? Even when materials, and the institutions in which they are embedded, perform mechanically in the way in which they were designed, they may fail to ‘socially’ do what is expected of them. Who defines failure? Is failure always bad? Rather than viewing concepts such as failure, incoherence or incompetence as antithetical to social life, this innovative new book examines the unexpected and surprising ways in which failure, for better or for worse, can lead to productive and creative results.

Revisiting Critical Medical Anthropology in Oaxaca, Mexico

In January a five day event co-organised by a team from UCL Medical Anthropology and CIESAS in Mexico in the beautiful surrounding of Oaxaca City was a chance to learn a lot more about not only how different traditions of CMA have evolved in Latin America but how those carrying out research in the UK, India, West Africa and beyond are engaging, challenging and re-invigorating the space and shape of CMA .

Excavating and recreating the biosocial; birth cohorts as ethnographic object of inquiry and site of intervention

Sahra Gibbon & Michelle Pentecost Longitudinal birth cohorts are increasingly recognised as important for understanding how biological, social and environmental processes interact over time and contribute to health inequalities. Birth cohorts have also become part of global assemblages of knowledge production, particularly in the field of the Developmental Origins of Health and Disease (DOHaD, Gluckman…