September 19, 2013.
Lecture 2 - Making the Strange Familiar: Illness Experience and
Basic premise of anthropology is “making the strange familiar and the familiar strange”
o Taking something “different” or something we don’t understand and working
towards understanding it and making it the same
Health is Social
Scales of analysis, analytic entry points
Jain: making space for “agency and human materiality of suffering and death”
o Uses own experiences and own life to examine social situations
o Transgendered experience of health and physicality
o Breasts for a transgendered men (or “butch” lesbians) can be very restrictive;
gains specifically undesired attention, can’t wear masculine clothing
comfortably, presents gender identity incorrectly, etc.
o Breast removal due to health reasons; removing shirt in yoga class and potential
issues (or lack thereof) to do with this:
Something conventionally private made public and social power in that
action; doing it to bring attention to the issue?
For example; public displays of affection between homosexual
couples in the 80s and 90s was shocking yet opened the doors to
discussion on homosexual health
Is it still a problem if she is still female but doesn’t actually have breasts?
Is this still a legal issue?
Potentially provoking a range of responses to such an action; what is ok
to see and what isn’t? what is male and what is female?
Das and Das: make meaning out of illness experiences in the context of socialities and
“local ecologies” of treatment
Berry: safe motherhood campaign is attempting to transform Mayan women’s
subjectivities, from relational to autonomous
Anthropologists aim to challenge assumptions that neural chemistry is the same across
all people, or experience of illness, etc.
“someone’s own understanding of his or her place in the world (…) an individual’s
internal processes, dispositions, or understandings, as opposed to other people’s
judgments or attributions about an individual” – Berry
Self-awareness and self-identity as constituted in a particular social and historical
context and in dynamic relations with social relations and historical processes
1. What does Jain mean by describing cancer as “the perfect capitalist disease”? What is
“corporate pinkwashing”? o Cancer is so widely experienced by people, particularly consumers of North
America; it’s hard to find people who haven’t either dealt with cancer
themselves or had a close friend or relative who has
o Companies make a terrible disease such as cancer marketable, branding
everything with a pink ribbon and saying it’s for cancer, selling products under
the name of cancer support and cancer donations