Cover

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Title Page, Copyright Page

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pp. i-iv

Contents

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pp. v-vi

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Acknowledgments

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pp. vii-xii

Thanking will not do. This book is not a done deal, all packed and buttoned up for a final departure, so that I can thank so and so for helping me push it out the door. It is stuffed full of unsettled scores, open accounts, still sustaining or consequential encounters. To thank, I feel, would be to hasten the accounting of past transactions with hopes of squaring and closing them, or discounting them as definitive “gifts.” Instead, I would rather take stock and acknowledge (“admit the existence or truth of; make notice of; express gratitude or appreciation,” according...

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Introduction: Oddly Bodily Lives in the Market

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pp. 1-52

Waiting rooms of a home medical practice in a village of northeastern Bosnia fill up with patients every day except Tuesdays and Saturdays. Seventy to one hundred people hang about waiting—forgivingly—until they hear their names called out by the assistants. Some are obviously unwell, held up by their companions or propped up by the wall, slumping on the chairs, eyes shut, wearing bandages, gripping crutches, visibly tense, growing silent. There is nothing obviously the matter with others: a motley crowd of young and old, women, men, and children. Dressing...

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1 Just Surviving: Living Well since the Better Life

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pp. 53-86

Back from a supermarket, the woman was beaming. It was late autumn 2006. She had gone out on a morning mission to spend, wisely, no more than 2 konvertible marks (KM, about 1.25 USD) on essentials: fruit, sweet cream (kajmak), and milk. The family of four has nearly run out of money for the month—2 KM is a third of their usual daily funds. Her excursion was preceded by a heated domestic argument about managing the budget better and resolving, once more, to do things differently next time, so as to truly make the two pensions, hers and her husband’s, last. The woman oversaw the family accounting and ran out of steam...

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2 Insanely Generous: Making Wealth in an Economy of Debt

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pp. 87-117

In Kreka, a regional mental hospital plastered in pastel shades that changed regularly from pink, to blue, to green, courtesy of international aid agencies’ money, an outpatient was diagnosed with a peculiar manic disorder: a “giving mania” (manija davanja). Repainting a façade was a quick fix, a humanitarian shorthand for aid until around the turn of the millennium, when the budgets for post-conflict psycho-social care dwindled and the façade sunk into a dull olive green. The hospital, located on the outskirts of the northeastern Bosnian town of Tuzla, still figured vividly in the popular imagination of excess, exception, as well as norm....

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3 On the Edge: Worries in Common and Circumstantial Communities

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pp. 118-143

From the backseat of an informal taxi I listen to a woman complaining to the driver about the past week ’s poor sales. We are on a two-lane regional highway, traveling from Arizona, once the reputedly largest open-air market in southeast Europe, now curtailed and almost a shopping center. I have finished a day of fieldwork at the market stands, and the passenger, as it becomes clear, has taken off from work early, in frustration. I join their conversation. The elegant woman was once a technician in a socialist leather factory in eastern Bosnia, which she...

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4 Medical Detours: Materiality and Magicality of Quotidian Cures

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pp. 144-184

Who knows how the jar got there, but for as long as I can remember visiting one darling nena’s (grandmother’s) home, it sat at the far corner of the kitchen table, out of the way, veiled and unveiled by the curtain dancing to the summer wind’s tunes, in the canopy of a true indoor garden, by the side of a salt and pepper shaker, as inconspicuous as the shadows on the wall. Look at the photo: it is a quiet moment in the life of a curative mushroom, stuffed tightly in a recycled jar, partly submerged in sweetened water. Nena thought its name was Japanese mushroom and she had...

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5 Strava: Distant Bodies at Hand

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pp. 185-228

I admit: I too was caught up in the search for a genuine healer, a healer “for real” (pravi). Perhaps I should have known better, given my schooling in academic disenchantment and in an anthropological sensibility that much prefers the grittiness of vaguer statements, imperfect improvisations, and practical inconsistencies to the ideal promises of all things authentically real. Authenticity, like presence, counts on a plenitude of sorts that is immediate and accessible, only given the right grasp, but which in the lived and historical circumstances never fails to disappoint—because the matters are still more plentiful or simply...

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6 What If Not for Real? Troubles with Medical Efficacy

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pp. 229-266

“How will you describe me?” the queen often asked. Initially, the tone issued clear warnings that my writing would have consequences. Years later, she would repeat the question teasingly, or wondering why my work was taking me so long. At the same time, she would assure me that the time had not yet come, that the world was not quite ready to know her. I kept writing and rewriting and, in the meantime, returned each summer to spend at least one day a week in her clinic, observing and eventually just hanging out. There is, of course, such a thing as too much ethnography, and mine was already much too much, yet I could...

References

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pp. 267-278

Index

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pp. 279-282

About the Author

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p. 283