Publication Year: 2007
Published by: University of California Press
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Title Page, Other Works in the Series, Copyright
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This volume grew out of papers and discussions produced in the HarvardMedical Anthropology Program’s Friday Morning Seminar.The FridayMorning Seminar is generously supported by a National Research Scien-tist Award from the National Institute of Mental Health (MH 18006).Thecoeditors thank the other faculty and fellows who helped organize the...
List of Contributors
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Introduction: Rethinking Subjectivity
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This book is an extended conversation about contemporary forms of humanexperience and subjectivity.It examines the genealogy of what we considerto be the modern subject,and it inquires into the continuity and diversityof personhood across greatly diverse societies,including the ways in whichinner processes are reshaped amid economic and political reforms,violence,...
PART I. TRANSFORMATIONS IN SOCIAL EXPERIENCE AND SUBJECTIVITY
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Subjectivity is a “vanishing subject,”writes Amélie Oksenberg Rorty in thisbook’s opening chapter.As she traces the history of some of the philosoph-ical insights that have shaped current understandings of subjectivity and thesubject,Rorty ﬁnds not a progression but various contested movements andfragmentary meanings.Self-awareness has a different philosophical trajec-...
1. The Vanishing Subject: The Many Faces of Subjectivity
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Augustine says,“What then is time? If no one asks me,I know;if I wantto explain it,I do not know.And yet I know”(Confessions,11.14).Au-gustine introduces his perplexity by noting that though the present isevanescent,and neither time past nor time future exists,he can neverthe-less tell the time of day and correct himself if he ﬁnds he is mistaken.We...
2. The Experiential Basis of Subjectivity: How Individuals Change in the Context of Societal Transformation
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For years,the study of subjectivity has been dominated by theories of theself that interrogate cultural representations and performance.These stud-ies have a certain richness in helping us understand how societies changebecause they are able to deal with collective transformations through majorcultural meanings and practices.But they usually leave the intimate sub-...
3. How the Body Speaks: Illness and the Lifeworld among the Urban Poor
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In this chapter,we reﬂect on the meaning and use of diagnostic categoriesto make illness knowable in the course of social transactions.The “illnessnarrative”has emerged as a classic genre in medical anthropology,and it of-fers a way of contrasting patient and physician perspectives on illness.Thefocus on the patient’s construction of her experience is a powerful tool to...
4. Anthropological Observation and Self-Formation
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The recent past has seen a number of relatively new forms of anthropologi-cal practice emerging;others most certainly will be invented in the near fu-ture.Among the current approaches is one that I have been experimentingwith,an approach that privileges extensive interviewing with a distinctivegroup of actors,within a restricted ﬁeld setting.The challenge of this under-...
PART II. POLITICAL SUBJECTS
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In “Hamlet in Purgatory,”literary scholar Stephen Greenblatt challengesFreud’s privileging of Oedipus as the modern representative of psycholog-ical interiority.Greenblatt maintains that Shakespeare’s Hamlet is the onewho does this work (chapter 5 in this volume).“Remember me”is thehaunting demand of the dead father to Prince Hamlet.Following Goethe’s...
5. Hamlet in Purgatory
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Early in 1529 a London lawyer,Simon Fish anonymously published a tractaddressed to Henry VIII called A Supplicacyon for the Beggers.The tractwas modest in length but explosive in content:Fish wrote on behalf of thehomeless,desperate English men and women,“nedy,impotent,blinde,lameand sike,”who pleaded for spare change on the streets of every city and...
6. America’s Transient Mental Illness: A Brief History of the Self-Traumatized Perpetrator
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In May 2000,the New York Timescarried a story headlined “G.I.’s Tell of aUS Massacre in Korean War.”It described an event kept secret from theAmerican public for half a century.The journalists who uncovered the storywere assisted by an army veteran named Edward Daily,who provided aneyewitness account and the names of other participants.Daily confessed...
7. Violence and the Politics of Remorse: Lessons from South Africa
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...“Brother,Brother,what are you saying? I mean you have blood onThere is therefore a poetics of blood.It is a poetics of tragedy andThis chapter does not pretend to offer an anthropological theory of remorse,a ﬁeld that does not exist and that I have no intention of inventing here.1Anthropologists’ lack of attention to remorse either suggests an appalling...
PART III. MADNESS AND SOCIAL SUFFERING
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Madness or psychotic illness fundamentally challenges local understand-ings of human nature,as well as the theorization of subjectivity.Societiesand individuals understand madness in various ways: as possession byhaunting spirits,a ﬂight from reason,a regression to childlike or primitivestates,an essential mode of being in the world and a distinctive form of...
8. The Subject of Mental Illness: Psychosis, Mad Violence, and Subjectivity in Indonesia
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Near noon on a hot,sunny day in August 1997,Subandi and I [BG[ went tovisit a woman we will call Yani,a thirty-six-year-old Javanese woman whowas participating in our study of mental illness in the old city of Yogyakartain central Java.1 We had ﬁrst met her for an interview two months earlierand were returning for a follow-up interview.We walked down a narrow al-...
9. The “Other” of Culture in Psychosis: The Ex-Centricity of the Subject
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When asked to speak about their ﬁrst psychotic experience,patients inter-viewed in Québec could hardly ﬁnd the words to describe what had hap-pened to them:“I was confused,I was losing memory,I was like in confu-sion.”“I was completely down,I couldn’t speak anymore,I was out of touchwith reality,I was totally confused.”“Ah! It’s more than just sickness of the...
10. Hoarders and Scrappers: Madness and the Social Person in the Interstices of the City
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As anthropologists rush to salvage culture in the wake of an increasinglybiologized and globally homogenized psychiatry, they are focusing anewon phenomenology and the subjective experience of people afflicted withthe anomalous states,feelings,and cognition of madness.But recent stud-ies suggest that,in the Western settings in which psychiatry evolved,the...
PART IV. LIFE TECHNOLOGIES
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Science and technology are integral to the deﬁnition of reality and to the re-structuring of power relations and bodily experience.In The Human Con-dition, Hannah Arendt argues that in the course of the twentieth century,political action has increasingly focused on the control of natural life and onthe fabrication of automatons.1 The homo fabergave way to the homo lab-...
11. Whole Bodies, Whole Persons? Cultural Studies, Psychoanalysis, and Biology
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If cultural studies have a core principle,it is a negative one:against univer-sality,against any and all suppositions of a “human nature,”physical or be-havioral.From cultural studies,we learn both of the diversity of bodies andof their manifest cultural malleability.As Elizabeth Grosz says,bodies are“male or female, black, brown, white, large or small...not as entities in...
12. The Medical Imaginary and the Biotechnical Embrace: Subjective Experiences of Clinical Scientists and Patients
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Subjective experiences of clinical scientists who produce and deliver high-technology medicine and of patients who receive treatment via this tech-nology are fundamental to understanding the political economy and cultureof hope that underlie bioscience and biomedicine.In this essay,I examine in-terpretive concepts linking bioscience and biotechnology and their societal...
13. “To Be Freed from the Infirmity of (the) Age”: Subjectivity, Life-Sustaining Treatment, and Palliative Medicine
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Ms. A is a seventy-ﬁve-year-old woman with multiple chronic medicalproblems related to her long history of diabetes mellitus,hypertension,andsmoking. She had two myocardial infarctions that resulted in congestiveheart failure. She also has a history of chronic renal failure, emphysema,chronic foot pain,and mild dementia that probably was the result of several...
14. A Life: Between Psychiatric Drugs and Social Abandonment
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...“In my thinking, I see that people forgot me,” Catarina said to me as shepedaled an old exercise bicycle while holding a doll. This woman of kindmanners and a piercing gaze was in her early thirties;her speech was lightlyslurred.I ﬁrst met Catarina in March 1997 in southern Brazil at an asylumcalled Vita.I remember asking myself,Where on earth does she think she...
Epilogue. To Live with What Would Otherwise Be Unendurable: Return(s) to Subjectivities
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What are the returns to subjectivities today—the interest payments in sub-jectivity;the stocks and bonds (and modalities or paths) of returns to con-structions of, or subjectivations of, the feeling or cognitive self or pluralselves;the payoffs and paybacks for excavating or reconstructing painful il-lusions, the occulted or hidden injuries of fantasy, the erotic charges and...
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Page Count: 477
Publication Year: 2007
Series Title: Ethnographic Studies in Subjectivity