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Postcolonial Disorders

Mary-Jo DelVecchio Good

Publication Year: 2008

The essays in this volume reflect on the nature of subjectivity in the diverse places where anthropologists work at the beginning of the twenty-first century. Contributors explore everyday modes of social and psychological experience, the constitution of the subject, and forms of subjection that shape the lives of Basque youth, Indonesian artists, members of nongovernmental HIV/AIDS programs in China and the Republic of Congo, psychiatrists and the mentally ill in Morocco and Ireland, and persons who have suffered trauma or been displaced by violence in the Middle East and in South and Southeast Asia.

Painting on book jacket by Entang Wiharso

Published by: University of California Press

Series: Ethnographic Studies in Subjectivity

Title Page, Copyright, Dedication

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pp. i-vi


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pp. vii-x

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pp. xi-xii

...which is directed by Byron Good, Arthur Kleinman, and Mary-Jo DelVecchio Good. For over twenty years, the Friday Morning Seminar on Medical Anthropology and Cultural Psychiatry has been a core activity of the Harvard Program in Medical Anthropology, which resides both in the Department of Social Medicine, Harvard Medical School, and the Department of Anthropology, Harvard University.We thank faculty, fellows, guest lecturers, and students in these programs...

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Postcolonial Disorders: Reflections on Subjectivity in the Contemporary World

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pp. 1-40

...This book is a collection of essays reflecting on the nature of subjectivity—on everyday modes of experience, the social and psychological dimensions of individual lives, the psychological qualities of social life, the constitution of the subject, and forms of subjection found in the diverse places where anthropologists work at the beginning of the twenty-first century. The essays are a conscious effort to find new ways to link...

Part I: Disordered States

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1. Madness and the Politically Real: Reflections on Violence in Postdictatorial Spain

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pp. 43-61

...When I was invited to take part in this seminar I was happy to have an opportunity to discuss some of my current work with former colleagues and friends. I have been increasingly preoccupied with the problem of madness as it plays and as it is displayed in the theater of politics.This is for me the beginning of a dialogue about this issue that one could broadly call...

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2. Indonesia Sakit: Indonesian Disorders and the Subjective Experience and Interpretive Politics of Contemporary Indonesian Artists

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pp. 62-108

...Artists—painters, playwrights, musicians—imagined and re-imaged the state and Indonesian society as Suharto’s New Order regime unraveled after thirty-three years of autocratic rule. At the heart of this chapter are the work and reflections of three contemporary Indonesian painters and their efforts to constitute a space and visual language for critical engagement with their society. The chapter draws on our conversations about their subjective...

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3. The Political Dimensions of Emasculation: Fantasy, Conspiracy, and Estrangement among Populist Leaders in Post–New Order Lombok, Indonesia

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pp. 109-131

...This chapter explores the rise in political and religious vigilance in post–New Order Lombok, Indonesia, and the role that militias played in denying Soleh, a nationalist activist in Lombok, the social horizons (loosely, the nation and its youth) he once relied upon to define his political and, in the end, personal reality.The chapter provides an individual case study in order to examine how social disorder and political violence are experienced by...

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4. Haunting Ghosts: Madness, Gender, and Ensekirite in Haiti in the Democratic Era

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pp. 132-156

...Since its independence, the nation has been plagued domestically by political instability, economic stagnation, and environmental degradation, while suffering political nonrecognition, military occupation, and economic management and sanctions by the international community. Two hundred years after its independence, Haiti is infamous for being the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere. Statistics...

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5. Laboratory of Intervention: The Humanitarian Governance of the Postcommunist Balkan Territories

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pp. 157-186

...Since the end of the colonial era, many of the territories where anthropologists have worked have been witness to an increasingly visible “humanitarian presence.” The massive army of volunteer workers, international experts, local staff, and soldiers associated with humanitarian intervention has had a remarkable impact on local cultural landscapes. Despite the increasing...

Part II: Subjectivity in the Borderlands

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6. Everyday AIDS Practices: Contestations of Borders and Infectious Disease in Southwest China

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pp. 189-217

...These mass migrations of peoples, goods, services, and now viruses color a moving transnational canvas. This chapter focuses on the late-socialist Chinese state and untangles the actions of certain actors, such as the policeman quoted above, as the state began to police, control, and prevent the spread of HIV from its minority borderlands into the Han interior. It traces the actions, institutions, and multiple positions and interests government bureaucrats had in defining and transforming...

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7. Of Maids and Prostitutes: Indonesian Female Migrants in the New Asian Hinterlands

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pp. 218-237

...for an “Indonesian transfer maid.” A Christian Indonesian maid will cost you a few hundred dollars more, about the same as a Filipino maid with unlimited replacements within two years. For Indonesian maids there is a free replacement period if she is medically unfit or if you find her unsuitable, but only for the first thirty days. Optional additions to package...

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8. Ambivalent Inquiry: Dilemmas of AIDS in the Republic of Congo

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pp. 238-259

...The emergence of AIDS has posed profound dilemmas of individual and collective diagnosis in societies of francophone central Africa, as elsewhere. The problems brought by the epidemic have been complicated by the social disruption, insecurity, and violence associated with difficult political transitions in the region over the past two decades...

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9. To Live with What Would Otherwise Be Unendurable, II: Caught in the Borderlands of Palestine/Israel

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pp. 260-276

...Qandahar)—somewhere in the space between these Western and Eastern poles of the Middle Eastern theater sits the Maus cartoonist Art Spiegelman slumped over his drawing table, threatened on one side by a man with drawn curved sabre and on the other by a man with drawn gun, equally terrorized by al-Qaeda and by his own government...

Part III: Madness, Alterity, and Psychiatry

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10. The Mucker War: A History of Violence and Silence

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pp. 279-308

...Local newspapers reported that very little was known about the beheaded woman’s identity, aside from her dark skin, her scar from a caesarean section, and her age of roughly thirty years. No fingerprint matches could be made, and her head was not found. The local police chief, in a peculiar move, ordered a dummy to be dressed in the victim’s clothes...

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11. Institutional Persons and Personal Institutions: The Asylum and Marginality in Rural Ireland

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pp. 309-328

...This piece is a sustained reflection on three types of marginality found in Kilronan, a market town and its environs containing about sixteen hundred people found in the Sligo-Leitrim area of Ireland.The three terms I am investigating—“ character,” “unrespectable,” and “mental patient”—all overlap in the life of one of my consultants who...

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12. The Knot of the Soul: Postcolonial Conundrums, Madness, and the Imagination

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pp. 329-358

...Some years later, this text is written in the margin of the encounter that took place that day, in light of encounters that followed with other patients and in different circumstances, but in the wording and concrete features of a particular life, as that life presented itself to me that morning in the emergency room. My reflections, in the form of a circumstantial...

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13. Consuming Grief: Infant Death in the Postcolonial Time of Intervention

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pp. 359-377

...In considering languages of grief in relation to languages of certainty, there is a tension in the ways death can be thought of in connection to modern knowledge. On the one hand,we can consider death as that which underlies the possibility of knowledge, as that end point to the fostering or disallowing of life that stands for the modern configuration of power/knowledge...

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14. Postcoloniality as the Aftermath of Terror among Vietnamese Refugees

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pp. 378-396

...In this chapter we examine the problem of subjectivity as a transformation of lived experience in the wake of civil warfare and formation of the postcolonial nation-state.The specific terms of subjective alteration—collectively imprinted as a clash of political ethos...

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15. Cross-Cultural Psychiatry in Medical-Legal Documentation of Suffering: Human Rights Abuses Involving Transnational Corporations and the Yadana Pipeline Project in Burma

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pp. 397-418

...This chapter describes the suffering and hardship of several villagers from Burma who are now refugees in Thailand. Their life experiences reflect the large population of villagers whose families were forced to leave their homes and villages to make way for the construction of a natural gas pipeline in the Tenasserim region of Burma by US and French transnational oil companies in collaboration with the Burmese military government...


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pp. 419-424


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pp. 425-465

E-ISBN-13: 9780520941021
Print-ISBN-13: 9780520252240

Page Count: 480
Publication Year: 2008

Series Title: Ethnographic Studies in Subjectivity

Research Areas


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Subject Headings

  • Medical anthropology.
  • Diseases -- Social aspects.
  • Colonization -- Social aspects.
  • Globalization -- Social aspects.
  • Subjectivity.
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