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Forms of Living

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Forms of Living

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Affliction

Health, Disease, Poverty

Veena Das

Affliction inaugurates a novel way of understanding the trajectories of health and disease in the context of poverty. Focusing on low-income neighborhoods in Delhi, it stitches together three different sets of issues. _x000B__x000B_First, it examines the different trajectories of illness: What are the circumstances under which illness is absorbed within the normal and when does it exceed the normal—putting resources, relationships, and even one’s world into jeopardy? _x000B__x000B_A second set of issues involves how different healers understand their own practices. The astonishing range of practitioners found in the local markets in the poor neighborhoods of Delhi shows how the magical and the technical are knotted together in the therapeutic experience of healers and patients. The book asks: What is expert knowledge? What is it that the practitioner knows and what does the patient know? How are these different forms of knowledge brought together in the clinical encounter, broadly defined? How does this event of everyday life bear the traces of larger policies at the national and global levels? _x000B__x000B_Finally, the book interrogates the models of disease prevalence and global programming that emphasize surveillance over care and deflect attention away from the specificities of local worlds. Yet the analysis offered retains an openness to different ways of conceptualizing “what is happening” and stimulates a conversation between different disciplinary orientations to health, disease, and poverty._x000B__x000B_Most studies of health and disease focus on the encounter between patient and practitioner within the space of the clinic. This book privileges, instead, the networks of relations, institutions, and knowledge over which the experience of illness is dispersed. Instead of thinking of illness as an event set apart from everyday life, it shows the texture of everyday life, the political economy of neighborhoods, as well as the dark side of care. It helps us see how illness is bound by the contexts in which it occurs, while also showing how illness transcends these contexts to say something about the nature of everyday life and the making of subjects.

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Being Brains

Making the Cerebral Subject

Fernando Vidal

Being Brains offers a critical exploration of one of the most influential and pervasive contemporary beliefs: “We are our brains.” Starting in the “Decade of the Brain” of the 1990s, “neurocentrism” became widespread in most Western and many non-Western societies. Formidable advances, especially in neuroimaging, have bolstered this “neurocentrism” in the eyes of the public and political authorities, helping to justify increased funding for the brain sciences. The human sciences have also taken the “neural turn,” and subspecialties in fields such as anthropology, aesthetics, education, history, law, sociology, and theology have grown and professionalized at record speed. At the same time, the development of dubious but successful commercial enterprises such as “neuromarketing and “neurobics” have emerged to take advantage of the heightened sensitivity to all things neuro. Skeptics have only recently begun to react to the hype, invoking warnings of neuromythology, neurotrash, neuromania, and neuromadness. While this neurocentric view of human subjectivity is neither hegemonic nor monolithic, it embodies a powerful ideology that is at the heart of some of today’s most important philosophical, ethical, scientific, and political debates. Being Brains critically explores the internal logic of such ideology, its genealogy, and its main contemporary incarnations.

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Bruno Latour in Pieces

An Intellectual Biography

Henning Schmidgen, Translated by Gloria Custance

Bruno Latour stirs things up. Latour began as a lover of science and technology, co-founder of actor-network theory, and philosopher of a modernity that had “never been modern.” In the meantime he is regarded not just as one of the most intelligent—and also popular—exponents of science studies, but also as a major innovator of the social sciences, an exemplary wanderer who walks the line between the sciences and the humanities._x000B__x000B_This book provides the first comprehensive overview of the Latourian oeuvre, from his early anthropological studies in Abidjan (Ivory Coast), to influential books like Laboratory Life and Science in Action, and his most recent reflections on an empirical metaphysics of “modes of existence.” In the course of this enquiry it becomes clear that the basic problem to which Latour’s work responds is that of social tradition, the transmission of experience and knowledge. What this empirical philosopher constantly grapples with is the complex relationship of knowledge, time, and culture._x000B_

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The Helmholtz Curves

Tracing Lost Time

Henning Schmidgen, Translated by Nils F. Schott

This book reconstructs the emergence of the phenomenon of “lost time,” by engaging with two of the most significant time experts of the nineteenth century: the German physiologist Hermann von Helmholtz and the French writer Marcel Proust. _x000B__x000B_Its starting point is the archival discovery of curve images that Helmholtz produced in the context of pathbreaking experiments on the temporality of the nervous system in 1851. With a “frog drawing machine” Helmholtz established the temporal gap between stimulus and response that has remained a core issue in debates between neuroscientists and philosophers._x000B__x000B_When naming the recorded phenomena, Helmholtz introduced the term temps perdu, or lost time. Proust had excellent contacts with the biomedical world of late-nineteenth-century Paris, and he was familiar with this term and physiological tracing technologies behind it. Drawing on the machine philosophy of Deleuze, Schmidgen highlights the resemblance between the machinic assemblages and rhizomatic networks within which Helmholtz and Proust pursued their respective projects._x000B_

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The Ploy of Instinct

Victorian Sciences of Nature and Sexuality in Liberal Governance

Kathleen Frederickson

It is paradoxical that instinct became a central term for late-Victorian sexual sciences as they were elaborated in the medicalized spaces of confession and introspection, given that instinct had long been defined in its opposition to self-conscious thought. The Ploy of Instinct ties this paradox to instinct’s deployment in conceptualizing governmentality._x000B__x000B_Instinct’s domain, Frederickson argues, extended well beyond the women, workers, and “savages” to whom it was so often ascribed. The concept of instinct helped to gloss over contradictions in British liberal ideology made palpable as turn-of-the-century writers grappled with the legacy of Enlightenment humanism. For elite European men, instinct became both an agent of “progress” and a force that, in contrast to desire, offered a plenitude in answer to the alienation of self-consciousness._x000B__x000B_This shift in instinct’s appeal to privileged European men modified the governmentality of empire, labor, and gender. The book traces these changes through parliamentary papers, pornographic fiction, accounts of Aboriginal Australians, suffragette memoirs, and scientific texts in evolutionary theory, sexology, and early psychoanalysis. _x000B__x000B_

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What's These Worlds Coming To?

Jean-Luc Nancy, and Aurélien Barrau, Translated by Travis Holloway, and Flor Méchain, Foreword by David Pettigrew

new world has stolen up on us. We no longer live in a world, but in worlds. We do not live in a universe anymore, but rather in a multiverse. We no longer create; we appropriate and montage. And we no longer build sovereign, hierarchical political institutions; we form local assemblies and networks of cross-national assemblages—and we do this at the same time as we form multinational corporations that no longer pay taxes to the State. In such a time, one of the world’s most eminent philosophers and an emerging astrophysicist return to the ancient art of cosmology. Nancy and Barrau’s work is a study of life, plural worlds, and what the authors call the struction or rebuilding of these worlds._x000B_ _x000B_Nancy and Barrau invite us on an uncharted walk into barely known worlds when an everyday French idiom, “What’s this world coming to?,” is used to question our conventional thinking about the world. We soon find ourselves living among heaps of odd bits and pieces that are amassing without any unifying force or center, living not only in a time of ruin and fragmentation, but of rebuilding. Astrophysicist Aurélien Barrau articulates a major shift in the paradigm of contemporary physics from a universe to a multiverse. Meanwhile, Jean-Luc Nancy's essay “Of Struction” is a contemporary comment on the project of deconstruction and French post-structuralist thought. Together Barrau and Nancy argue that contemporary thought has shifted from deconstruction to what they carefully call the struction of dis-order. _x000B_

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Wording the World

Veena Das and Scenes of Inheritance

Edited by Roma Chatterji

The essays in this book explore the critical possibilities that have been opened out by Veena Das’s work. Taking off from her writing on pain as a call for acknowledgement, several essays explore how social sciences render pain, suffering, and the claims of the other as part of an ethics of responsibility. They seach for disciplinary resources to contest the implicit division between those whose pain receives attention and those whose pain is seen as out of sync with the times and hence written out of the historical record. _x000B__x000B_Another theme is the co-constitution of the event and the everyday, especially in the context of violence. Das’s groundbreaking formulation of the everyday provides a frame for understanding how both violence and healing might grow out of it. Drawing on notions of life and voice and the struggle to author one’s own narrative, the contributors provide rich ethnographies of what it is to inhabit a devastated world._x000B__x000B_Ethics as a form of attentiveness to the other, especially in the context of poverty, deprivation, and the corrosion of everyday life appears in several of the essays. They take up the classic themes of kinship and obligation but give them entirely new meaning. _x000B__x000B_An important question animating the volume is: What is the picture of thought in anthropological knowledge? Das’s concerns with the philosophy of the everyday and her efforts to make philosophical reasoning responsive to those for whom everyday life must be secured against the precarious conditions of their existence, resonate in several essays. _x000B__x000B_Finally, anthropology’s affinities with the literary are reflected in a final set of essays that show how forms of knowing in art and in anthropology are related through work with painters, performance artists, and writers._x000B_

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Writings on Medicine

Georges Canguilhem

At the time of his death in 1995, Georges Canguilhem was a highly respected historian of science and medicine, whose engagement with questions of normality, the ideologization of scientific thought, and the conceptual history of biology had marked the thought of philosophers such as Michel Foucault, Louis Althusser, Pierre Bourdieu, and Gilles Deleuze. This collection of short, incisive, and highly accessible essays on the major concepts of modern medicine shows Canguilhem at the peak of his use of historical practice for philosophical engagement. In order to elaborate a philosophy of medicine, Canguilhem examines paramount problems such as the definition and uses of health, the decline of the Hippocratic understanding of nature, the experience of disease, the limits of psychology in medicine, myths and realities of therapeutic practices, the difference between cure and healing, the organism's self-regulation, and medical metaphors linking the organism to society. Writings on Medicine is at once an excellent introduction to Canguilhem's work and a forceful, insightful, and accessible engagement with elemental concepts in medicine. The book is certain to leave its imprint on anthropology, history, philosophy, bioethics, and the social studies of medicine.

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