By Alice Street
Biomedicine in an risky position is the tale of people's fight to make biomedicine paintings in a public sanatorium in Papua New Guinea. it's a tale encompassing the heritage of medical institution infrastructures as websites of colonial and postcolonial governance, the simultaneous creation of Papua New Guinea as a domain of worldwide clinical learn and public healthiness, and people's encounters with city associations and biomedical applied sciences. In Papua New Guinea, a century of kingdom construction has weakened already insufficient colonial infrastructures, and other people adventure the health facility as an area of institutional, clinical, and ontological instability.
In the hospital's clinics, biomedical practitioners fight amid serious source shortages to make the diseased physique noticeable and knowable to the medical gaze. That fight is entangled with makes an attempt by means of medical professionals, nurses, and sufferers to make themselves seen to exterior others—to relations, medical specialists, international scientists, politicians, and foreign improvement workers—as socially recognizable and invaluable people. the following health facility infrastructures grow to be relational applied sciences which are essentially fragile but additionally provide an important possibilities for making humans obvious and knowable in new, unpredictable, and strong methods.
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Extra info for Biomedicine in an Unstable Place: Infrastructure and Personhood in a Papua New Guinean Hospital
Indeed Strathern’s comparison between personhood in Melanesia and Euro-America was intended to highlight the possibility of alternative ways of conceiving of personhood and agency that do not take the biological individual as the ontological ground for socialization. In their given state, Strathern argued, Melanesian persons do not exist as biologically differentiated and gendered individuals but as microcosms of the multiple relationships that have conceived and grown them. It is only when a person engages in acts of exchange and elicits a response from other persons that their other relationships are eclipsed, and they are revealed as a particular kind of (gendered) person within that singular relationship.
How is biomedical uncertainty negotiated by the hospital’s patients? Chapter 5, “The Waiting Place,” brings us back to the questions raised in the book’s Prologue and what is at stake for those who subject themselves to a biomedical gaze in the hospital. It follows the experience of one patient as he moves through the hospital and describes his experience of the institution as a place of invisibility where he is caught between the social worlds of kinship and biomedicine, village and town. His inability to operate in either is experienced in the material deterioration of his body.
31 It is in the processes by which aesthetic conventions are determined and normalized that anthropologists tend to locate power relations. Uncovering power is a process of uncovering the artifice that goes into the construction of our conceptual categories; hence Foucault’s exploration of what “governs statements, and the way in which they govern each other so as to constitute a set of propositions which are scientifically acceptable, and hence capable of being verified or falsified by scientific procedures” (2003, 112).
Biomedicine in an Unstable Place: Infrastructure and Personhood in a Papua New Guinean Hospital by Alice Street