Oral Presentation Session - Cosponsored Status Awarded
Sponsored by: Society for Medical Anthropology
Cosponsored by: Society for the Anthropology of Food and Nutrition
Of interest to: Practicing and Applied Anthropologists
Primary Theme: Health
Secondary Theme: Materiality
At the intersection of the study of food, nutrition, and medicine, this panel examines how “good” care is reflected and evaluated by community members and health care professionals through embodied social experiences. Anthropology's engagement with embodiment offers a reminder to the discipline that experience is materially grounded; humans create culture through and with their bodies. We revisit this to ask how change is tracked by people through their bodies and the materials that mediate bodies such as food, medication, or other substances consumed to promote health. We explore how embodied experiences reflect patterns of resistance, resilience and adaptation over time, either through the lifecourse, or in relation to shifting political, social, and environmental contexts. As a foundation of social relationships, these embodied critiques inform moral notions of “good” care, “good” clinical encounters, and “good” kinship practices. An abstract concept, the idea of “good” care signals particular practices, institutions, and people while simultaneously indexing embodied experiences of places and feelings. To feel cared for, or to feel one is appropriately caring for the self, references a specific set of practices that articulate moral values. At the intersection of the moral notion of “good” care and the materiality of consuming food and medicine, physical bodies are displayed, critiqued, and evaluated through a variety of social experiences. Bodies then become the sites through which communities, health care workers, and kin evaluate the quality of care the body receives from others and from the self. This panel explores how particular embodied experiences--around eating, sickness, and health---are translated into knowledge, and how this knowledge is used to reflect ideas of health. Papers in this panel address concepts of identity creation through food consumption, fusion foodways, the embodied practice of preparing food and feeding others, embodied motherhood, and mothering with chronic illness. With regional expertise from the Pacific Islands, Africa, Europe, and the Caribbean, the papers presented here place ideas of embodied care in cross-cultural conversation. Bodily signs can serve as evidence of resistance, resilience and adaptation, thus creating an embodied grounding for social critique. We ask how do embodied experiences shape people’s understandings of social change? In what ways are embodied signs, or biomedical symptoms, central to how people articulate social transformation or stasis? How do individuals and communities express their resiliency in the face of external pressures or stressors? What methods are individuals and communities using to adapt to social and/or ecological changes, and how are these experiences expressed in bodily form? Using our anthropological imagination, this set of papers illustrate how individuals and communities are responding to changes in the embodied expression of “good” care.