Northwestern University

Mon 4:00 PM

The Sensory Ethic of Care in Botswana's Cancer Ward

When: Monday, February 4, 2013
4:00 PM - 5:30 PM  

Where: University Hall, Hagstrum Room, 1897 Sheridan Road, Evanston, IL 60208 map it

Audience: Faculty/Staff - Student - Public

Contact: Kate Dargis   847.491.7323

Group: Program of African Studies

Category: Lectures & Meetings

More Info


Sponsored by the Program of African Studies & the Science and Human Culture Colloquium

The Sensory Ethic of Care in Botswana's Cancer Ward

Julie Livingston, History, Rutgers University

This talk examines the moral intimacies of care in a small oncology ward in Botswana during an emerging epidemic of cancer, part of the surge in cancers across the global south. Based on extensive ethnographic research, it follows the nurses on the ward as they provide bodily care, perform spiritual work, and stave off social death for patients experiencing disfiguring rot, and existential angst.  It simultaneously follows the patients and their relatives as they attempt to create a socially and morally meaningful world in the face of cancer in an overwrought and highly bureaucratized institution.  The discussion will pay special attention to the inter-subjective phenomenology of care, and the sensory dimensions of bodily distress and rehumanization. 

Julie Livingston is Associate Professor of History at Rutgers University.  She is the author of a new book, Improvising Medicine in an African Oncology Ward; and also of Debility and the Moral Imagination in Botswana.  Her co-edited works include A Death Retold: Jesica Santillan, the Bungled Transplant, and the Paradoxes of Medical Citizenship; Three Shots at Prevention: The HPV Vaccine and the Politics of Medicine's Simple Solutions; and Interspecies a special issue of the journal Social Text.  She has received numerous awards in support of her research, and in 2010/2011 she was an invited fellow at the Wissenschaftskolleg zu Berlin, where she co-directed a research group on contemporary challenges of clinical practice in Africa. 


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