Bioethics Blogs

In the Journals – November 2015 Part I by Michelle Pentecost

Here’s comes the first round of what you’ll find ‘In the Journals’ from November. Apart from the listings below, also see the Somatosphere post on a Special Issue in Theory, Culture and Society on Transdisciplinary Problematics, which you’ll find here.


Medical Anthropology

Skillful Revelation: Local Healers, Rationalists, and Their ‘Trickery’ in Chhattisgarh, Central India

Helen Mary McDonald

To understand the workings of medicine, healing, placebo, belief, and rationality, medical anthropologists need to pay attention to the complex relations of various forms of revelation, contemplation, and rejoining revelation that attach to illness and healing. In this article two performances of a healing technique located in the agricultural plain of Chhattisgarh, central India, are compared: one representing scientific rationality; the other ‘blind’ superstition. In both performances the practitioner’s aim is to reveal: the local healer reveals witchcraft objects from the afflicted body; the local rationalist society reveals the healer’s technique as a fraudulent trick. Each performance shares ‘an aesthetics of revelation’—they rely on seeing or revealing to obtain their social effect. The interplay between forms of revelation, a reliance on aesthetics for the revelation, and the ways of seeing can indicate how distinctions are made (or not) between doctor and quack, expertise and gimmickry, and truth and falsehood.


Suicide and the ‘Poison Complex’: Toxic Relationalities, Child Development, and the Sri Lankan Self-Harm Epidemic

Tom Widger

Suicide prevention efforts in Asia have increasingly turned to ‘quick win’ means restriction, while more complicated cognitive restriction and psychosocial programs are limited. This article argues the development of cognitive restriction programs requires greater consideration of suicide methods as social practices, and of how suicide cognitive schemata form.

The views, opinions and positions expressed by these authors and blogs are theirs and do not necessarily represent that of the Bioethics Research Library and Kennedy Institute of Ethics or Georgetown University.