For September 2016, Charlotte Brives, Frédéric Le Marcis, and Emilia Sanabria edited a special issue of Medical Anthropology titled “The Politics and Practices of Evidence in Global Health.” Evidence-based medicine (EBM), the authors write in their Introduction, is pervasive among contemporary practices of governance. The articles in this special issue provide ethnographic perspectives on the practice and production of evidence-based medicine across the world.
Here are the abstracts!
What’s in a Context? Tenses and Tensions in Evidence-Based Medicine
Charlotte Brives, Frédéric Le Marcis & Emilia Sanabria
In this special issue, we bring together articles that engage ethnographically with practices of EBM in diverse localities—a bariatric surgery ward in Vienna, a tuberculosis control unit on the periphery of Paris, the practices of child psychiatrists in Portugal, the board meetings of a global vaccine venture and its implementation in Burkina Faso, and at the intersections of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) treatment, hunger, and nutrition in Southern Africa. Our aim is to engage with EBM not as an ideal type, everywhere the same, but rather to engage pragmatically with the translations, negotiations, adaptations, failures, and successes of its deployment on the ground.
Through an ethnographic exploration of tuberculosis control in one of France’s poorest regions, Seine-Saint-Denis, I interrogate the relationships between public health planning and interventions in conditions of multiple precarity. I show that the encounter between the feasible and the fantastic in the realm of public health generates feelings of absurdity and futility among medical professionals, characteristic of disease control in the precarious present.