Here is the first part of our December article roundup. Three journals have special issues this month (abstracts in the post below):
- Body and Society: The New Biologies: Epigenetics, the Microbiome and Immunities
- Ethos: Anthropology and Psychoanalysis
- Medical Anthropology Quarterly: Special Focus Section on Comorbidity
Enjoy reading (and what’s left of the holidays)!
Betsey Behr Brada
One consequence of the recent expansion of anthropological interest in humanitarianism is the seeming obviousness and conceptual stability of “humanitarianism” itself. In this article, I argue that, rather than being a stable concept and easily recognizable phenomenon, humanitarianism only becomes apparent in relation to other categories. In short, humanitarianism is contingent: it depends on circumstance and varies from one context to another. Furthermore, its perceptibility rests on individuals’ capacity to mobilize categorical similarities and distinctions. One cannot call a thing or person “humanitarian” without denying the humanitarian character of someone or something else. Drawing on research conducted in clinical spaces where Botswana’s national HIV treatment program and private US institutions overlapped, I examine the processes by which individuals claimed people, spaces, and practices as humanitarian, the contrasts they drew to make these claims, and the moral positions they attempted to occupy in the process. More than questions of mere terminology, these processes of categorization and contradistinction serve as crucibles for the larger struggles over sovereignty, inequality, and the legacies of colonialism that haunt US-driven global health interventions.
Abortion laws offer a point of entry for “the state” to intervene in intimate clinical matters.