Coexistence and difference in a medical convention
Theodoros Kyriakides (University of Cyprus)
Paper short abstract:
I begin by briefly providing some information on thalassaemia. I then describe my experience in a thalassaemia conference which took place in Cyprus last October. I pay particular attention to an encounter I had with a patient. I proceed by connecting my findings to a conceptual discussion of relationality. I conclude by addressing political, organizational and ethnographic ramifications.
Paper long abstract:
Thalassaemia is the most common recessive blood disorder worldwide, and has especially high prevalence in countries around the Mediterranean basin. Traditional understandings of biosociality favour collectivity, uniformity and commonality over individuality, variation and difference. This paper will side with the latter triplet by asserting that each thalassaemia patient is implicated in a unique relational arrangement. In return, such varying relationality overflows to affect aspects of expertise, care and treatment. Since they are differentiated by their relations, then of interest is how individuals, albeit these diverging relational arrangements, socialize and coexist. Making use of ethnographic research conducted in a thalassaemia conference in Cyprus this past October, and matching this with the theoretical insight of Marilyn Strathern and Gilles Deleuze on the partiality and exteriority of relations respectively, I propose a conception of biosociality operating according to the coexistence of multiple varying individual relational arrangements. In analyzing how these differing circumstances interact, I gesture at the tensions such processes of socialization create: tensions between the collective and the individual, between multiplicity and singularity, and between that which makes itself visible to the ethnographic eye and that which does not. I conclude by exploring political, organizational and ethnographic deliberations such conceptions of relationality, and by derivation sociality, entertain.
The best of 'Ideas in Movement': papers from the RAI Postgraduate Conference