This panel examines the movement of medical knowledge and practice across geographical borders (e.g. from the Global South to the Global North), or across socio-material boundaries (e.g. from lab to clinic), and how standardization, adaptation and demarcation are produced in these processes.
Medical knowledge and practices frequently move across geographical, socio-material and conceptual boundaries. This includes protocols produced in the 'Global North' used in the 'Global South' or vice versa (i.e. WHO guidelines); new medicines passing through distinct material and regulatory sites (i.e. from labs to trials to markets); and the uploading of personal health data to industry-owned online platforms (i.e. PatientsLikeMe). Medical facts and artifacts traveling across borders (or failing to do so) raise questions about the validity and universality of knowledge and practices. What problems and blockages are encountered during these medical movements? What innovative solutions are mobilized to make medical knowledge and practices travel? How are they transformed in the process? Specifically, we invite papers examining the strategies employed to make knowledge valid in different times, places and contexts. Claims to 'universal' knowledge may rely on particular social practices of standardization (e.g. quantified metrics such as DALY), adaptation (e.g. cultural 'translation' of diagnostic questionnaires), or other strategies. Equally, we invite papers that discuss the construction of boundaries involved in the circulation of medical knowledge, and the political ends towards which this is accomplished. This includes demarcations between local and universal knowledge or cultural and biological domains, and distinct categories of people (e.g. knowledge producers and users; lays and experts; underserved populations). By analyzing these dynamics, this panel aims to contribute to current debates in medical anthropology and global health that relate to the creation of new knowledge, interventions and networks in a globalized but diverse and unequal world.