Accepted Paper:

Praying and writing: coming unstuck from diabetes and depression in indigenous modernity  

Author:

Cora Bender (University of Siegen)

Paper short abstract:

The paper looks at the role of depression in my research on diabetes in a Wisconsin Ojibwe community by reconstructing how depression seeped into my fieldwork and how my Ojibwe research partners and I finally came unstuck by engaging in techniques of contemplative communication: Praying and writing.

Paper long abstract:

Diabetes is one of the most common serious diseases of certain groups in the United States, including many American Indian peoples. Over the past 50 years, the incidence of diabetes in some Native communities has grown to epidemic proportions. In Wisconsin, American Indians have the highest diabetes rates of all population groups, including African Americans and Hispanics. Medically speaking, diabetes mellitus is a chronic disorder characterized by abnormalities in the metabolism of all body fuels. Nutristionists and other medical professionalists recommend that diabetes patients live an active life, engage in sports and diversify their nutrition. One of the most prevalent side effects of the disease, however, is depression which in many cases goes unnoticed by medical providers and even the patients themselves. Modern indigenous health providers are currently beginning to address the problem, seeking culturally appropriate ways to stop the looping effects of diabetes and depression. This paper looks at the issue from an anthropological point of view. It deals with the role of depression in my ethnographic research project on diabetes in a Wisconsin Ojibwe community. It explores the various aspects of depression I encountered during my research by reconstructing how depression seeped into my field work and eventually almost brought it to a halt. The main focus of the paper, however, is on how my Ojibwe research partners and I finally came unstuck by engaging in different yet similar techniques of contemplative communication: Praying and writing.

Panel W092
Anthropological writing in a time of uncertainty: career, control and creativity