Accepted Paper:

Preventing their ills: an ethnographic study on vaccination in a multi-ethnic context  
Mohammed Tabishat (American University in Cairo)

Paper short abstract:

Ethnographic study, subjective views on vaccination by parents of diverse ethnic backgrounds. Focus is on the notion of disorder as both a physical and socio-political category within post-colonial contexts and globalized systems of hegemonic meanings.

Paper long abstract:

This paper is an ethnographic study based on fieldwork in an international school in Cairo. It is concerned with issues of subjectivity and vaccination within contexts of globalized discourses of health care. The data consist of observations, participation and detailed narratives collected in open-ended interviews with mothers and fathers of the pupils who come diverse national/ethnic/religious backgrounds. The ethnographic questions focus on how different subjects live with the idea and practice of vaccination. The aim is to examine how the respondents describe vaccination in terms that escape the divide between the rational and emotional. I aim at exploring the various ways these subjects speak, feel and remember the time when they received vaccination. Meanwhile, I focus on their feelings and thoughts regarding the immunization of their own children. Next, this study situates these descriptions within supposedly globalized/universalized discourses of working for the good of the people by "preventing their ills." Then it examines the results in terms of four theoretical claims suggested by Byron Good for the study of the relationship between subjectivity, the post-colonial and the notion of disorder. Finally, it raises methodological questions regarding the significance of conventional ethnographic data as opposed to issues that are "unspeakable" or "unspoken."

Panel P087
The politics of vaccination: affect, rationality and power