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Accepted Paper:

Bend so as not to break: disrupting biomedical technique to fully deploy biomedical discourse among ophthalmologists  
Juan del Nido (University of Cambridge)

Paper short abstract:

This paper examines the paradox of doctors disrupting biomedical techniques of examination and harnessing embodied and intuitive forms of authoritative knowledge in order to diagnose and map out conditions within those very biomedical classifications.

Paper long abstract:

Once a year since 2013, taxi drivers in the City of Buenos Aires, Argentina, undergo a series of clinical tests managed by the taxi drivers' union with explicit governmental support, aimed at "professionalising" the trade and tending to drivers' health, road safety and a perpetual betterment of circulation in Buenos Aires at large. These tests are carried out by road safety technicians, lawyers and doctors of different specialisations, all of which act as bureaucrats in the imbricated and interlinked processes designed to "conduct taxi drivers' conduct".

Based on ethnographic fieldwork among the ophthalmologists in charge of visual acuity examinations, in this paper I analyse how doctors (de)activated biomedical knowledge and bureaucratic practices at the time of deciding whether to extend or withhold drivers' permits. In a discipline as scripted and streamlined as contemporary Western medicine, these doctors often disrupted and reorganised the techno-clinical order of administration of a given examination in order to break through both patients' nervousness and bureaucratic unyieldingness and fully determine, beyond technicalities, whether the patient could see or not and how. Neither entirely pity nor amoral "technocratism", I show how the ethics of care and an embodied, intuitive knowledge which they accounted for on the basis of social, clinical and bureaucratic experience, articulated the application of both bureaucratic and medical policies onto taxi drivers' bodies and their possibilities to move or not.

Panel P081
Mobilising policies: indolence, zealousness, discretionality and beyond [ANTHROMOB]
  Session 1 Thursday 16 August, 2018, -