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Accepted Paper:

Approaching medicine as an affective field: fear, love and politics as structuring processes within the Indonesian healthcare system  


Catherine Smith (Macquarie University)

Paper short abstract:

This paper examines medicine as an ever-shifting affective field that is shaped by socio-political processes that structure healthcare systems, health vulnerabilities, the embodied experience of health and illness, and the possibilities for health justice.

Paper long abstract:

This paper makes a case for examining the culture of medicine as an affective field that is structured by transformations in healthcare systems, socio-political processes that influence health vulnerabilities, shifting imaginings of the 'good life' and the possibilities for health, and the responses that health practitioners themselves bring to these processes. I draw on two contrasting case studies from my ethnographic fieldwork: a) widespread public fear of doctors in the Indonesian province of Aceh; and b) medically-trained midwives in the Special District of Yogyakarta, who are widely respected by the public but under continual scrutiny from authorities. After examining the socio-political processes and health systems issues that have shaped the affective dynamics of these two contrasting case studies, I make a case for an approach to global health anthropology that is aimed at improving health justice through greater awareness of how healthcare systems operate as an affective field that is directly shaped by socio-political histories and structural transformations in health systems.

Panel P182
Moving terrains in care and biomedicine: affective modes and vulnerable positions (MAE)