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Accepted Paper:

The meaning of "care" in palliative care  
Alessandro Gusman (University of Turin)

Paper short abstract:

What is the meaning of "care" in palliative care? The paper explores this question starting from the everyday tensions between an ideal of "good care" and the expectations of patients and families. It reflects on an anthropolgy of care that expands to include non-mainstream ideas/ideals of care.

Paper long abstract:

What is the meaning of "care" in the context of palliative care? A widespread social representation overlaps the idea of "care" with that of "cure" (or, even, with "healing"). In this view, healthcare that does not heal is not "true care". However, in the philosophy and daily practices of palliative care units, this popular idea of care does not apply; here, care is related to the ideal of an "ethics of good death" (Castra 2003). From this perspective, caring the patient means to provide her and her loved ones a comfortable environment of life in her last weeks/months, and to create the conditions for a "dignified" death.

This ideal of good care in palliative care is at least in part alternative to the view of other - and more mainstream - branches of biomedicine. It rather looks more close to the "ethics of care" (Held 2006; Mol 2008) and to anthropological representations of care as a fundamental experience for the human being, and as a moral experience (Kleinman 2012; Aulino 2016).

Based on fieldwork in several contexts of palliative care (units, hospices, and home care services) in Piedmont (Italy), this paper proposes directions for an anthropology of care rooted in the observation of the distance between the ideal of good care expressed by doctors and nurses in these contexts, and the everyday tensions that are created in their relationships with patients and their families.

Panel P111
Towards a comparative anthropology of care [PechaKucha/Lightning Talks] [Age and Generations network]
  Session 1 Friday 24 July, 2020, -