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Accepted Paper:

"Why should I trust you?" The changing politics of care and vulnerability in an Italian Emergency Room (ER)  


Mirko Pasquini (Uppsala University)

Paper short abstract:

Which new geographies of fear, worry and mistrust weave actors participating to care? To address this question my research examines the practices that determine urgency (triage) within an ER in northern Italy from the perspectives of both patients and medical staff.

Paper long abstract:

Ahmad finds himself waiting in the ER for the second time in two days, to address an unresolved face paralysis, that started while he was sleeping out in the mid-January cold. Evicted and denied social aid due to racial discrimination, he feels trapped, as he is not able to look for job, lacking clean clothes and secure shelter. Hoping for a hospital bed where to finally rest, he seats still in the ER.

Struggling to keep pace with epidemiological changes and neoliberal austerity measures, the ERs in Italy ended up absorbing the flare-ups of the increasingly chronic people's vulnerabilities. Challenging ER's understanding of urgency, people run into the ER to cope with life necessities, whose recognition is denied elsewhere. Clashing agendas of priority making intertwine in the space of the ER as staff is compact to state that people's trust in public healthcare has increasingly vanquished. Skyrocketing since the turn of the century, accountability measures, assembly line guidelines, marathon long waits for examinations and mazy bureaucracy did not improve the picture. So, which geographies of fear, worry and mistrust weave actors participating to care? Which kind of changing body politics do they enact and how do they impact the healthcare service? Addressing the different vulnerabilities patients and providers face amid care efforts, this paper will ask: how to contextually tinker and readapt what "to care for" and "how to do it" amid a general outspread of suspect?

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