Accepted paper:

Charting Breast Cancer, Social Justice and Power in the Global North


Mary Anglin (University of Kentucky)

Paper short abstract:

This paper draws upon ethnographic fieldwork in the US to examine breast cancer-related advocacy by and for low income women, recent immigrants, and women of color. The paper focuses on strategies articulated for realizing social justice, as well as physical survival.

Paper long abstract:

This paper draws upon over twenty years of field research in the United States (and, more specifically, California) to develop a comparative analysis of breast cancer-related inequalities and strategic forms of advocacy. Based on recent ethnographic work (2001-2006), the paper examines issues of physical survival, biomedical gate-keeping, involvement in clinical decision-making, and advocacy that are articulated through the narratives of women of color and low-income women of various ethnicities, races, and nationalities. Particular attention is given to women's involvement in community-driven town hall meetings, support groups, and informal networks as interventions against multiple forms of discrimination. Such political and social efforts are compared with the formally organized, predominantly middle class, and Euro-American breast cancer movement of the U.S. The argument is made that, through social justice activities organized "at the margins," women of color and low-income women with breast cancer have forged new public space and redefined public health agendas.

panel G04
Local and global emergence of women's leadership in a changing world (IUAES Commission on the Anthropology of Women)