This panel explores intimacy as an analytical concept in the anthropology of health care.
Incorporating concepts like kinship, love, sexuality, friendship, care, and reproductive labour, intimacy denotes relationship forms that are commonly seen as private, personal, and properly outside politics and the state. Scholars of governmentality and contemporary liberalism have, however, used the concept of intimacy—namely, "proximate, close relations: local, microlevel, private, embodied, involving the psyche"—in order to examine "relational life" in an open-ended way, including in terms of state-citizen exchanges (Wilson 2016). Public or private health care can be productively examined as a site of intimacy, wherein the state and individuals may be brought into embodied, intimate, or affective relation with one another. Conversely, this panel will also examine moments when failed or reduced intimacy is crucial to enacting care or even understood as a moral virtue by the state, health professionals and patients. We invite ethnographically-grounded papers that investigate health services, medical care, and the state using intimacy as an analytical lens. This panel is sponsored by the Society for Medical Anthropology in Aotearoa (SOMAA). All are welcome to submit abstracts.