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Transfigurations of Health and the Moral Economy of Medicine: Subjectivities, Materialities, Values

Type of publication Peer-reviewed
Publikationsform Original article (peer-reviewed)
Author Kehr Janina, Dilger Hansjörg, Eeuwijk von Peter,
Project Austerity Medicine. Precarious Healthcare in Contemporary Spain
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Original article (peer-reviewed)

Journal Zeitschrift für Ethnologie
Volume (Issue) 143(18)
Page(s) 1 - 20
Title of proceedings Zeitschrift für Ethnologie


Abstract. This special issue explores the deep entanglements between medicine, law, politics, morality and economy in the contemporary world order and asks how these entwinements shape illness experiences and forms of treatment and care in the varying locations of Egypt, Tanzania, Brazil and India. By introducing the concept of ‘transfiguration’, we highlight the highly ambiguous, ever-evolving and increasingly transnational character of these processes in the vastly contested and power-ridden fields of medicine and wellbeing. We also argue that a moral economy approach can figure as a lens to disentangle and disaggregate these different fields’ values and practices analytically and to account for the need to reflect systematically on people’s struggles for a ‘good life’ in the context of profit-driven and often highly exclusionary economies and their impacts on health care systems. Against this background, the contributions to this special issue ask, through a shared theoretical concern, how medicine, illness experience and medical knowledge production coalesce under the condition of ‘excessive’ economies in relation to subjectivities, materialities and values. In conclusion, we ask which ethical and political demands arise for anthropologists as novel, strongly politicised and morally loaded fields of research open up; and how we can respond to the challenges of doing research in the capital-intensive fields of medicine and health and act accordingly in our investigations and writings.