Anthropologies of Cancer in Transnational Worlds: 1st Edition (Paperback) book cover

Anthropologies of Cancer in Transnational Worlds

1st Edition

Edited by Holly F. Mathews, Nancy J. Burke, Eirini Kampriani


270 pages

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*Open Access content has been made available under a Creative Commons Attribution-Non Commercial-No Derivatives (CC-BY-NC-ND) license

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Cancer is a transnational condition involving the unprecedented flow of health information, technologies, and people across national borders. Such movement raises questions about the nature of therapeutic citizenship, how and where structurally vulnerable populations obtain care, and the political geography of blame associated with this disease. This volume brings together cutting-edge anthropological research carried out across North and South America, Europe, Africa and Asia, representing low-, middle- and high-resource countries with a diversity of national health care systems. Contributors ethnographically map the varied nature of cancer experiences and articulate the multiplicity of meanings that survivorship, risk, charity and care entail. They explore institutional frameworks shaping local responses to cancer and underlying political forces and structural variables that frame individual experiences. Of particular concern is the need to interrogate underlying assumptions of research designs that may lead to the naturalizing of hidden agendas or intentions. Running throughout the chapters, moreover, are considerations of moral and ethical issues related to cancer treatment and research. Thematic emphases include the importance of local biologies in the framing of cancer diagnosis and treatment protocols, uncertainty and ambiguity in definitions of biosociality, shifting definitions of patienthood, and the sociality of care and support.

Chapter 3 of this book is freely available as a downloadable Open Access PDF at It has been made available under a Creative Commons Attribution-Non Commercial-No Derivatives 3.0 license.

Table of Contents

Foreword: The Emperor of All Terrors: Forging an Alternative Biography of Cancer Anastasia Karakasidou. Acknowledgments. Introduction: Mapping the Landscape of Transnational Cancer Ethnography Holly F. Mathews and Nancy J. Burke Part I: Structural Matters: Technologies of Disease, Risk, and Management 1. The Ambiguity of Blame and the Multiple Careers of Cancer Etiologies in Rural China Anna Lora-Wainwright 2. The Psychogenesis of Cancer in France: Controlling Uncertainty by Searching for Causes Aline Sarradon-Eck 3. Anticipating Prevention: Constituting Clinical Need, Rights and Resources in Brazilian Cancer Genetics Sahra Gibbon 4. Managing Borders, Bodies and Cancer: Documents and the Creation of Subjects Julie S. Armin 5. Filipina, Survivor, or Both?: Negotiating Biosociality and Ethnicity in the Context of Scarcity Nancy J. Burke 6. Revealing Hope in Urban India: Vision and Survivorship Among Breast Cancer Charity Volunteers Alison MacDonald Part II: Cancer and the Sociality of Care: Intimacy, Support, and Collective Burden-Sharing 7. Love in the Time of Cancer: Kinship, Memory, Migration and Other Logics of Care in Kerala, India Kristen Bright 8. Cancer Crisis and Treatment Ambiguity in Kenya Benson A. Mulemi 9. From Part to Whole: Gender Roles and Health Practices in the Experience of Breast Cancer in Northeast Brazil Waleska de Araújo Aureliano 10. “As God Is My Witness…”: What Is Said, What Is Silenced in Informal Cancer Caregivers’ Narratives Natalia Luxardo 11. Suffering in Local Worlds: Oncological Discourses, Cancer and Infertility in Puerto Rico Karen E. Dyer 12. Dying to Be Heard: Cancer, Imagined Experience and the Moral Geographies of Care in the UK Fiona M. Harris Afterword: Cancer Enigmas and Agendas Lenore Manderson

About the Editors

Holly F. Mathews is Professor of Anthropology at East Carolina University.

Nancy J. Burke is an Associate Professor in the Department of Anthropology, History and Social Medicine and the Helen Diller Comprehensive Cancer Center at the University of California, San Francisco.

Eirini Kampriani is adjunct lecturer at IST/University of Hertfordshire and the National School of Public Health, Greece.

About the Series

Routledge Studies in Anthropology

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Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
SOCIAL SCIENCE / Anthropology / General
SOCIAL SCIENCE / Anthropology / Cultural
SOCIAL SCIENCE / Anthropology / Physical
SOCIAL SCIENCE / Disease & Health Issues