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Book Review: Making Sense of Self–harm: The Cultural Meaning and Social Context of Nonsuicidal Self–injury

In Making Sense of Self-harm: The Cultural Meaning and Social Context of Nonsuicidal Self-injury, Dr. Peter Steggals slowly and carefully circles around self-harm as a social construct. His book gathers up the underlying meanings and contradictions inherent in the practice and inspects them in turn. He makes a case that self-harm as we see it […]

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Book Review: Indigenous Medicine among the Bedouin in the Middle East

The book’s title reveals its content: a detailed description of beliefs and practices associated with traditional healing among the Bedouin of the Middle East in general and more specifically in Israel. Aref Abu-Rabia provides us with rich knowledge that rests on a wide- ranging literature dealing with Islam and the history of the Bedouins of […]

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Book Review: The Experiment Must Continue: Medical Research and Ethics in East Africa, 1940–2014

The Experiment Must Continue is a historical study of medical research projects in East Africa, examining the ethics of medical trials conducted by foreign scientists. The book focuses especially on research in the late colonial period, examining an interrelated set of medical experiments in the 1950s and 1960s, but also expands its comparative scope to […]

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Book Review: Valuing Deaf Worlds in Urban India

Valuing Deaf Worlds in Urban India is a welcome addition to the still-sparse but growing cross-cultural collection of ethnographies addressing deafness and sign languages. Friedner’s well-organized, very readable account draws on several years of participant-observer fieldwork in India (2005–2014), especially Bangalore, addressing three primary questions: (1) how might deaf people have unique opportunities and aspirations […]

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Book Review: Nighttime Breastfeeding: An American Cultural Dilemma

Tomori’s title focuses our attention on a seemingly mundane practice, nighttime breastfeeding, that plunges middle-class U.S. parents into a minefield of contradictory cultural expectations and values. New parents, mothers in particular, are urged to breastfeed their children to secure potential health and developmental benefits, but circumstances that support successful breastfeeding, such as co-sleeping and breastfeeding […]

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Book Review: The Impotence Epidemic: Men’s Medicine and Sexual Desire in Contemporary China

This book, revised from the author’s Ph.D. dissertation, is an ethnography of sexual impotence in urban China in the 1990s and 2000s. Focusing on two major cities, Beijing and Chengdu, Zhang draws on observations of and interviews with 350 subjects who were diagnosed with problems related to impotence and their partners. Throughout the book, Zhang […]

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Book Review: Trapped in the Gap: Doing Good in Indigenous Australia

In Australia, the poorer health of Australia’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples when compared to the non-Indigenous people is not a secret. Indigenous and non-Indigenous health bodies, non-government, and human rights organizations in Australia have collaborated to work toward achieving health and life expectation equality for Indigenous (Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander) Australians. This […]

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Book Review: Neither Donkey nor Horse: Medicine in the Struggle of China’s Modernity

In Neither Donkey nor Horse: Medicine in the Struggle of China’s Modernity, the historian Sean Hsiang-lin Lei offers an intriguing account of the political, institutional, and epistemological struggle and syncretism through which a new crossbred “species” of traditional Chinese medicine—zazhongyi, which the author translates as “mongrel Chinese medicine”—acquired a distinctive professional identity in the first […]

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Book Review: Genetic Geographies: The Trouble with Ancestry

Population genetics and genetic anthropology have recently become two of the highest profile areas of science. In the post-genomic era, this formerly largely academic domain has turned out to be, on the one hand, instrumental for medical genetics research and, on the other, to be a highly charismatic science amenable to public consumption through dozens […]

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Book Review: Possessing Spirits and Healing Selves: Embodiment and Transformation in an Afro-Brazilian Religion

This is an unconventional book based on Seligman’s innovative doctoral study of the psychophysiology of trance mediumship in Candomblé, an ecstatic Afro-Brazilian religious tradition. Though it is ethnographically based, it is not quite an ethnography, per se. The author is almost singularly focused on accounting for and explaining the phenomenon of what many refer to […]

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