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Book Review: Best Laid Plans: Cultural Entropy and the Unraveling of AIDS Media Campaigns

Terence McDonnell offers a biographic cartography of the carefully planned and expensive HIV/AIDS campaigns in Accra, Ghana, revealing the disorder and distortion that often occurs when well-intentioned media communications are released to the public. The concept of “cultural entropy” is presented to describe the process through which the energy invested in cultural objects, in this […]

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Book Review Essay: Achieving Procreation: Childlessness and IVF in Turkey/Cosmopolitan Conceptions: IVF Sojourns in Global Dubai

Late in the summer, I arrive early to a dinner with a friend and pull out Marcia Inhorn’s Cosmopolitan Conceptions as I wait. As usual, I am riveted by her ambitious ethnography. Always in awe, I am struck by her dogged determination to gather hundreds of “reprotravel” stories. Inhorn never shies away from difficult subjects, […]

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Book Review: Anthropologies of Cancer in Transnational Worlds

In Anthropologies of Cancer in Transnational Worlds, the contributors offer readers windows into the worlds of patients, caregivers, health care providers, and researchers grappling with cancer in a variety of countries and contexts. From rural villages to genetic testing centers to hospice programs, the essays explore intimate human themes of meaning-making and sociality associated with […]

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Book Review: A Nervous State: Violence, Remedies, and Reverie in Colonial Congo

Nancy Rose Hunt’s dense and stimulating book continues her exploration of interpretive challenges posed by Congolese forest worlds to medically and anthropologically minded historians. Hunt here focuses on southern Equateur in the Belgian Congo from the 1900s to the 1950s, from the wake of King Leopold’s Free State, with its red rubber atrocities, to the […]

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Book Review: Fertility Holidays: IVF Tourism and the Reproduction of Whiteness

Fertility Holidays is an ethnographic monograph about the motivations, expectations, and gendered experiences of the growing number of lower middle-class Northern Americans who struggle with infertility and its unaffordably high treatment prices at home and travel to the Czech Republic for IVF treatment. Known for its low-cost prices, empathetic health care, and availability of white […]

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Book Review: Toxic Safety: Flame Retardants, Chemical Controversies, and Environmental Health

In Toxic Safety, sociologist Alissa Cordner takes readers into the highly contested arena of environmental health politics in United States. Cordner uses recent controversies surrounding the safety of flame retardants as an entry point for examining the complex and dynamic process of evaluating and regulating chemicals in the United States. As Cordner shows, this is […]

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Book Review: Holding On: African American Women Surviving HIV/AIDS

This critical ethnography presents different life experiences and survival strategies exhibited by 40 HIV-positive African American women living in Midway, North Carolina. Deploying the methods of participant observation and in-depth interviewing, the author highlights the heterogeneity of survival practices that participants implement in the context of HIV policy changes. The book explains the evolution of […]

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Book Review: Smokefree: A Social, Moral and Political Atmosphere.

Largely understudied until the turn of the 21st century, an anthropology of smoking has erged in a context dominated by scientific evidence condemning tobacco’s devastating effects on health and government projects promoting cessation. In recent years, social and cultural explanations for smoking behaviors have become valuable currency (in terms of research grants, etc.)—an offer that […]

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Book Review: Planning Families in Nepal

In Planning Families in Nepal, Jan Brunson offers her readers an insightful and beautifully written account of how family planning decisions are made and preferences are formed among Hindu Nepali women. Drawing from over a decade of fieldwork among urban and peri-urban women and men, this ethnography adds significantly to the literature on demographic trends […]

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Book Review: Suicide and Agency: Anthropological Perspectives on Self-Destruction, Personhood, and Power

In this volume, Suicide and Agency: Anthropological Perspectives on Self-Destruction, Personhood, and Power, the authors address a tension that has concerned those in the field of suicidology for decades: the opposition between structure and agency. Situated within contemporary and historical debates of suicide and intentionality, the contributors address local conceptions of agency in relation to […]

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