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The Anthropology of “Boring” Things

Curated by Marieke van Eijk, University of Washington       Stacks of unbillable patient visits. Insurance cards. Medical codes. Telephones. Frequently Asked Questions databases. These objects do not often spike people’s imagination and are easily reduced to being merely “boring.” For many people, they mostly fade into the background, where they hide in plain […]

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Financial Stories of “Boring” Medical Codes

by Marieke van Eijk, University of Washington In her TED talk, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie warns of the Dangers of a Single Story (https://www.ted.com/talks/chimamanda_adichie_the_danger_of_a_single_story/transcript). She talks about her childhood growing up in Nigeria and of Fide, her family’s house boy. Her mother had told her that Fide’s family was poor. When Adichie visited Fide’s village she […]

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The Heavy Boredom of Medical Infrastructure

by Michael Esveldt, University of Washington Life, friends, is boring. We must not say so. After all, the sky flashes, the great sea yearns, we ourselves flash and yearn, and moreover my mother told me as a boy (repeatingly) ‘Ever to confess you’re bored means you have no Inner Resources.’ I conclude now I have […]

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The Voice of the Phone Tree

by Shannon Satterwhite, UCSF San Francisco Fieldnote, Primary Care Clinic, Monday Morning: I am sitting in the nurses’ station, which holds three computers and a printer, as well as cupboards of supplies. The space is narrow and I am only a few feet behind two of the registered nurses who work side by side at […]

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FAQs in the Field: From Boring Objects to Faceless Social Relations

by Robert Frey, Columbia University What is the Defense Base Act (DBA)? This question begins the Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) section of a website about a workers’ compensation insurance program. FAQs are lists of questions and answers that offer readers commonly sought information about one or more topics. The DBA FAQ addresses topics such as […]

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Ngyiampaa Non-Compliance with Boring Medicare Cards

by Daniela Heil, University of Newcastle, Australia   In Australia, public health insurance cards are known as Medicare cards. The name of the public health insurer is Medicare, and both Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal Australians, including permanent Australian residents use and are familiar with the card. Ngyiampaa Aboriginal Australians consider these Medicare cards ‘boring objects’ because […]

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Lissa: A Review

By Parismita Singh                                                   Who is the reader and who the reviewer? A question taken seriously by the graphic novel Lissa.  The reader (or so it seems to the me) is […]

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Things Anthropologists Can Do With Comics

by Stacy Leigh Pigg Comics, says literary scholar Hillary Chute (2011: 112), are “about bodies – about locating them in space and time.” Comics engage the body regardless of their theme, and this kind of engagement inspires the project that is Lissa: A Story about Medical Promise, Friendship, and Revolution. In the book’s Foreword, George […]

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Review – Lissa: A story about medical promise, friendship, and revolution.

by Lochlann Jain For several years I taught course based largely on graphic novels at Stanford – twice in a medical anthropology graduate seminar and once for undergraduates at the Stanford school in Paris (we took a field-trip to the famous international festival for bande dessinee in Angouleme). As teaching devices, graphic novels provide an […]

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Authors’ Response

by Coleman Nye and Sherine Hamdy We are simply thrilled to have Lissa so thoughtfully reviewed by this amazing group of scholar-artists. We want to first thank each of the reviewers for so generously reflecting on this project and for considering it on its own terms. Their responses are more than we could have hoped […]

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