Second Spear RSS feed for this section

An MAQ Origin Story…

At the 2019 AAA meetings in Vancouver, SMA announced and awarded its first ever Hazel Weidman Award for Exemplary Service to the Society for Medical Anthropology, and the inaugural recipient was Alan Harwood. The introduction for the award delivered by then President Arachu Castro, and the acceptance speech by Professor Emeritus Harwood collectively offer a […]

Continue Reading ·
boring things

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.” Often times such “boring” objects like paperwork, tax returns, standards, plugs, and labels are […]

Continue Reading ·

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 ( 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 […]

Continue Reading ·

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 […]

Continue Reading ·

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 […]

Continue Reading ·

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 […]

Continue Reading ·

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 […]

Continue Reading ·

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 […]

Continue Reading ·
Fukuda 2

Special Series: Sensorial Engagements with a Toxic World

Curated by Chisato Fukuda, University of Wisconsin-Madison We dwell in an atmosphere of uncertainty. From visible ambient matters like smog to odorless contaminants from radiation, toxic conditions force us to continually adapt to, resist, and make sense of the spaces we inhabit. Bodies are exposed to an array of materials, from particulates, chemicals, and pathogens that […]

Continue Reading ·

Introducing Second Spear

“As a matter of fact Zande thought expresses the notion of natural and mystical causation quite clearly by using a hunting metaphor to define their relations. Azande always say of witchcraft that it is the umbaga or second spear. When Azande kill game there is a division of meat between the man who first speared […]

Continue Reading ·