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Table of Contents

Preface 1. Affliction: An Introduction 2. How the Body Speaks 3. A Child Learns Illness and Learns Death 4. Mental Illness, Psychiatric Institutions, and the Singularity of Lives 5. Dangerous Liaisons: Technology, Kinship, and Wild Spirits 6. The Reluctant Healer and the Darkness of our Times 7. Medicines, Markets, and Healing 8. Global Health Discourse and the View from Planet Earth 9. Epilogue Note Bibliography Index

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Affliction: Health, Disease, Poverty inaugurates a novel way of understanding the trajectories of health and disease in the context of poverty. It traces the unfolding of illness within families, local communities, neighborhood markets, and occult worlds. Privileging the experience of people living in these neighborhoods, it asks, How can global health be made to take this experience into account rather than escape from it?

About the Author

Veena Das is Krieger-Eisenhower Professor of Anthropology at the Johns Hopkins University.


"Told with delicacy, vigour and a sharply criticial eye, this compelling account of the everyday events of illness in low income neighborhoods [in Delhi] shows what anthropological attentiveness can do. If its power comes from the evident power of the mind behind it, it also comes from a modestly understated account of how to be both in the company of people and a recorder of affliction. Above all, it is a work of exquisite attention to the incoherences and normalizations that disease makes of family circumstances, medical practices, state provisioning, singular lives, and that these make of it. Socially sensitive and world-alert at the same time, Das's narrative holds the reader in (gripping, edifying) suspense between its different planes. No less perhaps than one would expect from this author, but a model of social science writing all the same." -- -Marilyn Strathern University of Cambridge "Reading Affliction: Health, Disease, Poverty is like observing a master at work. [This is a] formidable piece of scholarship immersed in more than a decade of ethnographic engagement etched in stunningly crafted anthropological prose. This longitudinal immersion in the everyday lives of urban poor produces a tender and intimate account without lapsing into unwitting sentimentality. An ethnographic and theoretical tour de force!" -- -Aditya Bharadwaj The Graduate Institute, Geneva Veena Das offers a complex ethnographic meditation on illness among the urban poor and the diverse kinds of response (practical, methodological, ethical) it invites. As Das so precisely attends to affliction, readers have the privilege of following one of anthropology's most distinctive and distinguished voices." -- -Michael Lambek University of Toronto "...a compelling read that should be of interest to scholars working in medical anthropology, psychological anthropology, and the anthropology of South Asia" -- Leslie Jo Weaver -Anthropology Quarterly "Veena Das' book, 'Affliction: Health, Disease, Poverty' provides an important, ethnographically powerful, laddering of scenes of instructions for us all." -- Michael M.J. Fischer -Somatosphere "Over four decades Veena Das has established herself as one of the most imaginative and sensitive writers to be found in any of the human sciences. In this brilliant book, she attends to the everyday work of care and endurance that makes up the life of the poor in Delhi. As ever, her ear is attuned to the fateful turn of phrase, the pause, the silence. But in this new volume she attends to other voices as well-[not only] the voices of health professionals and economists, struggling to put their understanding of the objective conditions that shape the experience of health and poverty to practical use but also the voices of fellow anthropologists wrestling with the limitations of their theoretical and descriptive language. Affliction is a work of great generosity and no little beauty. It is, if anything even more remarkable than its predecessors in Das's remarkable oeuvre." -- -Jonathan Spencer University of Edinburgh "This is a must read for scholars and researchers who work on matters related to health and illness and for those in the academy who see their research as being inherently applied and interdisciplinary in nature." -SCTIW Review "In this beautiful volume, Veena Das continues her quest into the minor events and enduring suffering, the mundane intensity of the present and remembrance of things past that constitute ordinary human existence, thus opening a novel line of reflection and research in what can be called an anthropology of life." -- -Didier Fassin author of Humanitarian Reason: A Moral History of the Present

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