SFAA panel, Portland

Added on by Jessica Hardin.

For the 2019 SFAA meetings, I organized a panel, titled: “Presumed Utility: Translating and Unpacking Applied Lexicons” (see below). Emily Yates-Doerr, Sarah Trainer (with Alex Brewis and Cindi SturtzSreetharan), Jenna Grant, Lesley Jo Weaver (with Purina Madhivanan and Karl Krupp) and Betsy Brada will all give papers. Hanna Garth and I will present a paper titled, "On the Limitations of Barriers: Social Visibility andWeight Managementin Cuba and Samoa" (abstract below).

Panel abstract: Medical anthropology is often presumed to have a utility —to make anthropology relevant to the world through discoveries in health, medicine, and healthcare. This presumption suggests that collaboration or knowledge translation is a straight forward process, from one discipline to the next with a steady lexicon. Barriers, risk, collaboration are all thought to be self-evident objects or practices. Teaching medical anthropology in health professions education is also widely thought to be a new necessary for diverse professional tracks. Yet, as medical anthropologists, we spend little time questioning how the presumption of a shared language may hinder communication in some ways and grow opportunities in other directions. The panel draws together applied anthropologist, biological anthropologists, and medical anthropologists, to explore the presumed utility of cultural accounts of health. The panel explores the medicalization embedded in this process (see Browner 1999), while also exploring instances when lexicons converge in places ranging from (but not limited to) the United States, Samoa, Guatemala and Cambodia. Ultimately, the panel explores the value of more explicit articulation of this process of translation as providing a place for critical accounts and practice-oriented research to find points of connection.

Paper abstract: Obesity is growing global health challenge. Research on obesity reduction has focused on barriers, erroneously assuming that the removal of barriers would lead to obesity reduction. Using a comparative ethnographic approach between Cuba and Samoa, we move away from barriers to analyze obesity and overweight through the lens of social consequencesas a way to understand the persistent failure of obesity interventions. Comparing these two places with very different histories of obesity interventions, we trace how overweight and obesity make people socially visible, specifically analyzing how gender and economic inequalities shape the sociality of obesity.