Thursday, June 19, 2014

Abstract 2014 Emilija Zabiliute

Emilija Zabiliute, Centre for Global South Asian Studies, University of Copenhagen


Affective clinic and bodies in transition: A Primary Healthcare Centre in the Vicinity of the Sanjay Camp

This paper examines the ways in which the category of urban poor women is constructed in a governmental primary healthcare programme in Delhi, India, and the ways in which the women navigate the attempts to control, discipline and appropriate their bodies. Lack of infrastructure, economic resources and gender inequality facilitate the everyday violence and the inadequate health of the urban poor women. As most of the India’s urban poor live in precarious illegal settlements, their bodies become the targets not only of displacement, but also various health interventions that are designed ‘specially’ for the poor. Thus, some governmental programmes target only specific women’s health issues and are crucial in constructing the poor as a social group within the national and global discourse of development (Gupta 2012). The making of the category of the urban poor women is a process that is ongoing essentially through health interventions, which brings the question of the body into the focus. This paper is based on a fieldwork in an illegal settlement in the suburbs of New Delhi and its adjacent primary healthcare centre ran by the National Rural Health Mission, a programme designed for rural women and adapted for the urban poor. The paper uses reproductive health interventions like sterilization operations as a case to illustrate the ways in which the programme deals with women’s body and separates it from the ‘social’. Medical anthropologists have for a long attempted to address the body as social and avoid the Cartesian dualisms (Scheper-Hughes and Lock 1987). The Paper’s departure point is that health problems are integral with the everyday life of the urban poor and it is therefore problematic to separate the health issues from the social and structural problems of poverty and inequality. Bodies of the urban poor women here become fragmented and split between medical, family and individual realms. The paper also deals with women’s everyday negotiations of this fragmenting process and their undertake of sterilization operations as a way of asserting the integrity of their body.


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