Hyperdiagnostics: postcolonial utopics of race-based biomedicine.
ABSTRACT The expansion of biomedical research into countries outside the United States and Western Europe is positing new biological links between populations based on race. This expansion includes six international projects occurring in Barbados, premised on the idea that the population is genetically representative of other black people. Based on ethnographic research tracking one such study, a genetics of asthma project, this article explores the ways Caribbean meanings of ethnicity and illness are reworked as Barbadian state medical practitioners become involved in facilitating the international genetics research on race and disease. As the state attempts to participate in an imagined future of genetic medicine, the hyperspecificity of genetic technologies create new medical meanings of race and disease. These changes rely on a paradoxical response by medical practitioners toward the high technology American genetic research as both authoritative and inapplicable, creating unexpected etiologies of illness and ethnicity.
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ABSTRACT: Barbados is a center of international genetic research premised on race. Drawing on ethnographic fieldwork following Johns Hopkins studies carried out in Barbados, this article explores this travel for research. This biomedical science relies on a conflicting significance of Barbados: as a site of suffering, due to the disparities of disease, and, conversely, a site of ease, playing on desires and pleasures of escaping too much asceticism in biomedicine. For the American researchers, Barbados becomes a locus of desire to ethically address the African diaspora without the quandaries of accusations and recriminations experienced in carrying out such work in urban America. The concept of cathartic science is used to describe an endeavor that creates a controlled space to know and act on some perceived sufferer without risk of being complicit in the suffering. These medical migrations of researchers to Barbados are paralleled by Bajan families participating in the American studies as a kind of proxy medical migration to the US, bitterly reflecting on the care available to them at home. This article explores the motives of this mutual travel, as a biomedicalized Barbados becomes a spectral figure for patients and researchers fraught with race, injustice, and desire. The article extends the concept of cathartic science from genomics of race to medical anthropology to foreground the desires and anxieties of any science of suffering.Body & Society 06/2011; 17:159-181. DOI:10.1177/1357034X11400765 · 1.44 Impact Factor
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ABSTRACT: Postgenomics is intended to move beyond the search for genes to explore disease as a result of genes interacting with their environment, revealing how they have relevance for health. This addition of environment confers genomic research with new cultural life, making it relevant to public health discourse, government interventions, and health disparities. Drawing on ethnographic research following an American genetics of asthma study conducted in Barbados, I explore the ways environment gets construed by the multiple communities involved-U.S. researchers, Bajan officials, medical practitioners, and patient participants. I draw on Lévi-Strauss to argue that plural competing environments give mana to the American postgenomic project as intervention on racial injustice, household practices, pollution, and other aspects of asthma.Medical Anthropology Quarterly 11/2013; DOI:10.1111/maq.12061 · 1.30 Impact Factor