Multiple Voices and Stories: Narratives of Health and Illness
Arima Mishra and Suhita Chopra Chatterjee (Eds.)
140 x 216 mm
Year of Publishing
Territorial Rights
Orient BlackSwan
In the field of medical sociology/anthropology, narratives of patients are widely used as an approach to understand social reality and lived experiences. As a theoretical and methodological entry point, they contribute towards defining the scope of discipline, point out the limitations of the ‘positivist language’ of biomedicine, and highlight the role of culture and society in understanding health, illness and suffering in everyday lives. Inspired by the ‘possibilities of narratives,’ Multiple Voices and Stories is a collection of essays on the narratives of health which goes beyond the patients and their immediate families to include midwives, traditional healers, complementary and alternative medical practitioners, health workers, to name a few. The essays are arranged thematically. The first section captures the voices of the care-providers and healers in different settings. The second section narrates the voices of the self in providing accounts of doing health—whether curing an illness episode, living with a chronic illness or engaging in everyday practices of health. The third section goes further by offering two contrasting examples on mental health narratives by showing where and why a narrative approach to medicine works or does not work. The volume also raises important questions like: What functions do these narratives perform? Do they generate evidence? If yes, what kind of evidence? How does such evidence provide an ‘alternative’ to the evidence in biomedicine? Where do narratives stand in the practices of evidence-based medicine and public health? Bringing together essays by well-known scholars, this volume is an indispensable read for students and scholars of medical sociology/anthropology, sociology/anthropology of health and illness, public health, narrative theory, social work and nursing studies.

Arima Mishra is Associate Professor, Health, Nutrition and Development Initiative, Azim Premi University, Bengaluru, Karnataka, India.

Suhita Chopra Chatterjee is Professor of Sociology, Department of Humanities and social sciences, Indian Institute of Technology, Kharagpur, West Bengal, India.

List of Tables and Figures

Arima Mishra and Suhita Chopra Chattterjee

Section I: Voices from the Margin: Health Providers and Healers

  1. Moral narratives and biomedical critiques in the accounts of bone doctors and their clients
    Helen Lambert
  2. “No one medicine is enough”: Accounts of complementary therapy practitioners in Delhi
    Ruby Bhardwaj
  3. Outcaste women, cast-out birth knowledge
    Janet Chawla
  4. Narratives of Tulu-speaking healers in Karnataka
    Marine Carrin
  5. “Numerical narratives”: Accounts of lay health workers in Odisha
    Arima Mishra, Shefali Hasija and Sidsel Roalkvam

Section II: “Doing” Health: Stories of Health and Illness

  1. Where there is no doctor: Narratives on biomedical healthcare practitioners in Chennai, South India
    Haripriya Narasimhan
  2. Health and sex work: Structures as narrative nodes
    Ambar Basu and Mohan J. Dutta
  3. Living with diabetes: Accounts of South Asian migrants in the United Kingdom
    Tania Porqueddu
  4. “We were never sick in our time”: Social change, food and identity in Uttarakhand
    Cecilie Nordfeldt
  5. Fertility narrative: A Proppian approach
    Amrita Basu

Section III: Narrative Approach to Mental Health: Two Contrasting Case Studies

  1. Silent voices: Narratives in child mental health
    Kalyani Vishwanatha and Uma Hirisave
  2. Are narratives a legitimate tool of diagnosis?
    Suhita Chopra Chatterjee

Appendix. Facing a catastrophic illness: Lessons from a personal encounter 304
Harmala Gupta

Notes on Contributors

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