A Heart for the Work: Journeys through an African Medical by Claire L. Wendland

By Claire L. Wendland

Burnout is usual between medical professionals within the West, so one could suppose clinical profession in Malawi, one of many poorest nations on this planet, may position a long way larger pressure at the idealism that drives many medical professionals. yet, as A middle for the Work makes transparent, Malawian scientific scholars discover ways to confront poverty creatively, experiencing fatigue and frustration but additionally pleasure and dedication on their option to changing into physicians. the 1st ethnography of clinical education within the international South, Claire L. Wendland’s publication is a relocating and perceptive examine medication in an international the place the transnational flow of individuals and concepts creates either devastation and possibility.

Wendland, a doctor anthropologist, performed broad interviews and labored in wards, clinics, and working theaters along the scholar medical professionals whose tales she relates. From the relative calm of Malawi’s collage of drugs to the turbulence of teaching at hospitals with gravely sick sufferers and dramatically insufficient provides, employees, and expertise, Wendland’s paintings unearths the way in which those younger medical professionals interact the contradictions in their situations, laying off new mild on debates concerning the results of scientific education, the influence of conventional therapeutic, and the needs of medicine.

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Extra resources for A Heart for the Work: Journeys through an African Medical School

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I provide an overview of healing traditions from the precolonial era to the present, in Malawi specifically and southeast Africa more generally, and explain why healers of all sorts may reasonably see themselves both as elite and as endangered. To give readers insight into the current state of Malawi’s patients, clinicians, and health sector, I also briefly explore factors contributing to the country’s terrible health indicators. Chapter 3 lays out the routes to becoming a doctor in Malawi, including the intersections of gender, class, and religion on the paths to medicine.

I argue that technologies can be potent actors even when they are materially absent; that medicine’s moral order can better be understood as one of many possible moral economies; and that the experiential knowledge students of medicine learn can lead just as effectively—if to ambiguous ends—to a politicized identification with “the people” as it can to a depoliticized detachment. Throughout the book, I have kept the focus tightly on the narrative voices of those with whom I worked and spoke. ’ among a limited range of historical possibilities” (Mattingly 1998:128).

Perhaps for that reason, there has been very little anthropological analysis of African biomedicine as a form of cultural meaning-making, and no anthropological study of African practitioners of biomedicine. Discussions of the ways people use various therapeutic options can and do list biomedical remedies alongside nonbiomedical therapies such as the use of herbal remedies or incorporation into cults of affliction or various other healing measures. The therapeutic itineraries of Africans seeking amelioration of suffering often include stops at all of these types of practices (see, for example, Hutchinson 1996; Janzen 1978).

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