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How do we study transitions in health and medicine?

Thursday 31 May 2018, 10.30AM to 12:00

Speaker(s): Professor V. Sujatha (Centre for the Study of Social Systems, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi)

Places at this workshop are limited and available on a first come first served basis. To register your place please email will also be notified of the background materials for this workshop closer to the time.

The study of changes in relation to health and medicine is most interesting and challenging at the same time. The reason is the underlying assumptions of causality and association about whether the biological and demographic base of a population conditions its health status, or the socio-political situation. Similarly, questions about changing medical practices often lead to discussions on whether the economy shapes technological and conceptual shifts, or vice versa.  In these debates, we find how the biological, the social and the political are intricately intertwined.

This workshop will focus upon one selected issue, namely, the study of health and nutritional transitions. Statistical tools and qualitative enquiries have addressed health and nutritional transitions in their own way.  Taking the measurement of health and nutritional status in India as a case study, the workshop’s two background papers argue how on the one hand, the statistical measurement of health status misses out the socio-cultural dynamics of the existential  aspects of health, food and eating, while on the other, indulgence in the cultural  narratives leaves out structural inequalities under changing circumstances.  The proposal here is for juxtaposing the statistical and existential understanding of health by  ‘alternating’ between them and  addressing the anomalies in one by resort to the other, if we wish to grasp rapidly changing realities at several levels.

In the workshop presentation, the arguments in the background papers will be bolstered by data from field research on South Africa[1] and Europe[2] by the workshop leader. Afterwards there will be an opportunity for more general discussion.

[1]  ICSSR-NIHSS project  (2015-17) on ‘The antinomies of economic growth and public health – Comparative studies on reproductive  health and nutrition in South Africa and India’

[2] UGC-DAAD project ( 2009-2010) on Ayurveda in Germany

Location: BS/008, Berrick Saul Building, University of York Heslington West Campus

Admission: Free and open to all