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Disease tales, therapeutic tangles and ontological politics in an indigenous health institution: Ethnographic experimentations and academic interlocutions between São Paulo and Berkeley

Grant number: 18/06164-9
Support Opportunities:Scholarships abroad - Research
Effective date (Start): February 15, 2019
Effective date (End): December 14, 2019
Field of knowledge:Humanities - Anthropology - Indigenous Ethnology
Principal Investigator:Valeria Mendonça de Macedo
Grantee:Valeria Mendonça de Macedo
Host Investigator: Seth Holmes
Host Institution: Escola de Filosofia, Letras e Ciências Humanas (EFLCH). Universidade Federal de São Paulo (UNIFESP). Campus Guarulhos. Guarulhos , SP, Brazil
Research place: University of California, Berkeley (UC Berkeley), United States  


This project concerns the development of an ethnographic research centered in the House of Support for Indigenous Health (CASAI), located in São Paulo, and in the hospital complexes of the Brazilian Unified Health System (SUS) to which it is articulated. In its 40 beds, CASAI-SP receives indigenous from all regions of the country for treatments of high and medium complexity. Since the beginning of the fieldwork in 2015, I have sought to trace narratives and networks in which diseases are conceptualized as alterities within and between bodies. Hence the emphasis on what Mol and Law have designated as 'ontological politics', turning to how questions are formulated, bodies are carved, and lives are managed in therapeutic paths involving multiple agents and knowledge practices (biomedical, bureaucratic, shamanic etc.). The challenge in the current phase of the research is to expand analytical possibilities of my ethnographical experience through a stay at the University of California - Berkeley. I will be associated with an institute that congregate centers focused on social medicine, ethnographic research, and studies with Native American issues. My supervisors will be two professors whose researches focus on indigenous health in Latin America. During the stay, I will produce articles in English and Portuguese, seeking to amplify the internationalization of my production and my academic dialogues.

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