LUCSUS Seminar: Global Health, Race and Neglected Spaces of Care: The Therapeutic Wandering of Diabetes Diagnosis in Guinea
Welcome to a seminar with invited speaker Veronica Gomez-Temesio (University of Geneva)
Global Health programs shape which diseases are to be mapped as priorities. Through processes of triage, donors decide how funding is distributed to respond to specific diseases, and not to others. Guinea is an exemplary case of this the regime of visibilities and invisibilities. While the country was the target of massive funding during the Ebola outbreak (2014-2015), non-communicable diseases such as diabetes remain massively undiagnosed and untreated. In 2020, a new hospital, the T6, was built in Conakry with the aim of strengthening epidemiological surveillance. Among its tasks, T6 hosts a clinic of diabetology. While diagnosing diabetes type has become routine in the Global North, in Guinea, due to lack of diagnostic tests, which type of diabetes the patients is suffering from relies on what ethnography reveals as a “therapeutic wandering”. Over years, patients engage in different treatments to see if they withstand better the “pills” or the “shots”, or what doctors describe as the “evolving suite”, of the patient’s reaction to treatments. While funding was sent to Guinea to stop Ebola, the global invisibility of journeys of people suffering from diabetes raises critical questions about how, from colonial to contemporary medicine, black people are treated as “medical superbodies” that can endure more than white ones. Drawing on an ethnography of a diabetology clinic, my presentation shows how diabetes experience is rooted in a segregated landscape where global and local duress meet in the suffering body.
Veronica Gomez-Temesio is a political and medical anthropologist. She is currently a senior researcher at the Global Studies Institute, University of Geneva, Switzerland. After a first book devoted to water privatization policies in Senegal, L’État sourcier. Eau et politique au Sénégal published by the École normale supérieure de Lyon press, her most recent work focuses on Ebola epidemics as spaces of racial segregation as well as postcolonial endurances. Since 2021, she is leading Triage and Neglected Spaces of Care, a 4-years research project funded by the Swiss National Science Foundation which aims at investigating how diabetes (non)-treatment in West Africa illuminates Global Health triage policies at the intersection of race and gender. Her research has been published by international journals such as American Anthropologist, Critique of Anthropology and L’Homme.
The seminar is a part of the theme: Connecting the Local and the Global.
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The LUCSUS seminars are open for the public, held online or in-person and take place Thursdays from 11am to 12 noon. We are looking forwards to seeing you!