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In the rush to development in Botswana, and Africa more generally, changes in work, diet, and medical care have resulted in escalating experiences of chronic illness, debilitating disease, and accident. Debility and the Moral Imagination in Botswana documents how transformations wrought by colonialism, independence, industrialization, and development have effected changesIn the rush to development in Botswana, and Africa more generally, changes in work, diet, and medical care have resulted in escalating experiences of chronic illness, debilitating disease, and accident. Debility and the Moral Imagination in Botswana documents how transformations wrought by colonialism, independence, industrialization, and development have effected changes in bodily life and perceptions of health, illness, and debility. In this intimate and powerful book, Julie Livingston explores the lives of debilitated persons, their caregivers, the medical and social networks of caring, and methods that communities have adopted for promoting well-being. Livingston traces how Tswana medical thought and practice have become intertwined with Western bio-medical ideas and techniques. By focusing on experiences and meanings of illness and bodily misfortune, Livingston sheds light on the complexities of the current HIV/AIDS epidemic and places it in context with a long and complex history of impairment and debility. This book presents practical and thoughtful responses to physical misfortune and offers an understanding of the complex dynamic between social change and suffering....

Title : Debility and the Moral Imagination in Botswana
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ISBN : 9780253217851
Format Type : Paperback
Number of Pages : 328 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

Debility and the Moral Imagination in Botswana Reviews

  • Michelle Marvin
    2019-03-08 01:32

    Western modern biomedicine often overshadows an understanding of health ailments as entanglements with culture and morality. With her first-hand experience studying and interacting with the chronically afflicted in Botswana, Livingston offers a comprehensive understanding of the integration between debility and moral values in the Tswana culture throughout the twentieth century. She uses the term ‘debility,’ or ‘bogole,’ to refer to “physical misfortune,” which encompasses any range of chronic illness, disfigurement, impairment, and disability. Debility is kept in conversation throughout the book with ‘moral imagination,’ a phrase Livingston defines as “… the way we envision possibilities for a morally better or worse world than the one in which we live.” The question pursued throughout this study asks to what degree the moral imagination intersects with the Tswana understanding of, explanations of, and ways of dealing with debility. In particular, this research is important for understanding the HIV/AIDS epidemic through the lens of disruption in a cultural tapestry, in addition to the more frequently accepted biomedical interpretation.This book is organized into five substantial chapters enclosed within an introduction and conclusion. A helpful glossary of Setswana terms precedes the notes, sources, and index. With the exception of the first chapter on money and family matters, the chapters are arranged in both a thematic and chronological progression beginning with the early-twentieth-century and ending in post-Independence modern day Botswana. Ever since the time of the Depression, the slow change from localized, self-sustaining chiefdoms into mining-focused labor migration served to fracture the coherence of gerontocratic cultural values. As British colonialism made certain spiritual and medical practices of the chiefdoms illegal, the communities weakened even further. New practices of biomedicine intermixed with traditional bongaka (medicine) and increased the tensions between growing personal autonomy and sexual suspicion. By the period of postcolonial development, women also began migrating for work which furthered intra-family debates and hostilities. Though biomedicine helped to decrease mortality and increase longevity, it created more opportunities for life with chronic debility. These debilities, understood through a combined moral and biomedical etiology, shaped the way in which people with debilities are viewed and treated to the present day. Livingston’s work demonstrates the necessary cultural sensitivity that history and medicine must have if these disciplines are to understand various world perspectives on debility. As Livingston herself points out, prior to her work in Botswana she had thought of HIV/AIDS in a narrow scope as a sexually transmitted infection and deadly disease. Now, she realizes that “… many AIDS patients, like all debilitated people, did a lot of living before they died,” a perspective on the epidemic that has been significantly overlooked. In criticism, her book relies very heavily on remembered narratives, almost to the point of disregard for history as conceived in Western understanding. A better blend of the two, with specific historical dates and examples for the early-twentieth-century chapter, would help to corroborate the important aspects of the narratives more convincingly. Further, at times her prose is unnecessarily dry and belabored, which makes the book feel longer than necessary. Yet these are minor criticisms; overall Livingston’s work is a model for culturally aware epidemiology studies and is beneficial for any cultural historian of medicine who is interested in understanding contexts outside of his or her native traditions.Julie Livingston has been a professor of history at Rutgers University since 2003. She earned both an MA and an MPH from Boston University in 1992 and 1993 respectively, followed by her PhD at Emory University in 2001. Her primary research interests focus on the social practice of medical care and the human body as a moral condition, particularly under conditions of scarce resources. She has done a great deal of work in Botswana, Africa and currently has a book in press about the only cancer ward in that nation. This particular work is Livingston’s first published book, though it is situated in her well defined research pursuits of understanding the medical/social/body connection in poorer areas. The bibliography of the book is significant, showing that her work both draws from and advances the knowledge about the themes of her work.