Vita Life in a Zone of Social Abandonment

ISBN-10: 0520272951

ISBN-13: 9780520272958

Edition: 2nd 2012 (Revised)

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Zones of social abandonment are emerging everywhere in Brazil's big cities--places like Vita, where the unwanted, the mentally ill, the sick, and the homeless are left to die. This haunting, unforgettable story centers on a young woman named Catarina, increasingly paralyzed and said to be mad, living out her time at Vita. Anthropologist João Biehl leads a detective-like journey to know Catarina; to unravel the cryptic, poetic words that are part of the "dictionary" she is compiling; and to trace the complex network of family, medicine, state, and economy in which her abandonment and pathology took form.As Biehl painstakingly relates Catarina's words to a vanished world and elucidates her condition, we learn of subjectivities unmade and remade under economic pressures, pharmaceuticals as moral technologies, a public common sense that lets the unsound and unproductive die, and anthropology's unique power to work through these juxtaposed fields.Vita'smethodological innovations, bold fieldwork, and rigorous social theory make it an essential reading for anyone who is grappling with how to understand the conditions of life, thought and ethics in the contemporary world.
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Book details

Edition: 2nd
Copyright year: 2012
Publisher: University of California Press
Publication date: 10/12/2013
Binding: Paperback
Pages: 456
Size: 6.25" wide x 9.25" long x 1.25" tall
Weight: 2.090
Language: English

Joatilde;o Biehlis Professor of Anthropology at Princeton University.Torben Eskerodis an artist and works as a freelance photographer in Copenhagen. His website is

Introduction: "Dead alive, dead outside, alive inside"
A Zone of Social Abandonment
Catarina and the Alphabet
Life of the Mind
Society of Bodies
The House and the Animal
"Love is the illusion of the abandoned"
Social Psychosis
An Illness of Time
God, Sex, and Agency
The Medical Archive
Public Psychiatry
Her Life as a Typical Patient
Democratization and the Right to Health
Economic Change and Mental Suffering
Medical Science
End of a Life
Care and Exclusion
Migration and Model Policies
Women, Poverty, and Social Death
"I am like this because of life"
The Sense of Symptoms
Pharmaceutical Being
The Family
Her House
Children, In-Laws, and the Ex-Husband
Adoptive Parents
"To want my body as a medication, my body"
Everyday Violence
Biology and Ethics
Human Rights
Value Systems
Gene Expression and Social Abandonment
Family Tree
A Genetic Population
A Lost Chance
The Dictionary
"Underneath was this, which I do not attempt to name"
Conclusion: "A way to the words"
Postscript: "I am part of the origins, not just of language, but of people"
Afterword: Return to Vita
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