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Critical Global Health: Evidence, Efficacy, Ethnography

Tell Me Why My Children Died: Rabies, Indigenous Knowledge, and Communicative Justice

By
Charles L. Briggs
Charles L. Briggs

Charles L. Briggs is Alan Dundes Distinguished Professor in the Department of Anthropology, University of California, Berkeley, and the author or coauthor of ten books. 

 

Clara Mantini-Briggs, a Venezuelan public health physician, was the National Coordinator of the Dengue Fever Program in Venezuela's Ministry of Health and is a Lecturer in the Department of Anthropology at the University of California, Berkeley. They are coauthors of Stories in the Time of Cholera: Racial Profiling during a Medical Nightmare.

 

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Clara Mantini-Briggs
Clara Mantini-Briggs

Charles L. Briggs is Alan Dundes Distinguished Professor in the Department of Anthropology, University of California, Berkeley, and the author or coauthor of ten books. 

 

Clara Mantini-Briggs, a Venezuelan public health physician, was the National Coordinator of the Dengue Fever Program in Venezuela's Ministry of Health and is a Lecturer in the Department of Anthropology at the University of California, Berkeley. They are coauthors of Stories in the Time of Cholera: Racial Profiling during a Medical Nightmare.

 

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Duke University Press
ISBN electronic:
978-0-8223-7439-8
Publication date:
2016
Book Chapter

Knowledge Production and Circulation

Published:
May 2016

This chapter joins science-technology-society (sts) studies, medical anthropology, and linguistic anthropology in scrutinizing how parents, physicians, nurses, epidemiologists, and journalists constructed competing knowledge claims. It draws on Charles S. Peirce in distinguishing three types. Symbolic dimensions revolved around specifying a diagnostic category that would solve the mystery, thereby privileging the symbolic language of biomedicine. Indexical dimensions positioned all claims in relation to the same dying and dead bodies, projecting different temporal, spatial, scientific, and corporeal forms of directness. Iconic dimensions revolved around making accounts seem like direct reflections of reliable knowledge. The chapter examines participation frameworks (Erving Goffman) that positioned some participants as producers of legitimate knowledge, others as making nonknowledge or less-valuable facts. Parents were faced with grasping healers', doctors', and epidemiologists' indexical claims even as no one valued theirs. Advocating multispecies ontologies, healers insisted on positioning nonhumans, including vampire bats, as active participants in knowledge production.

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