In an earlier essay that appeared in Public Culture, Bharat Jayram Venkat asked what it might mean to think of cure as an ending lacking finality. Here, in response to Paul H. Mason et al., he briefly expands on his thoughts from that essay. Drawing on his research on tuberculosis in India, he identifies the consequences of a widely shared investment in cure’s finality—what he calls, after Mircea Eliade, a vision of “radical cure.” Such an investment threatens to foreclose our recognition of the limits of cure, as well as curtail our willingness to conceive of other possibilities of cure, ones in which we are left without tidy endings. The task, then, of a critique of curative reason is to clarify these limits, precisely so that we are able to imagine cure otherwise.
Of Cures and Curses: Toward a Critique of Curative Reason
Bharat Jayram Venkat is an assistant professor in the Department of Anthropology at the University of Oregon. His recent publications include “Scenes of Commitment” (Cultural Anthropology, February 2017) and “Cures” (Public Culture, September 2016). He is currently completing a book titled “India after Antibiotics: Tuberculosis at the Limits of Cure.”