Bourgeoning technological advances in biomedicine profoundly animate modern biopolitical understandings of risk and protection and related ways of knowing, offering, and seeking care. But what might it mean to embody protection by means of suspicion toward these very medicotechnological deployments of care? What can suspicion toward biomedical and technological forms of care teach us about histories of risk, medicine, and the imperative to care in the postcolonial world? This article wrestles with these questions. Drawing on ethnographic fieldwork in Barbados between 2015 and 2018, it embraces care’s historically antithetical meanings to examine the caring work of the human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine and Afro-Barbadians’ hesitancy toward it. Looking closer at care, the impetus to care, and the consequences of refusing that care, it gestures toward the risks and potentialities of not-doing and the affective feelings of suspicion that exist for Afro-Barbadian parents who have refused the care of the HPV vaccine for their adolescent children amid an epidemic of cervical cancer in the developing world.
Suspicion and/as Radical (Care): Looking Closer at Vaccine Hesitancy in Postcolonial Barbados
Nicole Charles is assistant professor of women and gender studies in the Department of Historical Studies at the University of Toronto Mississauga. Her research engages science and technology studies and transnational and women-of-color feminisms to deconstruct the entwined politics of biomedicine, care, gender, race, and colonialism in the anglophone Caribbean.
Nicole Charles; Suspicion and/as Radical (Care): Looking Closer at Vaccine Hesitancy in Postcolonial Barbados. Social Text 1 March 2020; 38 (1 (142)): 89–107. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/01642472-7971115
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