I could tell you how many steps make up the streets rising like stairways, and of the degree of the arcades' curves, and what kind of zinc scales cover the roofs; but I already know this would be the same as telling you nothing. The city does not consist of this, but of relationships between the measurements of its space and the events of its past...A description of Zaira as it is today should contain all Zaira's past. -Italo Calvino, Invisible Cities
Wednesday, April 26, 2006
Tuesday, April 18, 2006
As an anthropologist, I find the more interesting question is why people are not compliant. My friend Ari Shapiro did an interesting study on this, noting that "Ethnography opens up the issue by entering the private space of pill-taking to understand the beliefs, relationships, and activities that contribute to patient (non-)compliance." The abstract for his paper is available at the EPIC website, but you have to be a member of Anthrosource to get the whole thing.
His study, as well as many articles in the popular media, point to the fact that compliance is about much more than remembering to take pills at the right time. Medications can make people feel awful, or look awful, or be unable to participate in important family events. Teenagers with cancer don't really believe they might die. The list goes on.
Interestingly, in my (admittedly very cursory) research, it looked like HIV/AIDS patients are a constituency which overall is very concerned with being compliant, but it is difficult because of all the cocktails and combinations of meds that must be taken at different times. I found several instances of people looking for community solutions (say text messaging each other) to help remember. I am not sure why this is different that other diseases (if in fact it is, or just a sampling error in my own research) but it is interesting nonetheless.
One of the questions she asked me was what course did I think was essential, if I were to set up an anthropology program. I couldn't give her one course, but I did give a description of my ideal program. Granted, I went through a strictly academic progam, so I lean that way--I do feel an ideal program should expose students to all four fields, but in such a way that they understand how they are related to each other, and that they understand both how they can be applied in the "real world" (what is the real world?) or they can pursue deeper academic reseach. I have to admit I am not sure who if anyone is doing that. There are some great academic programs, and some great applied programs (and many people who work on both sides), but it seems like for anthropology to have a strong future better integration than there is now.
An interesting fact I didn't know was that his father, Thomas Dodd, was one of the prosecutors at the Nuremburg Trials.
While we as humans don't hibernate (though sometimes I wish I could), I am not sure how well suited we are for colder climates where we do need to hide from the elements. Now that the weather is warmer, the only place my son (19 months old today!) wants to be is outside, and he objects when it is time to come in. We did evolve in Africa after all, and one only need to visit warmer climates to see how much of traditional life is lived outside--I write this of course at a cubicle removed from windows or doors...