Social and Cultural Lives of Immune Systems

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James MacLynn Wilce
Psychology Press, 2003 - Social Science - 318 pages
Social and Cultural Lives of Immune Systems introduces a provocative new hypothesis in medico-social theory - the theory that immunity and disease are in part socially constituted. It argues that immune systems function not just as biological entities but also as symbolic concepts charged with political significance. Bridging elements of psychology, sociology, body theory, immunology and medical anthropology, twelve papers from leading scholars explain some of the health-hazards of emotional and social pressure, whilst analysing the semiotic and social responses to the imagery of immunity.
 

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Contents

the health henefits of disclosure
19
Metaphors our hodyminds live hy
51
the relative ahsence of emotion
82
PART II
103
PART III
189
ulcers anxiety
203
the immune system glohal economies
232
the social
269
Reflections on emhodiment
282
Index
303
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About the author (2003)

Jim Wilce has been Assistant Professor of Anthropology at Northern Arizona University since 1994. His anthropology graduate studies, fieldwork, and his first book - Eloquence in Trouble: Poetics and Politics of Complaining in Bangladesh - combined his lifelong interests in language, illness, and healing. He has been working to develop a sociocultural perspective on psychoneuroimmunology and its role in symbolic healingsince 1990. His article on language and healing has appeared in Journal of Linguistic Anthropology (1999) and has been reprinted twice, and his work in psychiatric anthropology has appeared in Cultural Anthropology, and the forthcoming volume, The edge of Experience: Culture, Subjectivity, and Schizophrenia (Cambridge University Press, 2003).

Wilce lived in Bangledesh for five years in the 1980s and 1990s. He did fieldwork in the Chandpur and Comilla Districts, focusing on suffering and its discursive expressions in domestic and medical settings. He has focused particular attention on spontaneously improvised laments once heard commonly in Bangladesh and around the world. His article on lament appeared in Comparative Studies in Society and History (2001) and his new book on this topic, Crying Shame, should appear in 2005.

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