ECSAS 2023 – Turin 26-29 July

15 – Hospitals in South Asia: Historical and Ethnographic Perspectives

Over the past three decades, public health institutions in South Asia have received unprecedented criticism. Public health programs are accused of inaccessibility, long waiting times, poor hygiene and medical malpractice, while private-sector clinics are reproached for profiteering and uneven care practices.

Convenors

Shagufta Bhangu - King’s College London
Clémence Jullien - CNRS
Andrew McDowell - Tulane University
Fabien Provost - King’s College London
Emilija Zabiliūtė - Durham University

Long Abstract

Over the past three decades, public health institutions in South Asia have received unprecedented criticism. Public health programs are accused of inaccessibility, long waiting times, poor hygiene and medical malpractice, while private-sector clinics are reproached for profiteering and uneven care practices. For many, the inability of Indian health systems to manage Covid-19 in spring 2021 resulted from a structural crisis affecting the entire system. At the same time, the use of health care infrastructures has never ceased to increase; today, even private hospitals and clinics play a pivotal role in many public health programmes. This panel seeks to go beyond the language of success and failure to invite papers that ethnographically examine how public health interventions shape moral worlds, therapeutics, law, “publics” and forms of care and in their attempts to govern population health and wellbeing.

The panel invites contributions from scholars analysing the emergence of new aspirations and subjectivities among patients and caregivers, the redefinition of relationships among different categories of healthcare professionals, and the development of innovative standards and practices. In doing so, the panel will address the transformations of the state, the persistence of social, religious and inter-caste tensions, and the circulation of models of care between the global and the local. By looking to myriad set of healthcare institutions in South Asia, papers will provide new ways of interpreting and critically engaging embodied power and inequality in the subcontinent.