MHM Conversations. Health is a Multiple

Anna Žabicka, social anthropologist

13.05.2021. - 31.10.2021.

In association with social anthropologist Anna Žabicka, Pauls Stradiņš Museum of the History of Medicine is holding a six-part series of conversations centred around discussions on the notion of health. Our health is a multi-layered and variable experience that is influenced by a number of factors, not always medical ones. In our conversations we will explore subjects like health inequity and inequality, stigmatisation of diseases and the influence of the urban environment and loneliness on our health.

You can listen to all the conversations on our Youtube account:

The MHM conversation series will treat health as a multiple, a plural experience and reality. In what sense?  ‘The body, the patient, the disease, the doctor, the technician, the technology: all of these are more than one,’ writes the philosopher Annemarie Mol. Even after a diagnosis has been given, as a patient with that particular diagnosis consulting a certain specialist, I am completely different from the patient I would be in the hands of another medical professional. The human body, the manifestations, course, depiction, representation and experience of disease and health are a multiple, multi-layered and fluctuating reality informed by a set of numerous variables. My health changes from one day to the next, from one environment to another; it comes into contact with everything that surrounds me and co-exists with everything that is already inside me. And as a human being, I am also in a constant relationship with the ‘more-than-human world’, by which I mean other living beings, the inanimate nature, the man-made environment, technologies, physical, social and mental structure, as well as fellow humans.

As part of the MHM conversation series, we will be joined by experts of medical and social sciences and medical professionals in discussions on man and the human health, attempting to see and outline it as something much wider than merely a ‘norm’ that does not demand medical intervention.  In the course of six conversations, we will address subjects like health inequity in Latvia; the place of narcotic substance users in the society and their access to healthcare; the influence of urban environment on health behaviour, nutrition and food chains, as well as loneliness, sexual health and sexuality. The conversations are centred around the human, his/her relationship with self, environment, time, space and the social political structure, and human health as an experience. See you at the MHM conversations at the museum or online, on the museum’s Facebook page!

About the moderator

The MHM conversations will be moderated by social anthropologist Anna Žabicka. Anna is currently writing her PhD thesis on aging and care in the Latvian countryside, basing it on a long-term ethnographic research carried out in a small Latvian countryside care home. Anna is specialising in medical anthropology: her principal academic focus is on the subjects of aging, care, health and social inequity, death and kinship. A holder of two MA degrees in social anthropology from Wayne State University (USA, 2019) and Riga Stradiņš University (2014), Anna Žabicka is currently studying toward a doctoral degree at the University of Vienna and teaching anthropology of medicine, death and kinship at Riga Stradiņš University.

The MHM conversation series is supported by Friedrich Ebert Foundation.


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