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Title:French and American Medical Perspectives on AIDS: Discourse and Practice
Author(s):Feldman, Jamie Lynn
Doctoral Committee Chair(s):Cunningham, C.,
Department / Program:Anthropology
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Subject(s):Anthropology, Cultural
Engineering, Biomedical
Abstract:This study examines how members of the French and American medical communities, comprised of clinical and research sectors, construct and shape their models of AIDS. The primary goal is to develop a comparative, ethnographically-based understanding of how medical models of AIDS emerge first through discourse, and, secondarily, through clinical practice. Additionally, I explore how medical understanding of AIDS is subsequently communicated within and outside the medical community. Among my informants, AIDS also serves as a "constructor," a medium for the construction of personal, professional and cultural identity.
This comparative study is grounded in participant-observation conducted in two clinics, French and American, involved with AIDS, as well as interviews with other medical professionals outside these clinics. The study focuses exclusively on the medical community, and being an ethnographic study, the data were obtained directly from medical personnel within a medical context. As a physician in training as well as an anthropologist, I had access to a range of data not generally accessible to the ordinary ethnographer. All of the stated research goals, in turn, benefit from the integral cross-cultural comparison.
A comparative study of medical discourse on AIDS increases the amount and breadth of available data and enables us to distinguish discursive elements common to medical culture from those which are particular to a society. The comparative approach allows us to explore the interaction of medical and social realities as they are constructed through discourse, and how local differences in biomedicine emerge through this interaction.
Biomedicine is generally perceived by them as uniform across the Western world, particularly in North America and Western Europe. This study challenges that assumption, highlighting culturally-based differences not only in health care delivery, but in how each biomedicine constructs the interaction between disease and the human body. In this way, one may gain insight not only into differences in biomedical systems, but the cultures themselves, as played out in context of biomedicine.
Issue Date:1993
Description:626 p.
Thesis (Ph.D.)--University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, 1993.
Other Identifier(s):(UMI)AAI9329025
Date Available in IDEALS:2014-12-17
Date Deposited:1993

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