Health, Gender, and Care Work: Productive Sites for Thinking Anthropologically about the Aftermaths of Socialism

Rivkin-Fish, Michele R. (2011). Health, Gender, and Care Work: Productive Sites for Thinking Anthropologically about the Aftermaths of Socialism. Anthropology of East Europe Review, 29(1), 8-15.

Rivkin-Fish, Michele R. (2011). Health, Gender, and Care Work: Productive Sites for Thinking Anthropologically about the Aftermaths of Socialism. Anthropology of East Europe Review, 29(1), 8-15.

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Anthropological approaches to the study of health open up a range of questions and ways of conceptualizing social processes that are particularly valuable for understanding the transformations underway in the aftermath of state socialism. While public health and demographic analyses capture important macro-level shifts—from the dire spikes in Russia‘s male mortality and sexually transmitted infection rates that began in the early 1990s, to reductions in fertility and abortion that have continued throughout the region for over twenty years—public health scholars‘ efforts to understand these shifts are fraught with methodological and theoretical limitations that too rarely go unexamined. Anthropologists‘ contributions to the study of health are thus important in several ways. First, they bring together attention to macro-level changes with ethnographic-based inquiry into what such shifts mean to the various persons and institutions involved in them. Second, the anthropological lens requires us to reflect continuously upon the assumptions and interests that guide our research in light of the meanings, practices, and contradictions we encounter in the field. This iterative, reflexive, and critical attention to our own analytical processes serves, ideally, as a safeguard against unwittingly projecting our own assertions of the real or the important onto others‘ lives. At the very least, we need to articulate and justify our perspectives and our questions, and clarify their relevance vis-a-vis the concerns of local actors.


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Population and Health Policies and Programs
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Rivkin-Fish, Michele R.



2011


Anthropology of East Europe Review

29

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8-15










7884

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