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The Cancer Institute operates within multiple social worlds as the only cancer treatment and research centre covering a region of almost 5 million people in an area marked by linguistic, religious and ethnic diversity. In its engagement, various notions of ‘community’ ground the work at the hospital. Through an exploration of a range of encounters and interactions between the institute and its local world, this paper critically reflects on ‘community’ as imagined in the work of ‘community outreach’ and ‘community medicine’ while also tracing the social milieu of the region and analyses how the social is reframed in these efforts. I argue that the imagination and practices of community invoke different imaginations of subjecthood seen in examples such as that of a ‘pre-cancerous subject,’ a ‘defaulted patient/subject’ and an ‘expired patient/subject, among others.’ Each of these is envisioned as a failure in institutional efforts and generates renewed efforts in ‘community outreach.’ These normative and moral medical forces emanating from the Cancer Institute are received amidst complex affective ties which connect people of the region to the cancer Institute as the sole provider of specialised cancer care.
About the speaker
Dr Shagufta Bhangu
Dr. Shagufta Bhangu is a Lecturer at the Department of Global Health and Social Medicine at King's College London. She completed her training in sociology and social anthropology in India at the Delhi School of Economics, University of Delhi (MA, 2010-2012 and MPhil, 2013-2014), Shiv Nadar University (PhD, 2014-2020) and in the Medical Anthropology programme at University of California San Francisco and University of California Berkeley (Fulbright Scholar, 2017-2018). Shagufta’s research is focused on the emergence of new medical traditions and imaginaries in South Asia. Her doctoral research explored the medicalisation of pain, medical epistemics and practices in a milieu of dwindling state supported healthcare systems and a failing industrial labour force afflicted with chronic pains in Kolkata, India. Since 2020, Shagufta has been a part of the Grid Oncology project, studying the emergence and making of the national cancer grid in Assam, and the changing relationalities between patients and families fighting cancer and the oncologists and medical workers who attend to them.
Please note: This is a hybrid event with an option to join online via the registration link. Lunch will be served from 12 pm. The seminar runs from 12:30 pm to 1:30 pm.