Anthropology Seminar Series | Habits of Maintenance: Infrastructure for Chronic Living
Anthropology Seminar Series:
Habits of Maintenance: Infrastructure for Chronic Living
Speaker: Bo Kyeong Seo – Yonsei University
Host: Dr Shiori Shakuto
Join via Zoom
3:00–5:00 PM (Sydney time, GMT+10)
When infrastructure is invoked as a vital element for human possibility and looms as a battleground for public health contestation, the developmentalist emphasis on creation and upgrading obscures an essential dynamic of infrastructure: maintenance. Who tends the care infrastructures that sustain vulnerable lives? Who keeps public systems running against breakdowns? By describing the ways in which the home dialysis program has been instituted in northern Thailand, I shed light on the uncommon perseverance and precision required to learn to self-administer dialysis. End-stage renal disease patients who choose or are forced to choose publicly-funded home dialysis can live with their failing kidneys as long as the lines running between their hands, dialysis bags, and the peritoneum are safely maintained. Here, habit-making is of critical importance, for it tasks those who are dependent on public health infrastructure with an indispensable role in keeping it going. By paying close attention to the relation between damaged bodies, structural vulnerabilities, and habits, I envision peritoneal dialysis as an alternative model for operating infrastructure in conditions of debility and debilitation.
Bo Kyeong Seo is an anthropologist working on medicine, inequalities, and experiences of dispossession. Over the last ten years she has been conducting research in Thailand and South Korea focusing on people’s struggle for care in the context of poverty, transnational migration, and stigmatization. Her first book, Eliciting Care: Health and Power in Northern Thailand, is published by the University of Wisconsin Press in 2020.