Sunday, April 5, 2009

Borderlands: Culture, health and resistance

"Borderlands are folded over and crossed again, and recrossed. The membranes of the border are of varying porosities, closures and openings, subversions and states of exception, checkpoints and circumventions, surveillances and (in)securities, orders and disorders, fears and displacements, with the Real gazing back from holes in the defences." (Fischer, 2008). This could be a snapshot from a war zone or from an emergency room of the Home hospital. Borderlands are also the places where resistance is enacted. 
Dutta (2008) posits that resistance is intrinsically communicative as it communicates certain meaning about social structure. It could be an organizational structure too as Granzow and Theberge (2009) find in their investigation of workers experienced meaningful participation in the participatory project and some of the main barriers to worker participation. Dutta-Bergman (2004a, 2004b), defines resistance as a process of enacting agency in opposition to the structures that constrain the access to basic resources of life, including the fundamental resources of healthcare. As we have seen from the readings and also as Dutta articulates, "resistance is practiced both at the micro-level, through the day-to-day practices of the cultural participants as they engage with various avenues of health care delivery and at the macro level, through the questioning of the broader structures that limit the basic access to resources." Basu and Dutta (2009) investigate and document this ability of the Commercial sex workers of Calcutta to resist the dominant social structures. They raise an important question too in their limitations section of the importance of looking for subaltern resistance within the subalterns!!

Resistance again is visible in Mallory's (2000) study on survival sex. Mallory noted that survival sex exposed women to violence, drug use, sexually transmitted infections, and HIV. She through her thematic analysis posited that mitigating these risks is a process of awakening in which women reconstruct risk and survival and make changes in their behavior. Mallory does not mention resistance but her account foregrounds it and is located in the resistive acts of her participants.  The resistive acts were much more articulated in Wheatley's (2005) study of the patients at the cardiac rehabilitation clinic. Wheatley's account shows how clients adhere to but also challenge agendas of rehabilitation. The patients by, transgressing, complaining about, and clowning despite the rules and regimens of the clinic,  actively create and negotiate the social world of the clinic. Martyn and Hustchinson (2001)  foregrounded the resistive acts of the low income African American adolescents who were the recipients of negative social-psychological scripts and which put them at risk for poverty and early childbearing. As the authors write, "the “tough girls” struggled to rewrite these scripts by recognizing their negativity, being disenchanted with the scripts, determining to be different, and creating better lives." Their resistance could lead them to a better place, a better life. 
As Dutta (2008) writes, forms of resistance are introduced by the stakeholders from within the culture with the goal of altering the cultural practices and the impetus of change comes from within through the articulation of alternative possibilities by unsatisfied members of the communities. Culture serves both as a site of resistance and as a target of resistive strategies. There is a need of more scholarship looking at how resistance leads to social change.


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