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Spring 2020

Thursday February 13 I 4:00-5:30pm

Center for Ethnographic Research Colloquia Series:

Values at the End of Life: The Logic of Palliative Care

Roi Livne, Assistant Professor of Sociology, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor

Over the past fifty years, “the end of life” has become the center of extensive economic, policy, ethical, and medical discussions. Health economists measure and evaluate its cost; ethicists debate the morality of various approaches to “end-of-life care”; policymakers ponder alternative “end of life”-related policies; and clinicians apply a specialized approach (hospice and palliative care) to treat patients whom they diagnose as being at “the end of life.” This talk analyzes the proliferation of conversations on “the end of life” as emblematic of a peculiar moment in human history. Ours is a period where modern growth stagnates and the main challenge developed societies face becomes delineating the limits of human agency and governing populations within these limits. Drawing on a combination of historical and ethnographic analysis of the work of palliative care clinicians in three California hospitals, I analyze how the limits of what can be done, medically and financially, to prolong life are communicated to severely ill patients and families.

Shorb House (Latinx Research Center), 2547 Channing Way

Co-sponsored by: Sociology; Center for Science, Technology, Medicine & Society; Berkeley Center for Social Medicine

CANCELLED! Friday, March 13 | 12:00-1:30pm CANCELLED!

Dwelling in Liminalities: The Otherwise Care of Bucharest Underground

Michele Lancione, Urban Institute, University of Sheffield  

This talk is based on a paper that explores the politics of life underground in Bucharest, Romania, and its capacity to invent a home within an infrastructure, and overall socio-technical conditions, which for the many are a matter of uninhabitability (Amin, 2014; Simone, 2016). The paper focuses on a tunnel passing under Bucharest’s central train station, where a community of drug users and homeless people established its home for years. Relying on extensive ethnographic observations, visual work, and interviews undertaken within the premises of one of Bucharest’s underground canals, the paper traces and illustrates the socio-material entanglements characterizing life underground. This is an assemblage of bodies, veins, syringes, substances, and various relationships of power and affect, which speaks of drug addiction and extreme marginalization but also of a sense of belonging, reciprocal trustiness, and care (Lancione, 2019a). The goal of this work is to trace the emergence of the infrastructure of ‘home’ in the abnormal conditions of life in the tunnels of Gara de Nord and to highlight what that meant in terms of urban politics in Bucharest (Chelcea and Druţǎ, 2016) and beyond (Butler, 2011). The paper contributes to debates around homing practices at the margins of the urban (Veness, 1993; Vasudevan, 2015; Lancione, 2019b), and it promotes a deeper understanding of the peculiar politics emerging from the assemblage of life underground in Bucharest.

Barrows 402, UC Berkeley

Sponsored by Center for Ethnographic Research and Institute of Slavic, East European, and Eurasian Studies, UC Berkeley

Part of "Power at the Margins II: Mobilizing Across Housing Injustice"

CANCELLED! Thursday, April 16 I 4:00-5:30pm CANCELLED!

We hope to reschedule this event and will post more information soon.

Center for Ethnographic Research Colloquia Series:

Beyond the Case: The Logics and Practices of Comparative Ethnography

Corey M. Abramson, Associate Professor of Sociology, University of Arizona  

and Neil Gong, Assistant Professor of Sociology, University of California, San Diego, Junior Fellow, Michigan Society of Fellows

How do ethnographers engage in comparison, and how do they ground their methodological and analytical choices? Do these comparative logics align with or diverge from the methodological foundations of other forms of social scientific research? Drawing on insights from Beyond the Case: The Logics and Practices of Comparative Ethnography (Oxford University Press 2020), this talk addresses these questions by analyzing comparative ethnographies from a variety of traditions such as phenomenology, interpretivism, grounded theory, the extended case method, positivism, and “post-positivist” realism. By honing in on how ethnographers render sites, groups, or cases analytically commensurable and comparable, we offer a new lens for examining the assumptions and payoffs of various approaches to field research. We highlight not only points of divergence, but also synergy with other empirical methods, and between competing approaches to ethnography. Rather than argue for a singular vision of “ethnography,” we leverage the field’s epistemic and practical diversity to expand opportunities for meaningful comparisons on a broad range of substantive topics. We conclude by showing why these ethnographic comparisons can make crucial contributions to social science as a whole.

Academic Innovation Studio, Dwinelle Hall, Room 117

Co-sponsored by: Sociology


Center for Ethnographic Research
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University of California
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