Open ends: an ethnographic radio montage about post-diagnosis lives in Denmark and South Africa

Kathrin Houmøller, Anne Mia Steno

Publikation: Konferencebidrag uden forlag/tidsskriftAbstraktForskningpeer review


This presentation takes the form of a radio montage and presents stories of post-diagnosis lives in Denmark and urban South Africa. Based on ethnographic fieldworks with young people in psychiatric treatment (Denmark) and among hiv-positive people in anti-retroviral therapy (South Africa), the montage explores how successful treatment – and hence the end of sickness or imminent death – may be experienced as ambivalent in contexts characterized by instability. For the young people in psychiatric treatment, the fading of familiar voices and hallucinations through medicines is not simply a welcoming relief but also experienced as a loss of companionship and a growing sense of mistrust in the ‘truth’ of memories. And in South Africa, people in anti-retroviral therapy not only celebrate that hiv is no longer “the end of life” but also seek to reinstate the presence of the end (death) in order to act, socially, in a context of fragile relationships and economic insecurity. In bringing out these ambivalences, the montage throws light on the social orientations beyond treatment and addresses an anthropological call for a shift in attention away from disease exclusively and towards the mundane part of life. By drawing on the format of the radio montage, the presentation responds to the conference call for “the end of the boring conference paper” and experiments with the textures and thick descriptions embedded in the audio format. The interweaving of voices from the culturally very different contexts invites the listener to stand in the open, allowing for different interpretations and open ends.
StatusUdgivet - 2017
BegivenhedMEGA-seminar: The End -
Varighed: 16 aug. 201718 aug. 2017


KonferenceMEGA-seminar: The End


  • Sygdom, sundhedsvidenskab og sygepleje


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  • MEGA-seminar: The End

    Kathrin Houmøller (Oplægsholder)

    16 aug. 201718 aug. 2017

    Aktivitet: Tale eller præsentation - typerForedrag eller oplæg