Vital Politics: Medicine and Citizenship in Venezuela, by Amy Ellen Cooper.

Civic participation in the administration of public healthcare in contemporary Venezuela is an opportunity to enact citizenship and negotiate and contest the government’s provision of services. As Amy Cooper explains, the participation of Venezuelans in the country’s newly public medical institutions represents not only a change in how individuals perceive health, but also in how citizenship in Venezuela has become “medically mediated” (p. 6). In her dissertation, Cooper reexamines anthropological understanding of “medical citizenship” to explain new meanings of health and health practices in relation to political subjectivities and citizenship among residents of a working class neighborhood in Caracas’ historic district. By focusing on “patienthood” and the people’s involvement in the state welfare system known as Misión Barrio Adentro, Cooper deconstructs the complex features that characterize medico-political affairs in contemporary Venezuela. This dissertation investigates how seeking better health is about more than just curing a “broken body but about a new sense of agency over one’s body and health and de-marginalizing oneself physically, socially and politically” (p. 116).

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