Senses and Sensibilities: The Practice of Care in Everyday Life in Northern Thailand

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Senses and Sensibilities: The Practice of Care in Everyday Life in Northern Thailand

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Title: Senses and Sensibilities: The Practice of Care in Everyday Life in Northern Thailand
Author: Aulino, Felicity
Citation: Aulino, Felicity. 2012. Senses and Sensibilities: The Practice of Care in Everyday Life in Northern Thailand. Doctoral dissertation, Harvard University.
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Abstract: This is a dissertation about care. Based on over ten years of experience with Southeast Asia and sixteen months of ethnographic research for this project, I address the issue of caregiving primarily from the perspective of those providing care at home for elderly people in urban Northern Thailand and from the vantage point of national and international public health initiatives aimed at supporting such endeavors. In turn, I use the intimate experiences of caregivers to interrogate the politics of aging, long-term care, and national identity. What emerges is an understanding of caregiving different from that of liberal humanitarianism and biomedicine alike. With a focus on social relationships and embodied care practices, I show how forms of attention, obligation, giving, and receiving in urban Thai settings do not always equate with their counterparts in standard global health accounts. Instead, local values are put into action with significant ramifications for the performance and promotion of care. I examine local and global techniques of power and care embedded in the growing number of volunteer organizations directed at the elderly. With attention to class, religion, and history, I trace the interpersonal, social, and political influences reflected in caregiver subjectivity and propose a distinctly Thai logic of psychosocial support that underlies the experience of the caregivers and aid workers with whom I worked. Examining family dynamics and the stories people tell about the future, I trace a new imaginary for long-term care at play, apparent at both the individual and the institutional level. And I develop the concept of the "social body," arguing that attention to and care of the collective is crucial for making sense not only of the disorienting varieties of volunteerism marking the shifting ground of long-term and end-of-life care in Thailand, but also of the larger scale political upheavals afoot in that country today.
Terms of Use: This article is made available under the terms and conditions applicable to Other Posted Material, as set forth at http://nrs.harvard.edu/urn-3:HUL.InstRepos:dash.current.terms-of-use#LAA
Citable link to this page: http://nrs.harvard.edu/urn-3:HUL.InstRepos:9423078
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