Special seminar medical care and visual imaging in Cambodia

Date and Time:  February 10th, 2023  16:00 to 17:30
Place: Tonantei, (2nd floor Inamori Memorial Foundation Building)

Title:  Fixing the Image: Ultrasound and the Visuality of Care in Phnom Penh
Speaker: Jenna Grant (University of Washington)

Abstract :
In Fixing the Image Jenna Grant theorizes the force and appeal of medical imaging, particularly ultrasound, in the rapidly changing urban landscape of Phnom Penh. Introduced around 1990, at the twilight of socialism and after two decades of conflict and upheaval, ultrasound took root in humanitarian and then privatized medicine, offering the promise of diagnostic information and better prenatal and general health care. Drawing from years of ethnographic fieldwork and archival research, Grant shows how the generative appeal of the mechanized medical image connects to associations of technology with the modernity of the postcolonial nation, the authority of skilled vision in medicine and Theravada Buddhism, and the economics of health care in Cambodia’s present-day authoritarian capitalism. Set within the new abundance of image-making technologies and new aesthetic possibilities, ultrasound offers stabilizing knowledge and elicits desire and pleasure, particularly for pregnant women. Grant off ers the concept of “fi xing”– which invokes repair, stabilization, and a dose of something to which one is addicted—to illuminate how ultrasound is entangled with practices of care and neglect across diff erent domains. Fixing the Image, thus, provides a method for studying technological practice in terms of specifi c materialities and capacities of technologies—in this case, image production and the permeability of the body—and specifi cities of culture, history, and political economy in medicine.

About the speaker:
Jenna Grant is associate professor of anthropology and faculty at the Southeast Asia Center at the University of Washington, Seattle, USA. Grant’s research questions, methods, and commitments extend in three different directions: medical imaging and visual practices of health care in Phnom Penh; Cambodia as a site of experimental global health sciences; and experiments in collective care in Cambodia and the U.S. Her book, Fixing the Image: Ultrasound and the Visuality of Care in Phnom Penh (2022), was recently published by UW Press. Grant teaches undergraduate and graduate courses about the anthropology of technology, visuality and medicine, Southeast Asia, and sociocultural theory.

Inquiry: Y Hayami