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HRI Lunchtime Seminar, Annemarie Samuels

Monday, November 27, 2017
12:30pm – 2:00pm

Storrs Campus
Dodd Center 162

Human Rights Institute Lunchtime Seminar with Annemarie Samuels, Assistant Professor Institute of Cultural Anthropology and Development Sociology, Leiden University

"What is (good) care? HIV and narrative navigation in Aceh, Indonesia"

Monday, November 27, 2017 12:30 - 2:00 p.m. Room 162 Thomas J. Dodd Research Center, Storrs Campus **Lunch will be provided

In this talk I analyze processes of narrative navigation – by which I mean the subjective and intersubjective ways in which people struggle through troubling events by constructing multiple, ambiguous and often incoherent narratives – as central to interactions of peer support workers, medical staff, and HIV patients in Aceh, Indonesia. I discuss how care workers and patients create, reinforce, discard, or ignore possible narratives of care in a context of limited access to healthcare. These narratives are not crafted as straightforward and coherent stories; rather, they are ambiguous, subjunctive and frequently changing as situations and relationships evolve. As such, these stories show how in the polyvalent space of the clinic, care is not always perceived as “good” care by all involved and at all moments. Instead, the ways in which caretakers and patients struggle through situations of severe illness evince the possibilities and the limits of narratives in creating commensurability and beneficial ways of caring. They demand that we approach the problem of what (good) care is as an empirical question that may have varying answers for the same persons over time.

The intersubjective possibilities of care in Indonesia emerge within the larger social conditions of the transition to universal health coverage, efforts to fight HIV/AIDS, and stigmatization of HIV patients. What does the right to healthcare mean in this setting? I suggest that focusing on processes of narrative navigation reveals how care, in and beyond the clinic, is both shaped by biopolitics and emerges as an ambiguous and creative practice.

Annemarie Samuels is an Assistant Professor at Leiden University and a Marie-Sklowdowska Curie Global Fellow at Harvard University. Her current research project focuses on narratives, silences and subjunctivity in HIV care in the Indonesian province of Aceh. Prior to this, she studied the remaking of everyday life after the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami in the same region. The results of that study have been published in, amongst others, American Anthropologist and the Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute. Annemarie is co-editor (with Michael Feener and David Kloos) of the edited volume Islam and the Limits of the State: Reconfigurations of Practice, Community and Authority in Contemporary Aceh (Brill, 2015).

To request reasonable accommodations for people with disabilities and for any other questions regarding this event, please contact


Human Rights Institute (primary), Anthropology Department, UConn Master Calendar

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