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“Plantation Patienthood: Chronic Liver Disease and Health Activism in Nicaragua," by Alex Nading, LACS Weekly Seminar Series

Monday, March 21, 2022 at 1:00pm to 2:15pm

G-01 Stimson Hall

Co-Sponsor: Cornell University Public Health Program

This presentation draws from a chapter in Alex Nading's book in progress, Non-Traditional Causes: Kidney Disease, Climate Change, and Life Support in Nicaragua’s Sugar Plantation Zone. In it, he follows the treatment trajectories of former sugarcane plantation workers in Nicaragua who have been consigned to hemodialysis due to a novel condition called Chronic Kidney Disease of Non-Traditional Causes (CKDnt). In order to access dialysis treatment, these patients rely on the material and financial support of their former employers at the plantation company--a company whose labor and environmental policies they blame for the onset of CKDnt.  The talk describes how, joined together in a loose activist alliance, patients and their families confront the ambivalence of end-of-life care.  While many ethnographic studies have noted that dialysis can sever patients from the lives they had known prior to treatment, in the case Professor Nading describes, the treatment operates in a way that pulls patients more deeply into the social and economic fabric of the plantation.

Alex Nading is a medical and environmental anthropologist. His research, mostly focused on Nicaragua, has examined transnational campaigns against dengue fever, bacterial disease, and chronic kidney disease, as well as grassroots movements to address these issues. In all his work, he uses ethnographic methods to bring the theoretical concerns of medical anthropology together with those of critical environmental studies and science and technology studies. His teaching includes courses on the anthropology of global health, anthropological methods, and international development. He is also the editor of the journal Medical Anthropology Quarterly and is currently working on a book entitled Non-Traditional Causes: Kidney Disease, Climate Change, and Life Support in Nicaragua’s Sugar Plantation Zone from which his talk will be derived.

Keyword: Public Health

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Human Ecology Design and Environmental Analysis [DO NOT USE deprecated 1/23/23], Mario Einaudi Center for International Studies, Latino Studies Program, Anthropology, History, Government, Environmental Science, Latin American and Caribbean Studies, Global Cornell, Environment and Sustainability, Global Development, Division of Nutritional Sciences, MPA Program

University Themes

Diversity, Research

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William Phelan, LACS Program Manager

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Alex Nading, Associate Professor of Anthropology

Speaker Affiliation

Cornell University

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Open To

Free and open to the Cornell community in-person, in adherence with Cornell University's current COVID-19 guidance. Free and open to the public virtually via zoom

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