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Care Work and Healing Practices

Session XII-19, 2022 Annual Meeting

On Sunday, December 4 at 11:00 am

Panel Description
  • In the years following the 2011 revolution in Egypt, mental health “talk” has flourished throughout the urban middle class. Psychiatrists are hosted on prime-time talk-shows, characters in popular Ramadan shows suffer from mental health challenges, books on the topic increasingly appear in Arabic and social media act as a testimonial space for the many who now seek to share their “own story”. Globalized self-help exercises such as mediation and yoga appear alongside a newfound interest in the more local Sufi- practices. Simultaneously, conventional forms of psychotherapy are becoming increasingly popular as tools to manage individual psychic and emotional pain. In conversations with practitioners in the field, I have been made aware of the intense destigmatization the topic of mental health has undergone over the last decade. This project asks why this destigmatization has occurred at this precise historical moment. As such, I examine why affliction, as well as its healing practices is increasingly expressed through an individualized language of mental health. In exploring this, I place the phenomenon within the context of the recent years’ violent crackdowns, restrictions on communal dissent and an intense economic downturn in Egypt and propose these individual practices as cloaked forms of community care in a shared challenging present.
  • Urban renewal projects, most recently the realization of a costly commercial complex built near the capital’s historic downtown, have (re)shaped Amman’s topography as it has expanded outward, forcing many communities out of the city center to accordingly peripheral areas; in neighborhoods such as hashmī al-shamālī, slightly north-east of this latest investment in metropolitan development and growth, these contemporary dislocations have compounded the population stresses affected by earlier civil affrays throughout the region. Now proverbially ‘left behind’ in pursuance of large-scale municipal planning and ordinary organizational activities, those who remain as organizational attendants have become integral connective links, utilizing their personal and professional supports to temporarily mend individual lives touched by governmental and institutional disregard. In drawing on many months of dissertation fieldwork, this paper turns to the practices through which Khalida, the volunteer supervisor of one such organizational outpost in hashmī al-shamālī, enacts what she herself has typified r‘āīaa [‘care’]. In line with much recent important writing on care as acutely social, political, and relational from scholars such as Alize Arican, Carol Gilligan, and Sarah Marie Hall, I argue that the carework manifest by Khalida—prosaic, intimate, temporary—fixes an anomalous form of organizational occupation, one that genuinely takes on the lived realities of state neglect. Attending to the pressing and penetrating logics of care, this presentation locates Khalida’s care as a mechanism for material endurance at a most immediate scale: that of life and livelihood.
  • How do traumatic experiences continue to live in the body? Scholarly and popular accounts have gone to great lengths to show the lasting impact that traumatic experiences exert on the body, impacting not only the memories of victims but also their sensory capacities at the deepest level. Popular media depictions and international human rights regimes, however, continue to treat trauma as something visual. In this paper, I attempt to provide an account of trauma that resists such ocularcentrism by engaging what Martin Daughtry calls “the bellephonic,” the sounds that can be associated with combat (Daughtry 2015, 3). The overwhelming body of scholarly literature on PTSD addresses the experiences of soldiers rather than civilians, who also experience the bellephonic. In this paper I offer a fragmented “bellephonic audionarrative” (Daughtry 2015, 80) of the failed coup attempt in Ankara, Turkey on July 15, 2016 as a case study. I construct this narrative through a series of “listening acts,” which for Deborah Kapchan comprise “not just “objects” of the ethnographic ear, so to speak, but … a method of ethnographic translation” (2017, 277). Structured in three Acts that seek to operationalize such a mode of translation, autoethnographic vignette(s) focused on particular sonic phenomena from the event are offered, along with corroborating quantitative evidence and analysis from secondary literature. Much of what has been written about the sonic aspects of July 15 is set in Istanbul and is interested in the seeming contradiction of the bellephonic and ‘Islamic’ sounds converging (Basdurak 2020; Gill, 2016; Koymen, 2017; Öğüt 2016; Tremblay 2016). By contrast, this study operates through a handful of interventions: first, in terms of geography, by offering an account from a position in the capital, in downtown Ankara; second, in terms of scope, by prioritizing the bellephonic and nonverbal over mediated communications; and third, by including autoethnographic discussion of the long-term psychic impacts of the events. Act One emphasizes the sonic omnipresence of F-16 planes that night. Act Two uses seismographic data to quantify sonic booms experienced that night and discusses the bombing of Parliament. Act Three concludes with reflections on PTSD and exposure therapy as a healing modality. I demonstrate how “tactical listening” (Kapchan 2017, 284) may be engaged in a processual manner to ‘make sense’ of trauma experienced.
  • Understanding the role of Arab youth in civic engagement and political participation at a meso-level involves three main factors: the failure of education systems, constrained employment opportunities, and blocked channels of civic engagement, due to the extension of the traditional society and the political regime. However, evidence to the contrary suggests that government agencies are attempting to include youth in various programs as the Arab states transform into a diversified and advanced knowledge economy. These efforts also indicate that the youth must be engaged to ensure long-term excellence through the enhancement of their intellectual wellbeing and their contribution to policymaking processes. However, for these to happen, dramatic changes must be made to diversify and meet the needs of the population. The aim of this work is to use a national survey to address the level of youth civic engagement in the State of Qatar, as a unique setting, and its impact on empowering and increasing youth’s participation in their communities. Accordingly, the following topics warrant particular attention: • the new risks and challenges in integrating civic engagement responsibilities • the implications of pandemic containment policies and practices of the Qatar government for Qatari youth • innovative policies and solutions at the national and local levels that promote youth civic engagement in the post-pandemic society The findings highlight that the political participation and civic engagement of Qatari youth exacerbate existing social risks and create new political dynamics in social policymaking. This insight also poses new challenges for government agencies, calling for the implementation of youth policies in terms of (1) the experiences of youth involved in civic engagement activities, (2) the existing gaps in social protection systems and political participation, and (3) the response of the government to these gaps and the future of work.
  • On December 28th, 2011, Turkish F-16 jets bombed a group of individuals crossing the Iraqi-Turkish border near the village of Roboski, 50 km from the nearest city of Şırnak. Soon it became clear that the group of 36 was traveling back from Northern Iraq, bringing gas, tea, and cigarettes to sell in the domestic market. This routine smuggling activity, well-known to local bureaucrats and military personnel, has historically been a significant source of livelihood in the region yet led to the destruction of 34 people by four bombs that night. Nineteen of the deceased were under 18 years old, most others in their 20s. No official apology came forward. No one was brought to justice. This was not the first time that security forces killed children and youth. Nor was it the first or last time that extrajudicial killings by the state went unpunished. While the Roboski incident indicates an episode of a long and global history of state violence, I use it to examine the conditions of being young in contemporary Turkey. Dominant political and popular imaginaries often associate youth with viability and vitality. However, the Roboski incident is one of many episodes that indicate the vulnerability of youth and the imminence of death, particularly in the margins of the society, for Kurdish youth, young women, poor and working-class youth, and young youth dissidents. Hence, this paper engages with two main questions: what does the immature death tell us about the structures of power, discrimination, and violence in a country? Can we examine how young people die in a country to understand their life chances? The paper will answer these questions by focusing on three patterns of immature death, unidentified killings or killings by armed forces, young women killed by men, and suicides.
  • In this paper, I document that governments in Muslim majority countries express more responsiveness to citizens' economic concerns in the Islamic month of Ramadan. They expand their protections to lower-income groups and make symbolic gestures in their support. Given that, I argue that these actions aim at signaling two qualities about incumbents: capacity and goodness. This is employed to cultivate more political support among their religious populations and absorb potential public discontent due to economic insecurities in the religious season. This argument is demonstrated using case-studies from various Muslim majority countries in the MENA region.