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Beyond SurgeryInjury, Healing, and Religion at an Ethiopian Hospital$
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Anita Hannig

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780226457154

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: September 2017

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226457321.001.0001

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A Malleable World: Injury, Care, and Belonging

A Malleable World: Injury, Care, and Belonging

(p.31) One A Malleable World: Injury, Care, and Belonging
Beyond Surgery

Anita Hannig

University of Chicago Press

This chapter explores how Amhara men and women deal with the advent of obstetric fistula in their lives against the background of normative kin, marriage, and social conventions. How do relationships of care play out in a context of adversity? What kinds of negotiations do spousal arrangements undergo when one partner becomes debilitated by incontinence? And how might Amhara women’s enduring social obligations expose the inadequacy of the conventional “sick role” model? This chapter examines cultural mechanisms in Amhara society that tie individuals to larger networks of kin-based, conjugal, and societal obligations and shows how these ties are mobilized—and sometimes reconfigured—in the face of bodily injury. For example, the chapter focuses on the role of kin in extending care to a woman who becomes incontinent as a result of obstructed labor. It thus details the care-based quality of Amhara ways of belonging and some of the concerns around reciprocity and containment that animate marital and wider social relations. Against this background, it becomes evident that the contingencies of a woman’s experience with fistula—though exhausting and complicated—nearly always leave room for her to assert herself as a member of some kind of larger collective.

Keywords:   kinship, marriage, divorce, injury, belonging, care, obstetric fistula, Amhara, reciprocity, shame

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