Stroke and In/capacities: Personal Implications for Recovery When State Goals and Local Contexts Don't Match

12-1 pm

Giddings House 212, Department of Anthropology

Narelle Warren, Senior Lecturer in Anthropology and Sociology, Monash University, Melbourne

Malaysia is a middle-income country in the midst of rapid economic and social development, where health systems and health status have been in transition for at least the past decade. Public health guidelines for non-communicable diseases are well-developed, based on the aspiration to become a high-income country within the next five years, drawing on best practice guidelines from highly industrialized settings. Yet, at the local level, a number of social, cultural, and health system barriers exist, preventing their implementation in practice. In her work on recovery in rural Johor, Malaysia, Warren finds that people who experience stroke experience delays to appropriate biomedical treatment, if it is received at all, and little to no inpatient treatment or rehabilitation, both of which result in increased disability. What this means for individuals who experience stroke stands in dramatic contrast to the imagery of progress: the state, despite strong and proactive policies, remains silent and absent. Instead, family and other community members scaffold stroke recovery, which is often incomplete and unsatisfying. Warren engages with the emerging anthropological body of research on contextual affordances and disability, in order to consider how state policies around rehabilitation are brought to bear—or not, as it is in her study—at the local level. 

Warren’s research, based in Australia and Malaysia, is situated at the nexus of global public health, aging, neurological disability, and practices of care. She has published widely across these areas and is co-editor, with Lenore Manderson, of Reframing Quality of Life and Physical Disability: A Global Perspective (2013).