Disability Anthropology Working Group / Events / Updates

The Body Multiple: Ontology in Medical Practice | Annemarie Mol (2002)

The Body Multiple: Ontology in Medical Practice | Annemarie Mol (2002)

A reading group discussion hosted by the Disability Anthropology Working Group

(Flyer attached)

February 25, 2 – 4 PM

The Ethnography Lab, Room 330, 19 Russell St. Toronto


Each month the Disability Anthropology Working group, in collaboration with the Ethnography Lab, hosts a reading discussion of an ethnography related to disability. The e-book is available for free through the UofT library. Coffee and snacks provided. All are welcome!


Book Description

The Body Multiple is an extraordinary ethnography of an ordinary disease. Drawing on fieldwork in a Dutch university hospital, Annemarie Mol looks at the day-to-day diagnosis and treatment of atherosclerosis. A patient information leaflet might describe atherosclerosis as the gradual obstruction of the arteries, but in hospital practice this one medical condition appears to be many other things. From one moment, place, apparatus, specialty, or treatment, to the next, a slightly different “atherosclerosis” is being discussed, measured, observed, or stripped away. This multiplicity does not imply fragmentation; instead, the disease is made to cohere through a range of tactics including transporting forms and files, making images, holding case conferences, and conducting doctor-patient conversations.

The Body Multiple juxtaposes two distinct texts. Alongside Mol’s analysis of her ethnographic material—interviews with doctors and patients and observations of medical examinations, consultations, and operations—runs a parallel text in which she reflects on the relevant literature. Mol draws on medical anthropology, sociology, feminist theory, philosophy, and science and technology studies to reframe such issues as the disease-illness distinction, subject-object relations, boundaries, difference, situatedness, and ontology. In dialogue with one another, Mol’s two texts meditate on the multiplicity of reality-in-practice.

Presenting philosophical reflections on the body and medical practice through vivid storytelling, The Body Multiple will be important to those in medical anthropology, philosophy, and the social study of science, technology, and medicine.


The Disability Anthropology Working Group

The Disability Anthropology Working Group brings together graduate students, faculty and other interested scholars whose research relates to the theme of disability in order to build a scholarly community and engage a wider academic public in disability theory and practice. Partnering with the Ethnography Lab, and organised by graduate students under the faculty supervision of Dr. Cassandra Hartblay, the working group facilitates the creation of a space to critically engage with ethnographic methods and ask how disability challenges many core tenets of anthropological enquiry.

Please contact hannah.quinn@mail.utoronto.ca or vanessa.maloney@mail.utoronto.ca for enquiries or to be added to our mailing list.

Our monthly reading group is open to all. Each month we chose an ethnography related to disability to discuss over coffee and snacks. Please feel free to join, even if your work is only peripherally related or if you are not able to read the whole book. The books scheduled this semester are:

Monday February 4th, 2-4pm : Jasbir K. Puar’s “The right to maim: Debility, capacity, disability” (2017)

Monday, February 25th, 2-4pm : Annemarie Mol’s “The body multiple: Ontology in medical practice” (2002)

Monday, March 25th, 2-4pm : Cheryl Mattingly’s “Moral laboratories: Family peril and the struggle for a good life” (2014)

Monday, April 22nd, 2-4pm : Erin Manning’s “The Minor Gesture” (2016)

Location: Room 330, The Ethnography Lab, UofT Anthropology Building, 19 Russell Street, Toronto, ON

Accessibility Information:

We are committed to meeting the accessibility needs of all working group members and welcome requests for accommodation on an ongoing basis. Each of the proposed books are available as hard copies and e-books through the University of Toronto Library. The Ethnography Lab is located on the 3rd floor of the Anthropology building, at 19 Russell Street, which is accessible via ramp, automatic doors and elevator. Beside the lab there are two all gender bathrooms and one that is wheelchair accessible. For accessibility requests and accomodations please contact hannah.quinn@mail.utoronto.ca or vanessa.maloney@mail.utoronto.ca .

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