Negotiating Structural Vulnerability in Cancer Control: Contemporary Challenges for Applied Anthropology

Short Seminar

September 24–25, 2014

Negotiating Structural Vulnerability in Cancer Control: Contemporary Challenges for Applied Anthropology seminar participantsNegotiating Structural Vulnerability in Cancer Control: Contemporary Challenges for Applied Anthropology seminar participants
Negotiating Structural Vulnerability in Cancer Control: Contemporary Challenges for Applied Anthropology seminar participants

Globally, nations and international entities are exploring ways of expanding health care access. Anthropologists have examined how social context shapes people’s sense of vulnerability to cancer and access to care, but less is known about the social conditions that produce vulnerability. This seminar focused on cancer control research among structurally vulnerable populations, shifting the analytic focus from the individual to the individual in her social, economic, and cultural contexts to offer insight into such “bottom line” concerns as lowering the cost of care and improving health outcomes, while also addressing, and potentially ameliorating, the effects of social inequality. Participants addressed structural vulnerability in a variety of populations and contexts by exploring the social conditions that produce vulnerability.

The goals of the seminar were to: 1) theoretically explore the concept of structural vulnerability as it pertains to cancer control; 2) examine its utility for data interpretation in trans- and interdisciplinary research; and 3) explore its possibilities for building bridges between disciplines in applied cancer research and in a variety settings. Participants found, “Through the course of the discussion, it became clear that the lens of structural vulnerability in cancer control illuminates the pervasive nature of institutional violence in cancer prevention, treatment, and research.” In addition, “The broad scope of the papers also illustrated the range of vulnerabilities experienced and produced by differently positioned individuals: researchers, patients, healthcare paraprofessionals, caregivers, and staff of community-based organizations.”

Seminar co-chairs report that the next steps for participants are “revising their case studies for participation a plenary scheduled during the 2015 Society for Applied Anthropology Annual Meeting. These papers will form the basis of an edited volume that will use cancer control studies to explore the concept and utility of structural vulnerability in healthcare and public health settings.”

Julie Armin, Chair Doctoral Candidate/Research Coordinator, Anthropology and Family & Community Medicine, University of Arizona Bringing the People into Policy: Managing Cancer among Structurally Vulnerable Women
Nancy Burke, Chair Associate Professor of Medical Anthropology, Department of Anthropology, History, and Social Medicine, UC - San Francisco Stuck in the Middle: Patient Navigation and Cancer Clinical Trials Recruitment in the Safety Net
Laura Eichelberger, Chair Cancer Prevention Fellow, Nutritional Epidemiological Branch, National Cancer Institute Epidemiologic Transition or Invisibility? Structural Vulnerability and Gastric Cancer in Global Health
Karen Dyer Postdoctoral Fellow, Social and Behavioral Health, Virginia Commonwealth University Structural Vulnerability and Cancer Care in Puerto Rico
Simon Craddock Lee Assistant Professor, Department of Clinical Sciences, UT Southwestern Medical Center Discussant
James Quesada Professor, Department of Anthropology, San Francisco State University Discussant
Carolyn Sargent Professor, Department of Anthropology, Washington University in St. Louis Cancer and Precarity: Rights and Vulnerabilities of West African Immigrants in France
Susan Shaw Associate Professor, School of Anthropology, University of Arizona Anxious Provocations: Engagements with Cancer Screening by the Medically Underserved
Nicholas Sheon Assistant Professor, Department of Medicine, UC - San Francisco Guinea Pigs to your Success: Ethnographic Perspectives on Barriers to Minority Participation in HIV and Cancer Research
Maria Stalford Ph.D. Candidate, Department of Anthropology, Harvard University Negotiating Structural Vulnerability: Contemporary Challenges for Applied Anthropology

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