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Stacey A. Langwick
I am an anthropologist of healing and medicine in Africa. I teach both undergraduate and graduate courses on medicine, the body, postcolonial science, global health and Africa.
I am also the lead faculty member for the Qualities of Life working group in the Mario Einaudi International Studies Center and a co-organizer of the Ecological Learning Collaboratory.
Anthropology of medicine, healing and the body. Ethnography of care and chronicity. Postcolonial science studies. Intellectual property. Anthropology of knowledge/materiality. Ontological Politics. Cultural theory. African ethnography. Tanzania.
- Africana Studies and Research Center
- Feminist, Gender & Sexuality Studies Program
- Science and Technology Studies
- Africana Studies
- Feminist, Gender, & Sexuality Studies
- Science and Technology Studies
- Institute for African Development
- Global Health Program
My first book Bodies, Politics and African Healing examines how healers in Tanzania are generating new ways of conceptualizing the body and bodily threats as they confront a changing therapeutic landscape dominated by AIDS and malaria – and all the circulating technologies, inscriptions, bodies, experts, policies, bureaucratic formations and ethical regimes these disease entities entail. In this work, I attend closely to the ontological politics of healing in Tanzania (that is, struggles of who and what constitutes the realm of the real).
I am currently working on two research projects. The first -- The Politics of Habitability: Plants, Sovereignty and Healing in a Toxic World -- accounts for the rise of a new form of therapy in Tanzania, referred to by some as dawa lishe, or nutritious medicines. This emergent field of practice reorganizes relations between agriculture and medicine in order to articulate the threats to well-being that structure the contemporary moment and to experiment with responses. Through it Tanzanians explore: what forms of vitality, of growth, are possible today? Who and what can grow ampler and more vital in Tanzania and how? I examine how dawa lishe translates and (re)configures notions of medicine, property, chronicity and crisis that are fundamental to global health. I argue that in the process of exploring that which is required to sustain, to endure, and to thrive, Tanzanian herbal producers are articulating a politics of habitability.
The second -- (Un)ethical Substances: The Power of Skin in East Africa – is a newer project interested in efforts to stop the current wave of attacks on people with albinism are struggles over what skin is at the beginning of this millennium. I am tracking the ways that political and therapeutic projects concerning albinism in Africa are elaborating and solidifying some notions of skin and understandings of its vitality, while they refuse, deny, or ignore others. Ethnographically I am interested in how the vitality of skin has come to matter differently in healing, medicine, witchcraft, advocacy and love and how it has come to embody both political and therapeutic potential. Two primary questions drive this fieldwork: What conditions the powers and potentials – the capacities and vulnerabilities – of skin in East Africa at the turn of the millennium? How do these powers structure acts of violence and care, harming and healing? Conflicts over the power of skin in Africa demand a careful rethinking of the politics of postcolonial bodies. In this research, Langwick is interested in the forms of knowledge and practice that shape the capacities and vulnerabilities of skin in East Africa, and that come to constitute the space of both pleas for humanity and articulations of the humane.
In recent years, my work has been funded by the National Science Foundation, Wenner-Gren Foundation, Fulbright Foundation, the Mellon Foundation, the Cornell Society for the Humanities, the Institute for Social Sciences at Cornell and the Einaudi Center for International Studies. As a Mellon New Directions Fellow, I studied intellectual property law (2011-2012) with particular interest changing regimes of property in relation to plants and therapeutic knowledge.
Medicine, Mobility, and Power in Global Africa: Transnational Health and Healing. Co-edited with Hansjoerg Dilger and Abdoulaye Kane Indianapolis: Indiana University Press. 2012
Bodies, Politics, and African Healing: The Matter of Maladies in Tanzania. Bloomington: Indiana University Press. 2011
in preparation. “Troubling Rights: Therapeutic Plants, Intellectual Property, and Modern Herbalism in Tanzania,” Osiris Special issue 2021.
2018. “A Politics of Habitability: Plants, Healing and Sovereignty in a Toxic World.” Cultural Anthropology 33(3): 415-443.
2017. Liwa, A., R. Roediger, H. Jaka, A. Bougaila, L. Smart, S. Langwick and R. Peck. “Herbal and Alternative Medicine Use in Tanzanian Adults Admitted with Hypertension-related Diseases: A Mixed-methods Study,” International Journal of Hypertension 3:1-9.
2015. “Partial Publics: The Political Promise of Traditional Medicine in Africa.” Current Anthropology 63(4) August, with commentaries by by Rajshree Chandra, Rosemary Coombe, Ruth Prince, Noelle Sullivan, and Claire Wendland.
2012. "Agitating for Hope, Learning to Care." Comments on Clare Wendland's article, "Animating Biomedicine's Moral Order: The Crisis of Practice in Malawian Medical Training," Current Anthropology.
2010. From Non-Aligned Medicines to Market-based herbals: China's relationship to the Shifting Politics of Traditional Medicine in Tanzania. Medical Anthropology.
2008. Articulate(d) Bodies: Traditional Medicine in a Tanzanian Hospital. American Ethnologist.
2007. Devils, Parasites and Fierce Needles: Healing and the Politics of Translation in Southeastern Tanzania. Science, Technology, and Human Values.
forthcoming. “Healing in the Anthropocene.” In Keiichi Omura, Atsuro Morita, Shiho Satsuka and Grant Jun Otsuki (eds.) The World Multiple: Politics of Knowing and Generating Entangled Worlds. Routledge. Publication anticipated in November.
2017. “The Value of Secrets: Pragmatic Healers and Proprietary Knowledge.” In William Olsen and Carolyn Sargent (eds.) African Medical Pluralism. Indiana University Press. Pp. 31-49.
2012. “The Choreography of Global Subjection: The Traditional Birth Attendant in Contemporary Configurations of World Health.” In Dilger, Kane, and Langwick (eds.) Medicine, Mobility, and Power in Global Africa: Transnational Health and Healing. Indiana University Press.
2012. “Introduction,” Transnational Medicine, Mobile Experts: Globalization, Health and Power In & Beyond Africa (co-written with Hansjoerg Dilger and Abdoulaye Kane). In Dilger, Kane, and Langwick (eds.) Medicine, Mobility, and Power in Global Africa: Transnational Health and Healing. Indiana University Press.
2011 hardcover/2017 paperback. “Healers and Scientists: The Epistemological Politics of Research about Medicinal Plants in Tanzania, or “Moving Away from Traditional Medicine.”” In Geissler and Molyneux (eds.) Evidence, Ethos and Experiment: The Anthropology and History of Medical Research in Africa. Berghahn Books. Pp. 263-295.
2006. “Geographies of Medicine: Interrogating the Boundary between ‘Traditional’ and ‘Modern’ Medicine in Colonial Tanganyika.” In Tracy J. Luedke and Harry G. West (eds.) Borders and Healers: Brokering Therapeutic Resources in Southeast Africa. Indiana University Press. Pp. 143-165.
2018. “Cultivating Vitality: A Photo Essay,” Anthropology News website, 24 January.
News and Events
"Stacey Langwick receives fellowship for work on toxicity and healing" https://www.einaudi.cornell.edu/news/stacey-langwick-receives-fellowship-work-toxicity-and-healing
Food and Healing Justice workshop I, Ecological Learning Collaboratory http://news.cornell.edu/stories/2018/06/collaboratory-shares-ideas-food-healing-justice
"Anthropologist explores toxicity and healing in East Africa" http://news.cornell.edu/stories/2017/05/anthropologist-explores-toxicity-and-healing-east-africa
Planting Futures Garden, Qualities of Life working group http://news.cornell.edu/essentials/2016/12/campus-pauses-reflect-future
"Langwick Awarded Institute for Social Sciences Grant" http://anthropology.cornell.edu/langwick-awarded-institute-social-sciences-grant
"Langwick wins grant to study African Law" http://news.cornell.edu/stories/2013/01/langwick-wins-grant-study-african-law-medicine