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Suturing the world : the micro-practices of care and the politics of life in Chiang Mai

Seo, Bo Kyeong

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Based on eighteen months of fieldwork between 2010 and 2012, this thesis examines how universal health coverage is shaped and experienced in Thailand. How might such an ambitious social project that aims to ensure every citizen access to a full-range of health services become feasible in a socially divided, politically unstable, lower-middle-income country like Thailand? This thesis investigates the establishment of universal health coverage not as a given condition but as a political and moral...[Show more]

dc.contributor.authorSeo, Bo Kyeong
dc.date.accessioned2019-02-18T23:45:17Z
dc.date.available2019-02-18T23:45:17Z
dc.date.copyright2015
dc.identifier.otherb3732684
dc.identifier.urihttp://hdl.handle.net/1885/156303
dc.description.abstractBased on eighteen months of fieldwork between 2010 and 2012, this thesis examines how universal health coverage is shaped and experienced in Thailand. How might such an ambitious social project that aims to ensure every citizen access to a full-range of health services become feasible in a socially divided, politically unstable, lower-middle-income country like Thailand? This thesis investigates the establishment of universal health coverage not as a given condition but as a political and moral work in progress. How is the provision of care perceived, enacted, and assembled in the frontline of the Thai public health care system? What kinds of political subjectivities are implicated in the mundane and extraordinary struggles to make care accessible and durable? With special focus on the human stakes of health care for poor Thai and non-citizen Shan migrant populations, this thesis offers new ethnographic insights into the significance of micro-practices of care for the politics of life. Situated in a district hospital on the periphery of Chiang Mai City, I examine the multiple circuits of care threaded through everyday socio-cultural practice. Practices of care and their implications are multi-dimensional. Beginning with the workings of the public hospital, I show how caring and governing are interrelated. While the promise of the universal health coverage policy is mitigated by rules of eligibility and entitlement, hospital staff's aspirations to realize a government of care make this policy substantively universal. Ethnic minorities and Shan migrants in vulnerable situations actively utilize Thai public hospitals, navigating the perils of receiving the gift of care. I show how they elicit state care and secure a foothold in the political community through artful practices of being governed. In their struggles to maintain their family amidst structural violence and precariousness Shan women also employ tactics of creative subsistence that make life liveable. At junctures when the desire to care exceeds the boundaries of belonging and sameness, I explore how critically ill neonates and spiritual entities-alien others who hover at the margins of life-are drawn into alliances of care. I conceptualize the 'desire to care' as a conjunctural expression of the life-intensifying proclivities of medical, state, and spiritual sovereignty and argue that practices of care, even in micro forms, nourish potentials to create a sphere of relations and a politics of life. Highlighting people's intertwined experience of freedom and obligation, autonomy and dependence, I demonstrate how individual and collective pursuits of formulating relations of care dismantle and reassemble the notion of universal citizenship and entitlement. At its core, this thesis reorients care as a suturing and sutured state, practice that acts upon the world, and value accumulated by practice, which repairs, envisions, and transforms the human condition in a provisionary but concrete manner.
dc.format.extent235 leaves.
dc.titleSuturing the world : the micro-practices of care and the politics of life in Chiang Mai
dc.typeThesis (PhD)
local.description.notesThesis (Ph.D.)--Australian National University, 2015.
dc.date.issued2015
local.contributor.affiliationAustralian National University. School of Culture, History & Language
local.identifier.doi10.25911/5d5140e22fa76
dc.date.updated2019-01-10T08:38:34Z
local.mintdoimint
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