"Social suffering" takes in the human consequences of war, famine, depression, disease, torture--the whole assemblage of human problems that result from what political, economic, and institutional power does to people--and also human responses to social problems as they are influenced by those forms of power. In the same way that the notion of social suffering breaks down boundaries between specific scholarly disciplines, this cross-disciplinary investigation allows us to see the twentieth century in a new frame, with new emphases. Anthropologists, historians, literary theorists, social medicine experts, and scholars engaged in the study of religion join together to investigate the cultural representations, collective experiences, and professional and popular appropriations of human suffering in the world today. These authors contest traditional research and policy approaches. Recognizing that neither the cultural resources of tradition nor those of modernity's various programs seem adequate to cope with social suffering in our times, they base their distinctive vision on the understanding that moral, political, and medical issues cannot be kept separate.
Arthur Kleinman is Maude and Lilian Presley Professor of Medical Anthropology and Chair of the Department of Social Medicine at Harvard Medical School and Professor of Anthropology at Harvard University. His most recent book is Writing at the Margin (California, 1996). Veena Das is Professor of Sociology at the University of Delhi and author of Critical Events: An Anthropological Approach to Contemporary India (1995). Margaret Lock, Professor in the departments of Social Studies of Medicine and of Anthropology at McGill University, is author of Encounters with Aging (California, 1993) and coeditor of Knowledge, Power and Practice (California, 1993).
CONTRIBUTORS: Talal Asad J. W. Bowker Stanley Cavell E. Valentine Daniel Veena Das Paul Farmer Anne Harrington Arthur Kleinman Joan Kleinman Lawrence L. Langer Margaret Lock David B. Morris Mamphela Ramphele Vera Schwarcz Tu Wei-ming Allan Young