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The Body Multiple: Ontology in Medical Practice

(Science and Cultural Theory)

4.21  ·  Rating details ·  183 ratings  ·  10 reviews
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 t ...more
Paperback, 216 pages
Published January 17th 2003 by Duke University Press Books (first published 2002)
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Jan 13, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Perhaps a foreign concept to many (as it certainly was to me), Mol's aim is for an ethnography of disease, specifically as it is enacted through various modes of interactions among various agents, with the subsequent result being a multiplicity of different (potential) realities to this singular object we have come to call "atherosclerosis." However, rather than being a trivial exercise in semantics, her argument builds up to an activist tone toward the end, posing questions that can perhaps gui ...more
Tomás Narvaja
Jun 07, 2018 rated it it was amazing
A great book where Annemarie Mol questions not the epistemological approaches to atherosclerosis, but rather looks at the multiple ontologies of atherosclerosis made in different sites across a hospital. It does a great job of answering and demonstrating how a single object, like the body (not bodies), can be multiple and still hang together (a question that Lisa Blackman also asks). To me it really demonstrates an analogous example of the 2 slit experiment Karen Barad discusses, where the elect ...more
Sep 12, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Fantastic situated theory, compelling and acute yet clear writing. Made me rethink dichotomies and their multiplying.
Oct 08, 2010 rated it liked it
I don't know what to think of this one yet. It's not an ethnography, it's a mixture of really smart playing with genres and a bit of smoke and mirrors. Two parallel texts the upper supposedly ethnographic and the bottom supposedly theoretical. But really, they're both theoretical. And the book is not about arteriosclerosis or really even about the body. In its own vocabulary, it does political ontology (err, enacts political ontology) via the body. Things I like: the notion of the body as (as pe ...more
Nuno Carrilho
Sep 06, 2015 rated it it was amazing
One of the best books I ever read that joins ethnography and literature review without losing the focus: arteriosclerosis as an object, multiple and multi paradigmatic and even thou, it still make it to survive. Arteriosclerosis really lives in those places, totally different and separated from each other and the way they manage to survive in so different paradigmatic ways of seeing it and dealing with it.
One excellent book to understand the complexities of the objects and go further than seeing
Jan 17, 2015 rated it liked it
The book, its focus and aim, and unique construction are interesting, but to what end? Particularly given her reticence with regard to collaboration and the absence of an applied component to Mol's anthropology, the work presents a compelling depiction that ultimately garners no real academic or tangible gain.
Apr 04, 2012 rated it really liked it
Thought provoking and written in a lovely clear style that made it a pleasure to read. The untraditional format--a literal subtext below the main text containing the ethnography--was surprisingly easy to get used to. The linkages between the two portions made toggling back and forth (at least that's how I read it) intuitive.
Oct 17, 2016 rated it it was amazing
What a strange, fascinating book. Mol illuminates the way that the body and other subjects/objects are enacted in multiple forms through a "praxiological" inquiry which foregrounds ontological (rather than epistemological) enactment (rather than construction). In many ways, this study aligns with Bruno Latour's "modes of existence" project. Lots to think about here.
Oct 19, 2008 rated it really liked it
Shelves: partly-read
While I haven't actually finished reading the entire book, what I have read is very interesting. The book is written cleverly with an Ethnographic account along the top of each page, and the relation to theory along the bottom. Its a bit strange at first and her style is refreshingly personal for an academic text. But definitely something to re-read.
Elizabeth C
Apr 30, 2016 rated it liked it
Not quite ethnography and not quite theory. Mol doesn't guide the reader in her method and this can be good or bad depending on how you look at it. A bit overrated but still interesting.
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