CFP: The Struggle Over Text and Context in the Healthcare Industry: Where Is Anthropological Insight

Via Lissie Wahl-Kleiser:

Lissie Wahl-Kleiser, Seth D. Hannah, Michael T. Nathan

Contextualization is sine que non for anthropological interpretation. Applied industries, in contrast, favor literal interpretation of written and oral communication. Contextualization is notoriously absent from interpreting industry codes of ethics and standards of practice and when mentioned at all, it is given marginal attention. Does anthropology have anything to offer the processes of interpretation outside its own discipline? If so, how, when, and where? Do interpreters and the institutions they work for have flexibility to employ a more contextualized approach to interpretation? Might such questions uncover other struggles and negotiations over meaning? What is the consequence of decontextualized interpretation in diverse situations? What kinds of processes and forces obstruct contextualization? Absolute answers to these questions cannot exist, as cases and contexts vary?

We invite anthropologists working with a cultural, social, medical, psychological, linguistic or political economic focus to think about the space given to context when interpreting medical communication in diverse institutional settings. While the organizers of this session have been conducting research on medical interpreting, we welcome those interested in furthering thinking about medical communication in diverse institutional contexts.

We invite presenters to compare institutional factors calling for the existence of literal translations and interpretations as opposed to those in which the meaning or sense of a text are additionally arrived at by incorporating context. We want to explore the degrees, circumstances and processes by which institutional forces promote or limit the emergence and incorporation of context in medical communication and the possible consequences of this. We invite participants to analyze the kinds of interaction that are allowed, prohibited or struggled over in a given institutional setting during interpretation, whether formally, informally, or some combination of both. We invite participants to discuss the role of history and power in hindering or promoting the kind of interaction that allows for the contextualization of meaning in medical communication.

We ask that presenters use ”field material,” in addition to theory. We request as well that each presenter consider how anthropological insight might enrich those fields of work each has researched. Time will be allotted for comparative discussion. It is our purpose to arrive at concepts, processes, and guidelines that underline the need for context in the process of communication in medical settings and industries.

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