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  • Illustrations  ix

    Prologue  xiii

    Preface  xvii

    Introduction  1

    Part I.

    1. Reliving the Epidemic: Parents' Perspectives  29

    2. When Caregivers Fail: Doctors, Nurses, and Healers Facing an Intractable Disease  76

    3. Explaining the Inexplicable in Mukoboina: Epidemiologists, Documents, and the Dialogue That Failed  109

    4. Heroes, Bureaucrats, and Millenarian Wisdom: Journalists Cover an Epidemic Conflict  127

    Part II.

    5. Narratives, Communicative Monopolies, and Acute Health Inequities  159

    6. Knowledge Production and Circulation  179

    7. Laments, Psychoanalysis, and the Work of Mourning  205

    8. Biomediatization: Health/Communicative Inequities and Health News  225

    9. Toward Health/Communicative Equities and Justice  245

    Conclusion  260

    Acknowledgments  275

    Notes  279

    References  287

    Index  303
  • "Although these are theory-rich, complicated concepts, the authors write in a style that is both approachable and easy to follow. Highly recommended."


  • "Although these are theory-rich, complicated concepts, the authors write in a style that is both approachable and easy to follow. Highly recommended."

  • "A shocking testimony of a reality that challenges us. Again Charles L. Briggs and Clara Mantini-Briggs give us irrefutable evidence of the greatest contradiction of the market society: the opulence of a few and misery for the many. Their account of the distressing but institutionally invisible reproduction of an avoidable epidemic confirms the revealing power of critical ethnography and places on the table of public health the role that communication plays in the social determination of health."  — Jaime Breilh, Universidad Andina Simón Bolivar, Sede Ecuador

    "Tell Me Why My Children Died is a product of intrepid inquiry, original analytical work, and, above all, deep respect and care for the most vulnerable in the Lower Delta. This book is a pathbreaking contribution to the anthropology of expert knowledge and health inequality, and a powerfully crafted field guide for a global health humanities."  — João Biehl, author of Vita: Life in a Zone of Social Abandonment

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  • Description

    Tell Me Why My Children Died tells the gripping story of indigenous leaders' efforts to identify a strange disease that killed thirty-two children and six young adults in a Venezuelan rain forest between 2007 and 2008. In this pathbreaking book, Charles L. Briggs and Clara Mantini-Briggs relay the nightmarish and difficult experiences of doctors, patients, parents, local leaders, healers, and epidemiologists; detail how journalists first created a smoke screen, then projected the epidemic worldwide; discuss the Chávez government's hesitant and sometimes ambivalent reactions; and narrate the eventual diagnosis of bat-transmitted rabies. The book provides a new framework for analyzing how the uneven distribution of rights to produce and circulate knowledge about health are wedded at the hip with health inequities. By recounting residents' quest to learn why their children died and documenting their creative approaches to democratizing health, the authors open up new ways to address some of global health's most intractable problems. 

    About The Author(s)

    Charles L. Briggs is Alan Dundes Distinguished Professor in the Department of Anthropology, University of California, Berkeley, and the author or coauthor of ten books. 
    Clara Mantini-Briggs, a Venezuelan public health physician, was the National Coordinator of the Dengue Fever Program in Venezuela's Ministry of Health and is a Lecturer in the Department of Anthropology at the University of California, Berkeley. They are coauthors of Stories in the Time of Cholera: Racial Profiling during a Medical Nightmare.
Spring 2017
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