Livia Garofalo

Grant Type

Dissertation Fieldwork Grant

Institutional Affiliation

Northwestern U.

Grant number

Gr. 9534

Approve Date

October 11, 2017

Project Title

Garofalo, Livia L., Northwestern U., Evanston, IL - To aid research on ''El Golpe:' Traumatic Brain Injury, Risk, and Care in Greater Buenos Aires, Argentina,' supervised by Dr. Rebecca Seligman

This project aims to investigate processes of self-making among Traumatic Brain Injury patients in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Specifically, I ask how patients construct their selfhood in response to circulating discourses about subjectivity, culpability, and risk at a moment of political transition and epistemological shift surrounding mental health. Framed as a global ‘silent epidemic’ by public health officials, Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) is a disruption in brain function due to a blow to the head resulting in a range of physical, cognitive, and psychosocial aftereffects. As a life-altering condition that troubles the relationship between brain, mind, and self, TBI constitutes a productive site to investigate how subject formation occurs at the intersection of shifting expert discourses and economic vulnerability at a time of public healthcare restructuring. Attending to the current alignment between neoliberal ideology and debates around neuroscience, psychoanalysis, and psychiatry, I investigate how TBI patients are apprehended psychologically, bio-medically, and institutionally as ‘patients of the state’ in Argentina (Auyero 2012). Based on twelve months of ethnographic fieldwork in one public hospital in the greater Buenos Aires area, I seek to examine how medical, societal, and familial approaches to injury both interact with and are transformed by individuals’ attempts to make sense of their selfhood after trauma in situations of socio-economic precariousness. This project thus contributes to anthropological studies on trauma, risk, and the ‘caring’ state by investigating how post-traumatic subjectivities emerge in the everyday encounters of patients, caregivers, and physicians.