Comments on Emily Martin's “The Ethnography of Natural Selection in the 1990s”

Peer Reviewed

Essay Excerpt

I am one of the many anthropologists who follows carefully each of the new steps that Emily Martin takes in her evolving work, which I see as a model and source of inspiration.  I read this essay when I was flat on my backing bed with a terrible cold that was still on a downward trajectory.  As was my custom, I waited nervously for my immune system to kick in on its own, without the help of doctors, pills, and the usual home remedies.  I did not want to weaken my immune system with unnecessary medication.  In that condition, I read the essay and discovered that I was also suffering from another condition: immuno-machismo. 

Emily Martin challenges us to see ourselves and our anthropology in an epidemic of boundary crossings.  Populations, viruses, social orders, and concepts of wealth and disease crisscross climates, lands, empires, species, genders, races, classes, and bodies.  Even boundaries of time and history are transgressed: immunology and AIDS, a science and disease that many have seen as symptomatic of our end-of-the-millennium culture, are not recast as reactivating latent discourses though to be safely encrypted in a bygone century. (398)

Hess, David J. . "Comments on Emily Martin's “The Ethnography of Natural Selection in the 1990s”." Cultural Anthropology 9, no. 3 (1994): 398-401

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