We are excited to share the details of our latest article, out now in Medicine Anthropology Theory. It is called “Sticky Models: History as Friction in Obstetric Education“. In it, John and Anna think about the sticky material histories which influence contemporary obstetric education between Ghana and the Netherlands. You can find the abstract below.
This paper explores the material histories which influence contemporary medical education. Using two obstetric simulators found in the distinct teaching environments of the University of Development Studies in the north of Ghana and Maastricht University in the south of the Netherlands, this paper deconstructs the material conditions which shape current practice in order to emphasise the past practices that remain relevant, yet often invisible, in modern medicine. Building on conceptual ideas drawn from STS and the productive tensions which emerge from close collaboration between historians and anthropologists, we argue that the pull of past practice can be understood as a form of friction, where historical practices ‘stick’ to modern materialities. We argue that the labour required for the translation of material conditions across both time and space is expressly relevant for the ongoing use and future development of medical technologies.
Many thanks to the editors and reviewers of MAT who helped us get this to publication. We are also grateful to the ERC for funding and our colleagues on this project – Rachel Allison, Carla Greubel, Harro van Lente, Andrea Wojcik, and Sally Wyatt – who contributed significantly to the ideas developed in this article and offered sage advice on earlier drafts. Thanks particularly to Andrea for her generosity in fieldsite introductions and for sharing her thoughts and photos with us – her own work on the role of touch in obstetric simulation is forthcoming. A version of this paper was presented at the Society for the Social Studies of Science meeting in Sydney in 2018; we thank the organisers of the ‘Sensing beyond borders’ panel, Christy Spackman and Nicole Charles, and the attendees for the discussion which emerged. An inspiring writing workshop led by Janelle Taylor helped to flesh out some of the knitted uterus material. Finally, we are especially grateful to our friends in the medical faculties at the University for Development Studies, Maastricht University, and Semmelweis University in Budapest. It is their generosity and openness which has made this research possible.