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Open Access The cultural politics of biomedicine in the Caribbean

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The cultural politics of biomedicine in the Caribbean

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image of New West Indian Guide / Nieuwe West-Indische Gids

[First paragraph]Healing the Masses: Cuban Health Politics at Home and Abroad. JULIE M. FEINSILVER. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1993. xx + 307 pp. (Cloth US$ 45.00, Paper US$ 17.00)The Blessings of Motherhood: Health, Pregnancy and Child Care in Dominica. ANJA KRUMEICH. Amsterdam: Het Spinhuis, 1994. iii + 278 pp. (Paper NLG 47.50)Disability and Rehabilitation in Rural Jamaica: An EthnographicStudy. RONNIE LINDA LEAVITT. Rutherford NJ: Fairleigh Dickinson University Press; London: Associated University Presses, 1992. 249 pp. (Cloth US$ 39.50)Based on research in three Caribbean societies, these books explore the contours of biomedicine ("Western" or scientific medicine) as a cultural system and an instrument of state power. On a theoretical level, the authors take up the blurred boundaries between Western biomedicine and other forms of healing as well as the political meanings and contradictions hidden behind everyday clinical routines. Their particular research projects, however, ask what has happened to the dream of universally accessible medical care in the past twenty years in the Caribbean region. The books focus on a community-based pediatric disability program in Jamaica(Leavitt), maternal and child health care in Dominica (Krumeich), and Cuba's national project of medical modernization (Feinsilver). Specific diseases or clinical outcomes are less at issue than the cultural and political dimensions of planned health development and the social transformations it sets into motion on both local and national levels.

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