Listening to women: political narratives of breast cancer in Spain

Porroche-Escudero, Ana (2012) Listening to women: political narratives of breast cancer in Spain. Doctoral thesis (DPhil), University of Sussex.

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The thesis examines the complex relationship between individual experiences of breast
cancer and the wider social, political and discursive context in which they are located. It
focuses on how Spanish women living with breast cancer define their own health
priorities by exploring their experiences and their dissatisfactions, which appear to have
been excluded from public and biomedical discourses. The data was collected in a
provincial city in Western Spain and focused on the lived experiences of 32 women
living and surviving breast cancer. Interviews were mainly conducted in the
headquarters of the Spanish Association against Cancer of that region, but also at
women’s homes and in other public spaces. Based upon a framework of narratives of
resistance, grounded in feminist theory, critical medical anthropology and sociology, an
ethnographic approach allowed a focus on breast cancer patients and survivors as
‘experts’ of their own health, addressing fundamental concerns in the production of
knowledge. The thesis discusses the relationship between breast cancer and social
inequality. It examines the dramatic ways that structures of power such as class, age,
gender, and disability, intersect and “conspire” through a web of social beliefs,
practices, norms and expectations to shape, and exacerbate, women’s experiences of
illness, in particular, of those women who need health care the most. The research also
highlights the ways in which the experiential symptoms of breast cancer are portrayed
and perceived in public and medical discourses in sexual terms or physiological terms,
which ignores the wider social and embodied contexts of women’s experiences. By
answering the call made by feminist writers such as Wilkinson (2001) and Broom
(2000) to listening to the narratives of resistance of these Spanish women, this study
therefore offers both a particular cultural account of their collaboration with a range of
institutions such as health professionals, charities, the family and the social care system,
but also valuable lay experiences which are more generally relevant to wider healthcare
practice and policy.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Schools and Departments: School of Global Studies > Anthropology
Subjects: G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > GN Anthropology > GN049 Physical anthropology. Somatology > GN296 Medical anthropology
R Medicine > RC Internal medicine > RC0254 Neoplasms. Tumors. Oncology Including cancer and carcinogens
Depositing User: Library Cataloguing
Date Deposited: 23 Feb 2012 13:42
Last Modified: 04 Apr 2017 10:55

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