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The work of forgetting: Germs, aborigines and postcolonial expertise in the Northern Territory of Australia

Lea, Tess (2005). The work of forgetting: Germs, aborigines and postcolonial expertise in the Northern Territory of Australia. Social Science and Medicine,61(6):1310-1319.

Document type: Journal Article
Citation counts: Scopus Citation Count Cited 5 times in Scopus Article | Citations

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IRMA ID 77518756xPUB15
Title The work of forgetting: Germs, aborigines and postcolonial expertise in the Northern Territory of Australia
Author Lea, Tess
Journal Name Social Science and Medicine
Publication Date 2005
Volume Number 61
Issue Number 6
ISSN 0277-9536   (check CDU catalogue open catalogue search in new window)
Scopus ID 2-s2.0-20444461869
Start Page 1310
End Page 1319
Total Pages 10
Place of Publication UK
Publisher Pergamon
Field of Research 1117 - Public Health and Health Services
2202 - History and Philosophy of Specific Fields
HERDC Category C1 - Journal Article (DEST)
Abstract Based on anthropological field research (1997-2000) within the Department of Health and Community Services in the Northern Territory in Australia, this paper explores the lingering features of colonial logic in the pastoral work of public health workers in the Northern Territory of Australia. The public health professionals drawn to work in this space are determined to remedy what is wrong with culturally acceptable solutions. But viewed from an anthropological perspective, the way in which health professionals conceptualise the problems they need to solve ultimately serves to reinforce the reality of the need for their continued tutelary presence. This paper aims to draw out the complex ways in which this interventionary effect is secured, concentrating in particular on the role played by progressive ideologies of participatory development and information sharing. It argues that through a complex process of forgetting, the otherwise innocuous gestures of public health goodwill recreate a mandate for more public health intervention. This is not a simple moral tale where analysts can easily identify good and bad practices and thus distance themselves from the difficulties involved. Rather, by emphasising the honest commitments to improvement in situations of mass illness and preventable disease that health professionals bring to their work, and the burden they bear in being conscious of the recent colonial past, the paper aims to avoid the judgement that this sort of work is easy to get right.
Keywords aborigines
public health
postcoloniality
cross-cultural pedagogy
australia
poststreptococcal glomerulonephritis
DOI http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.socscimed.2005.01.020   (check subscription with CDU E-Gateway service for CDU Staff and Students  check subscription with CDU E-Gateway in new window)
 
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