Le Hoang Ngoc Yen
Position: Affiliated Researcher
MAIL: lehoang [at] cseas.kyoto-u.ac.jp
・Living leprosy in Vietnam: Care, affliction and agency under the shadow of a cure
Living leprosy in Vietnam: Care, affliction and agency under the shadow of a cure
This research has four main aims: first, to examine the social and cultural construction of leprosy in Vietnam; second, to elucidate the realities of having leprosy, through lived and embodied experience of the people having the disease and to clarify the social stigma attached to leprosy and people with leprosy; third, to study the leprosy village of Quy Hòa as a unique community of people sharing distinctive commonality; fourth to explore the social networks that link this village to the wider community; and fifth, throughout the research, to examine the cultural foundations, modalities and ethics of care for leprosy in Vietnam. The social and cultural aspects of leprosy have been under-studied in general; in Vietnam, there have been no contemporary research on the social realities of leprosy. Adopting an anthropological approach to this illness, this study analyses leprosy in Vietnam as a culturally and socially constructed and embodied phenomenon. In doing so it reaches beyond biomedical framings to shed light on the multifaceted meanings of this affliction. This research thus promises to contribute to knowledge in a number of key public health areas: stigmatised and chronic diseases; social welfare and care models for such diseases; and the long-term residues, disabilities and social problems experienced by patients suffering from them. In particular it sheds light on leprosy in Vietnam, long at the centre of a systematic national public health campaign, but about which social scientists have had little to say, except for in the field of historical studies. The project aims also to contribute to anthropological debates on stigmatised subjectivities, social suffering and human agency, with the promise to deliver insights of relevance to other stigmatised disease categories and groups of people. More broadly, this research seeks to shed ethnographic light on the bio-political and socio-cultural production of illness, and on the embodied realities of one particular illness for the people who live with it.