Bhutan

Labors of the flesh

The ethical, ecological and emotional entanglements of “the first 1000 days of life”

In this project, I hope to explore how nutrition interventions associated with the global health policy agenda “the first thousand days of life” are adapted for and interact with daily life in the Kingdom of Bhutan through long term fieldwork, sensory and visual ethnography, and person-centered interviewing.  But my aims in this research are as much about decolonial feminist research process as they are about the careful curation of data. This generates some productive friction. On one hand I am concerned about how the use of statistical indicators and theories of causation in global health might be decolonized, how local conceptions of life, death and the body interact with new birthing practices, how nutritional and breastfeeding counseling impacts feeding and caring in kitchens, fields and markets, and how cash transfers and six-month maternity leave impact social attachment and subjectivities of motherhood, fatherhood, and kinship.  On the other hand I seek to co-labor where and when possible in this research. This requires an openness to colleagues living and working in Bhutan on related projects, as well as a willingness to provincialize Euro-American theory. Ultimately as a part of the Global Future Health team, I hope to engage across disciplinary boundaries, senses, and publics. This study is imagined to be in dialogue with critical development studies, critical medical anthropology and humanities, feminist economic anthropology, visual anthropology, and psychological anthropology.