Towards a Global Clinic? Anthropological Incursions into the Pan-African e-Network Project
Research Seminar of the Collège d’études mondiales
With Vincent Duclos
Global health is being transformed by a proliferation of screens, interfaces and networks that link bodies, knowledge, and care practices in new spatial and temporal configurations. A wide array of eHealth interventions that rely on information and communication technologies (ICTs) to provide medical solutions on a global scale have emerged in recent years. This talk addresses the theoretical and practical challenges presented by such developments. I draw on an ethnography of the Pan-African e-Network, a network connecting health centres located across the African continent with tertiary care hospitals in India. An integrated solution aimed at caring for patients at a distance, the Pan-African e-Network enacts a digital opening of the clinic and reconfigures the spatiality of healthcare delivery. However, this opening up is not a matter of straightforward emancipation. Contrary to widespread conceptions of networks as enabling fluid, seamless circulations of data and expertise, my analysis of the Pan-African e-Network exposes its embeddedness, plasticity and sheer materiality of concrete practices. Ultimately, this research aims to understand how digital technology forges new relations between space, technology, and global health. It points towards new horizons of intelligibility within which human lives come to take shape as objects of knowledge and intervention.