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Hidden places, uncommon persons


  • Kaufman, Sharon R.


Specialized hospital units recently created to house and maintain ventilator or other technology-dependent persons in the United States are new cultural forms that enable beings who are neither fully alive, biologically dead, nor "naturally" self-regulating, yet who are sustained by modern medical practices, to exist. These institutions both fabricate and complicate the persons who are patients there through surveillance and maintenance of their conditions. This article concerns the relationship of person to place when the consciousness of an individual, considered to be the essence of personhood in the modern Western philosophical tradition, is problematic because the person resides in a technologically produced border zone between life and death. The article explores the ways in which place and person become implicated one another: first, how consciousness and thus personhood is assessed and negotiated through the inter-subjective knowledge of hospital staff; second, how that knowledge is tied to the particular situate-dness of patients; and third, how embodiment itself--the reflexive knowledge of the-self-in-the-body--is perceived as emplaced in social and spatial relations.

Suggested Citation

  • Kaufman, Sharon R., 2003. "Hidden places, uncommon persons," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 56(11), pages 2249-2261, June.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:socmed:v:56:y:2003:i:11:p:2249-2261

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    Cited by:

    1. Iedema, Rick & Sorensen, Roslyn & Braithwaite, Jeffrey & Flabouris, Arthas & Turnbull, Liz, 2005. "The teleo-affective limits of end-of-life care in the intensive care unit," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 60(4), pages 845-857, February.
    2. Stonington, Scott D., 2012. "On ethical locations: The good death in Thailand, where ethics sit in places," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 75(5), pages 836-844.
    3. repec:eee:socmed:v:184:y:2017:i:c:p:116-123 is not listed on IDEAS
    4. Nettleton, Sarah & Kitzinger, Jenny & Kitzinger, Celia, 2014. "A diagnostic illusory? The case of distinguishing between “vegetative” and “minimally conscious” states," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 116(C), pages 134-141.


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