Intensive 3 hour book reading session:


1. Sequentially going through the first list of suggested readings by supervisor,

2. Reading back cover/inner-flap blurbs, preface/introduction/table of contents and conclusion first before skimming most of the book,

3. Coming back to slow-read more interesting parts

4. Note-taking on new points, thoughts and opinions

Books Read:

1. Cancer in the Community (Marth Balshem, 1993):

It has been a few years since I have read it, but the change in how I was reading it now (hopefully critically) has made a difference in the experience.

Enlightening but emotionally jarring read, particularly concerning the in-depth case study about one cancer case.  The difference between ‘purely’ environmental readings and anthropological perspectives, particularly with the concerns of place of the researcher in the community is very interesting. How does one reflect on one’s place and contribution in an interdisciplinary team of experts and the point of view of each perspective?

2. Reclaiming the Environmental Debate (edited by Richard Hofrichter, 2000)

Incredibly difficult to read, despite the fabulous organization of the essays. Warrants a re-read because of the connecting dynamics between each essay.

3. Blue-Green Coalitions (Brian Mayer, 2009)

Gripping open, affecting my own bias about Greenpeace. US based, Case-study led thinking on formation, evolution and development of three blue-green coalitions. Based on interactions about labor, health and environment.

4. The Politics of Asbestos (Linda Waldman, 2011)

Policy, protest, risk and disease analysis of asbestos in 3 different locations. With many examples from each place. I am struggling again with the anthropological analysis and it’s discussion with legal framings. I feel I am missing the big picture in trying to get the smaller details the author is focusing on.

5. Flammable (Javier Auyero and Alejandra Swistun, 2009)

Ethnographic and anthropologic as well, but very easy to read. Extremely emotional response that persists from the last time I read it. Experience might have a lot to do with the book’s organization (white space, more headings, less wordy, etc). Focus on environment instead of personal behavior (while discussing it well) is a relief after ‘Cancer in the Community’. Ethnography with environmental suffering is dealt very well and the enormous effort put into the project is not the main and overwhelming focus. Warrants a third read, just because of it’s effect.


Final Perspective: Taking “Illness and the Environment” (reader) home with me.

1. Am having a lot of difficulty reading anthropological readings, they are entirely too wordy, long and without sufficient breaks in the text to keep me involved. Must find a way to keep in the loop.

2. Having mixed feelings about doing an ethnographic analysis

3. Seriously considering a ‘bird’s eye view’ approach instead of community centered

4. Maps would have helped a lot of these books

5. I want to know how Balshem felt while writing the book and while she thinks back on the experience of having written it

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