Life Beside Itself: An Interview

Lisa Stevenson’s new book opens with two throat-singing women and one listening king. Whether we hear them sitting down to a normal night’s dinner (as the women) or stalking the pages of a short story from Italo Calvino’s Under the Jaguar Sun (as the king), listening to these voices can potentially transform our notion of listening itself, as well as our understanding of what a “self” is and could be. Life Beside Itself: Imagining Care in the Canadian Arctic (University of California Press, 2014) shows us this by exploring formulations and practices of life, death, and care in a history and ethnography of Canadian policies and attitudes toward the Inuit during two epidemics, a tuberculosis epidemic (1940s-early 1960s) and a suicide epidemic (1980s-present). In juxtaposing those two cases, the book considers different forms of “care,” bureaucratic and otherwise. To hear us talking about it for the New Books in STS podcast, head over to this link!