Resisting Resilience: An Anthropologist’s Paradox

Slide from presentation: a photo of wavy patterns in beach sand with footprints.
NADYA POHRAN University of Cambridge Resilience can be a tremendous asset to any individual’s ability to carry on despite difficulties. At the same time, revering resilience without a healthy amount of respect for emotional vulnerability—by which I mean the intentional choice to tap into our emotional beings and allow ourselves to deeply experience the emotions that arise in us doing our fieldwork and analysis phases of ethnographic research—can be a hindering block to doing good anthropological work. Drawing upon three examples from my personal work as an anthropologist—one from academic research in interreligious relations, one from a healthtech start up context, and one from doing ethnographic work in corporate settings—I call out for anthropologists to not neglect our emotional experiences. I point back to the often-referenced “empathy” within anthropological spheres and, looking at empathy as both a cognitive and an emotional phenomenon, I join the conversation of others who are arguing for the intentional...

Against Resiliency: An Ethnographic Manifesto

Lauren Rhodes and Jillian Powers speaking together on stage at EPIC2022
LAUREN MONSEIN RHODES Cisco JILLIAN POWERS JP Morgan Chase Using ethnography as an analytic tool to examine the concept of resiliency, we call for a shift in our practice and praxis. Research subjects and ethnographic practitioners are tired of working against and thriving despite. We are tired of being seen as resilient in a world that demands so much from us and only values our contributions if they align with dominant views and world systems. We are tired of being relied upon to provide answers and solutions to the issues presented in front of us. In this manifesto, we demonstrate and argue that resilience, as a category of human agency, shifts responsibility to the person being resilient and away from the systemic problems that created the need to be resilient in the first place. By reifying resilience in our research and our findings, we celebrate survival despite the psychic and somatic labor and toll on resilient actors. As practitioners, we are drained by being and witnessing resilience. As ethnographers who work, we...

Amplifying Resilient Communities: Identifying Resilient Community Practices to Better Inform Health System Design

Diagram called "Strands of Health." Six strands of different colors are wound together, then unravel. The strands are labled: Environmental Health; Social Health; Physical Health; Emotional Health; Financial Health; Spiritual Health
ROMIT RAJ Quicksand Design Studio BABITHA GEORGE Quicksand Design Studio CRISTIN MARONA Matchboxology REBECCA WEST Ipsos ANABEL GOMEZ Independent Technical Advisor TRACY PILAR JOHNSON The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation ADITYA PRAKASH Quicksand Design Studio SUNNY SHARMA Ipsos AYUSHI BIYANI Quicksand Design Studio MRITTIKA BARUA James P Grant School of Public health, BRAC University CAL BRUNS Matchboxology Globally, the COVID-19 pandemic has been an inflection point, bringing heightened awareness around the preparedness and resilience of public health systems in dealing with severe shocks. While the pandemic has accentuated the existing weakness in public health systems, for many, especially those belonging to marginalized sections of society, seeking healthcare has always been fraught with severe challenges and frictions. This paper presents the findings from a two-year design research project conducted in South Africa and Bangladesh, which studied the challenges faced by health seekers, especially those...