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Download DES daughters: embodied knowledge and the transformation of by Susan E. Bell PDF

By Susan E. Bell

How a wellbeing and fitness catastrophe helped provide upward thrust to the feminist future health care circulate

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Extra resources for DES daughters: embodied knowledge and the transformation of women's health politics

Example text

As their actions in preparation for and during the 1992 DES Workshop show, their participation in DES science raised doubts about the lines between science and nonscience, expert and layperson, and good science and bad science. In the mid-1980s, DES Action and the DCN contested existing medical and scientific knowledge by initiating and conducting their own research, beginning with surveys sent to readers of their newsletters that were resent at intervals through 2003. For example, the activists identified a gap between their intimate, firsthand knowledge of their bodies and the medical literature.

It could have been that they kept the particulars from her to protect her innocence. In any case, Esther’s explanation for her lack of information about what “they” (lines 013, 016) knew rests on her age. This paternalistic and individualistic explanation is consistent with (and serves to strengthen) the meaning that she was constructing in her narrative—one of heroic biomedicine, in which sovereign physicians made decisions on behalf of their patients. Nevertheless, the story is more complicated than Esther’s narrative makes it appear.

These knowledge productions are reflected in the narrative accounts of DES cancer daughters. The “terrain of power and resistance” (Abu-Lughod 1990; Ortner 1995) for DES cancer daughters varies according to the historically specific contexts in which they discovered and responded to the news that they had vaginal cancer caused by DES. I explore multiple, unstable, overlapping, and intersecting fields in the lives of individual women who have had DES cancer by interviewing them, locating the women in particular medical and feminist contexts in order to highlight the presence and play of power in their relationships and responses to the news given to them by their doctors (Bell 1999).

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