Encounters and Engagements (in English)
This past week I have had the privilege of attending the Encounters and Engagements meeting held in Tarragona by Medical Anthropologists from all over the world.
Organized by the Department of Anthropology and Social Work of our university–Universitat de Tarragona “Rovira i Virgili”–and sponsored by the European Association of Social Anthropologists and Society for Medical Anthropology, a Section of the American Anthropological Association, s designed to foster intellectual encounters between engaged/applied and academic medical anthropologists from around the world.
600 participants representing 51 one countries, from Iceland to SouthAfrica, from New Zealand to the United States, from the United Kingdom to VietNam, shared experiences in an array of ten “streams” with up to 6 different panels each and more than 450 of papers presented, plus fascinating multimedia shows, keynote lectures and several methodology workshops, roundtables and book exhibition.
Our modest contribution was in the Stream 3: New collectivities in health; Patient-led Communities, with a paper titled: “Child rearing 2.0. Social networks and child rearing” where I made specific reference to two newly arisen virtual communities I have been observing up close recently: the breast-feeding promoting Do de pit (the title plays with the words as “Do de pit” means the C-high musical note in Catalan, as chest and breast are the same word), and the PediaTIC community dedicated to promoting child health through Information and Communication Technologies (TIC in Spanish) depicted just at the right of this very page.
Breastfeeding promotion in our setting has brought in just ten years the prevalence of breastfeeding mothers who give birth in our hospital from a mere 35-40% all the way up to 94% as they leave the hospital, with a mean duration of 3 months, mostly due to the maternity leave period which in Spain is 16 weeks. Do de Pit is now engaged in helping breastfeeding mother to prolong breastfeeding well beyond that, with successful experiences of over 2 years.
PediaTIC has put together parents, teachers and pediatricians in a growing community sharing experiences through blogs, tweets and facebook links, able to even hold a national meeting this past fall in Lleida with more than 200 attendants.
These new communities are changing through intercommunication and sharing of experiences (thus the 2.0 label) the way children are cared for in our society.
X. Allué (Editor)