Eyes Wide Cut: The American Origins of Korea’s Plastic Surgery Craze

Posted in Articles, Asian Diaspora, Health/Medicine/Genetics, History, Media Archive, United States, Women on 2016-08-17 02:16Z by Steven

Eyes Wide Cut: The American Origins of Korea’s Plastic Surgery Craze

The Wilson Quarterly
Fall 2015

Laura Kurek

South Korea’s obsession with cosmetic surgery can be traced back to an American doctor, raising uneasy questions about beauty standards.

At sixteen stories high, the doctor’s office looms over the neon-colored metropolis. Within the high-rise, consultation offices, operating rooms, and recovery suites occupy most floors. Additional floors house a dental clinic, a rooftop lounge, and apartments for long-term stays. This is Beauty Korea (BK), a one-stop, full-service plastic surgery facility in the heart of Seoul, South Korea.

South Korea has an obsession with plastic surgery. One in five South Korean women has undergone some type of cosmetic procedure, compared with one in twenty in the United States. With plastic surgery’s staggering rise in popularity, an attractive physical appearance is now the sine qua non for a successful career. Undergoing surgery to achieve an employable face in South Korea is just as commonplace as going to the gym in America.

The most popular surgery is Asian blepharoplasty, the process of changing the Asian eyelid, commonly referred to as the “monolid,” into a double eyelid. The second is rhinoplasty, or a nose job. The prevalence of these two procedures, especially the “double-eyelid” operation, has led to a delicate question: Are South Koreans are seeking to westernize their appearance? Cosmetic surgeons and scholars tread lightly around the issue. Some argue that Western culture — a broad and imperfect term — cannot claim “big eyes” as unique to its definition of beauty. Others note that only 50 percent of the Asian population is born with monolids. Some practitioners, including Dr. Hyuenong Park of OZ Cosmetic Clinic and Beverly Hills plastic surgeon Kenneth Steinsapir, deny altogether that double-eyelid surgery is intended to make its recipient appear more Western.

The story of an American surgeon in the postwar Korea of the 1950s, however, suggests otherwise…

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On Race and Medicine: Insider Perspectives ed. by Richard Garcia (review)

Posted in Articles, Book/Video Reviews, Health/Medicine/Genetics, History, Media Archive, United States on 2016-08-16 18:01Z by Steven

On Race and Medicine: Insider Perspectives ed. by Richard Garcia (review)

American Studies
Volume 55, Number 1, 2016
pages 163-164
DOI: 10.1353/ams.2016.0057

David Colón-Cabrera

ON RACE AND MEDICINE: Insider Perspectives. Edited by Richard Garcia. Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield. 2015.

The fields of anthropology and sociology, in addition to health sciences, have problematized the topic of race and medicine extensively. The dubious history of medical practice towards non-white bodies has left deep impacts on the manner in which biomedicine still speaks, treats, and cares for individuals who are not white. Medicine has its own white privilege problem in the way it often sets whiteness (and maleness) as the default body to research, treat, and care for. On Race and Medicine reflects on these challenges by providing an insight into the experiences of practitioners and researchers at the intersection of race and healthcare.

The book falls within the purview of current research and theory exploring the cultural, social, and political aspects of science. While the book does not specifically identify its aim and scope within Science and Technology Studies, it focuses on those involved in the production and practice of medicine. On Race and Medicine relies on narratives that characterize the multidisciplinary nature of medicine from the perspective of a diverse group of academics and health practitioners—though only a third are women. The book presents the experiences and trajectories of the collaborators and their induction to the topic of race within healthcare. Edited by Richard Garcia, the book’s four sections attempt to retrospectively challenge the manner in which health disparities have been evaluated in recent decades. The first section, Health Disparities, sets the tone by arguing how historical and environmental factors can help explain current health disparities. The Personal Essay presents the omnipresent effect that a racial and ethnic identity has in developing attitudes and behaviors towards healthcare. In Race and Medicine several collaborators reflect on their own biases, attitudes, privileges, and experiences at the intersection of race and medicine. Collaborators recount their challenging experiences encountering medicine while being an ethnic/racial other or being exposed to the ethnic/racial other. Finally, in Towards Solutions, the collaborators discuss the limitations that they deal with in their work and practice. The latter sections are the core of the book since they answer the editor’s central question: “But is this form—rather than the traditional writing of social science or public health—useful, or even necessary?” (31). The use of “forensic chapters” (4) by the collaborators exemplify the manner in which medicine deals with the lived experiences of ethnic and racial minorities, and invite the reader to reflect on those challenges.

Garcia and collaborators seem to be writing for health professionals who are reticent to appreciate the value of personal essays as a narrative tool to explain the complexity of race and healthcare. The editor makes a compelling, though limited, argument supporting the study of health disparities in the US. On Race and Medicine relies on an abundance of sociological and anthropological knowledge, but the editor’s discussions referencing these disciplines could have benefitted from more depth; for example, on pages 4–5 Garcia states: “I imagine the topic of health disparities as a section in a syllabus of an American studies course, along with the other sections that consider race in America.” He appears to overlook the fact that fields in anthropology, sociology, the humanities and public health have crafted entire programs and courses that examine race and medicine in a holistic manner. Similarly, Garcia’s exhortation, “I’d call for a moratorium on disparities studies if anyone were listening. We know. They exist. Enough studies already. Now let’s fix them” (160) misses the point by inadvertently minimizing the scholarship of the aforementioned disciplines.

Garcia and collaborators provide contrasting and dynamic insights that challenge some of the notions of race and healthcare in a very personal way. The value of this book lies in the personal contributions alluding to the diversity of socioeconomics and relative privilege within ethnic and racial communities, and their influence on health-seeking behaviors and attitudes. At the end of the book, in regard to the challenges that the interaction of race and healthcare cause, Garcia poses the question “What can I do?” (166). This seems an unspoken call…

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The Misuse of Race in Medical Diagnosis

Posted in Articles, Health/Medicine/Genetics, Media Archive on 2016-08-15 17:38Z by Steven

The Misuse of Race in Medical Diagnosis

Pediatrics: Official Journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics
May 2004, Volume 113 / Issue 5

Richard S. Garcia

I am a 39-year-old Hispanic male born in Stockton, Calif, to a mother who—after many years of unwise eating—has recently been diagnosed with diabetes and to a father I didn’t know who floated away at the end of a needle in his sister’s garage. I prefer being called Mexican to Hispanic, though I’ve never been to Mexico. I eat a fat American’s diet. Speak American English. Although I don’t smoke, I have been living in a big city with polluted air. An American city where I recently was an assistant professor of pediatrics, working in a profession that tries to define my indefinable race without asking for my input.

I helped train medical students and residents who are all taught, as I was when I was a medical student, to assess each patient first in terms of age, race, and gender. Always in that order. A 52-year-old white female, a 3-month-old Asian male, a 39-year-old Hispanic male. The actual identity of patients remains ignored: A 47-year-old African American female—who’s never been to Africa and prefers to call herself black if ever asked by a white doctor, though none ever asks—two-pack-a-day smoker, still living with her mother in South Central Los Angeles, presents with fatigue.

The doctor asks the patient—or the parent of the patient, if you’re a pediatrician—for his or her age. The gender is determined during the physical examination…

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On Race and Medicine: Insider Perspectives

Posted in Anthologies, Books, Health/Medicine/Genetics, History, Media Archive, Social Science, United States on 2016-08-15 15:04Z by Steven

On Race and Medicine: Insider Perspectives

Rowman & Littefield
April 2015
178 pages
6 1/2 x 9 1/4
Hardback ISBN: 978-1-4422-4835-9
eBook ISBN: 978-1-4422-4836-6

Edited by:

Richard Garcia, M.D.

Health disparities exist between races in America. These inequalities are cataloged in numerous studies, reports, conferences, articles, seminars, and keynote speeches. Various studies include reports on income, health insurance, cultural differences between patients and their physicians, language barriers, and biological “racial” differences in the discourse of health disparities.

On Race and Medicine: Insider Perspectives is a collection of enlightening personal essays written by an interdisciplinary group of scholars, physicians, and medical school deans. They invite readers to evaluate disparities differently when considering race in American healthcare. They address the very real, everyday circumstances of healthcare differences where race is concerned, and shine light on the realities of race itself, inequalities in healthcare, and on the very way these American complexities can be discussed and considered.

This is not another chronicle of studies cataloging differences in health care based on race. The essays are narrated from practical and personal stances examining disparate health between the races. Decreasing inequalities in health for racial minorities, who are sicker in so many areas—diabetes, heart disease, stage of cancer, etc.—is financially good for everyone. But understanding health inequalities in race is of even greater human importance. How race intersects with medicine is striking given the existence of racial issues throughout the rest of American history. These authors attempt to explain and explore the truth about health disparities, which is necessary before we can turn our national attention toward eliminating differences in health based on race.

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Inconsistency within Expressed and Observed Racial Identifications: Implications for Mental Health Status

Posted in Articles, Health/Medicine/Genetics, Media Archive, Native Americans/First Nation, Social Science on 2016-08-07 23:49Z by Steven

Inconsistency within Expressed and Observed Racial Identifications: Implications for Mental Health Status

Sociological Perspectives
Volume 59, Number 3 (September 2016)
pages 582-603
DOI: 10.1177/0731121415602133

Whitney N. Laster Pirtle, Assistant Professor of Sociology
University of California, Merced

Tony N. Brown, Associate Professor of Sociology
Vanderbilt University, Nashville, Tennessee

The present study extends previous work on distress that arises from discrepancy between self and interviewer racial identifications. Using the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent to Adult Health (Add Health) data, we examine mental health consequences of inconsistency over time within expressed (self) and observed (interviewer) racial identifications among American Indians. Given that phenotype signals race, we also contribute to prior research by examining whether skin color moderates inconsistency’s mental health consequences. Analyses show that observed racial inconsistency increased American Indians’ depressive symptoms and suicidal ideation. That is, when interviewers labeled a respondent “American Indian” at one wave of data but not another, there were deleterious implications for mental health status. In addition, an interaction between observed inconsistency and skin color demonstrated that observed inconsistency tended to be harmful when respondents were observed as having light skin. We argue observed inconsistency captures the distressing experience of being not readily classifiable.

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Genetics against race: Science, politics and affirmative action in Brazil

Posted in Anthropology, Articles, Brazil, Caribbean/Latin America, Health/Medicine/Genetics, Media Archive, Politics/Public Policy, Social Science on 2016-08-07 20:21Z by Steven

Genetics against race: Science, politics and affirmative action in Brazil

Social Studies of Science
Volume 45, Number 6 (December 2015)
pages 816-838
DOI: 10.1177/0306312715610217

Peter Wade, Professor of Social Anthropology
University of Manchester

Michael Kent, Honorary Research Fellow in Social Anthropology
School of Social Sciences
University of Manchester

This article analyses interrelations between genetic ancestry research, political conflict and social identity. It focuses on the debate on race-based affirmative action policies, which have been implemented in Brazil since the turn of the century. Genetic evidence of high levels of admixture in the Brazilian population has become a key element of arguments that question the validity of the category of race for the development of public policies. In response, members of Brazil’s black movement have dismissed the relevance of genetics by arguing, first, that in Brazil race functions as a social – rather than a biological – category, and, second, that racial classification and discrimination in this country are based on appearance, rather than on genotype. This article highlights the importance of power relations and political interests in shaping public engagements with genetic research and their social consequences.

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Remapping Race on the Human Genome: Commercial Exploits in a Racialized America

Posted in Anthropology, Books, Forthcoming Media, Health/Medicine/Genetics, Law, Monographs, Politics/Public Policy, Social Science, United States on 2016-08-06 14:52Z by Steven

Remapping Race on the Human Genome: Commercial Exploits in a Racialized America

Praeger
January 2017
310 pages
6.125 x 9.25
Hardcover ISBN: 978-1-4408-3063-1
eBook ISBN: 978-1-4408-3064-8

Judith Ann Warner, Professor of Sociology
Texas A&M International University, Laredo, Texas

Do the commercial applications of the human genome in ancestry tracing, medicine, and forensics serve to further racialize and stereotype groups?

This book explores the ethical debates at the intersection of race, ethnicity, national origin, and DNA analysis, enabling readers to gain a better understanding of the human genome project and its impact on the biological sciences, medicine, and criminal justice.

Genome and genealogical research has become a subject of interest outside of science, as evidenced by the popularity of the genealogy research website Ancestry.com that helps individuals discover their genetic past and television shows such as the celebrity-focused Who Do You Think You Are? and Finding Your Roots with Henry Louis Gates, Jr.. Applications of DNA analysis in the area of criminal justice and the law have major consequences for social control from birth to death. This book explores the role of DNA research and analysis within the framework of race, ethnicity, and national origin—and provides a warning about the potential dangers of a racialized America.

Synthesizing the work of sociologists, criminologists, anthropologists, and biologists, author Judith Ann Warner, PhD, examines how the human genome is being interpreted and commonly used to affirm—rather than dissolve—racial and ethnic boundaries. The individual, corporate, and government use of DNA is controversial, and international comparisons indicate that regulation of genome applications is a global concern. With analysis of ancestry mapping business practices, medical DNA applications, and forensic uses of DNA in the criminal justice system, the book sheds light on the sociological results of “remapping race on the human genome.”

Features

  • Provides historical background on the human genome in the modern context of the social construction of race and ethnicity
  • Examines the use of overlapping racial-ethnic and geographical origin categories to situate ancestry, health risk, and criminal profiles in a stereotyped or discriminatory manner
  • Argues for a re-examination of genome research to avoid racialization
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Biohistorical Narratives of Racial Difference in the American Negro: Notes toward a Nuanced History of American Physical Anthropology

Posted in Anthropology, Articles, Health/Medicine/Genetics, History, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive, United States on 2016-07-31 18:47Z by Steven

Biohistorical Narratives of Racial Difference in the American Negro: Notes toward a Nuanced History of American Physical Anthropology

Current Anthropology
Volume 53, Number S5 (April 1, 2012) (Volume Supplement)
pages S196-S209
DOI: 10.1086/662416

Rachel J. Watkins, Associate Professor of Anthropology
American University, Washington, D.C.

This paper examines the scientific construction of racial differences through the lens of early twentieth-century bioanthropological studies of American Negro skeletal and living population samples. These studies, as well as the scientists who conducted them, are generally distinguished from one another based on their adherence to quantitative and/or qualitative measures of racial difference. However, these binary distinctions tend to obscure the rather complex processes of racial formation in which scientists and research subjects were engaged. Both racialist and nonracialist scholarship positioned American Negroes as products of white, African, and, sometimes, Indian admixture. As the singular label used in these studies connotes, “the American Negro” was also classified as a distinct racial type based on elements of skeletal and physical morphology. Studies reveal that multiple definitions and meanings of race were operating and being generated in the process of situating American Negroes in these seemingly opposed positions. Finally, I consider the implications of this discussion for developing critical histories of American physical anthropology and engaging contemporary public and academic discourse around race, health, and biological diversity.

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‘We Are All the Same, We All Are Mestizos’: Imagined Populations and Nations in Genetics Research in Colombia

Posted in Anthropology, Articles, Caribbean/Latin America, Health/Medicine/Genetics, Media Archive on 2016-07-29 20:16Z by Steven

‘We Are All the Same, We All Are Mestizos’: Imagined Populations and Nations in Genetics Research in Colombia

Science as Culture
Volume 23, Issue 2, 2014
pages 226-252
DOI: 10.1080/09505431.2013.838214

María Fernanda Olarte Sierra, Assistant Professor
Department of Design
University of the Andes, Bogotá, Colombia

Adriana Díaz Del Castillo Hernández, Independent Researcher
Consultoría en Estudios Sociales Sobre Educación, Salud, Ciencia y Tecnología, Bogotá, Colombia

In Colombia, as in other Latin American countries, current population genetics research is based on the understanding that Colombians constitute a mestizo nation, given the admixture process that took place between Africans, Amerindians, and Europeans during colonial times. The mestizo is a pervasive category used by geneticists to conduct, organise, and publish research studies that deal with the continent’s peopling process and the genetic makeup of its contemporary population(s). It is also the dominant imaginary for the Colombian population and a key nation-building ideology. By tracing how this category moves and is used across four Colombian genetics laboratories, it is possible to discern that despite its apparently clear-cut boundaries, the mestizo is contingent, contested, and flexible, allowing for multiple understandings and usages. This flexibility and multiplicity are visible in the quantification of genetic ancestry, the divisions of geographical location, and the understanding of gender. Such understandings allow one to think about a homogeneous nation (inclusive) that is simultaneously heterogeneous (exclusive); they provide multiple but not necessarily contradictory possibilities of being mestizo, allowing the coexistence of images of the nation that could otherwise seem contradictory; and they permit navigation around contested terms such as race, while simultaneously thinking of mixed races or racialised individuals. Finally, these flexible and multiple constructions of the mestizo (re)produce various subjects as ‘other’, whether they are women, the Indigenous, the black/dark, or the poor.

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Nation and the Absent Presence of Race in Latin American Genomics

Posted in Anthropology, Articles, Brazil, Caribbean/Latin America, Health/Medicine/Genetics, Media Archive, Mexico on 2016-07-29 19:30Z by Steven

Nation and the Absent Presence of Race in Latin American Genomics

Current Anthropology
Volume 55, Number 5 (October 2014)
pages 497-522
DOI: 10.1086/677945

Peter Wade, Professor of Social Anthropology
University of Manchester

Vivette García Deister, Associate Professor
Social Studies of Science Laboratory
National Autonomous University of Mexico

Michael Kent, Honorary Research Fellow in Social Anthropology
School of Social Sciences
University of Manchester

María Fernanda Olarte Sierra, Assistant Professor
Department of Design
University of the Andes, Bogotá, Colombia

Adriana Díaz del Castillo Hernández, Independent Researcher
Consultoría en Estudios Sociales Sobre Educación, Salud, Ciencia y Tecnología, Bogotá, Colombia

Recent work on genomics and race makes the argument that concepts and categories of race are subtly reproduced in the practice of genomic science, despite the explicit rejection of race as meaningful biological reality by many geneticists. Our argument in this paper is that racialized meanings in genomics, rather than standing alone, are very often wrapped up in ideas about nation. This seems to us a rather neglected aspect in the literature about genomics and race. More specifically, we characterize race as an absent presence in Latin America and argue that genomics in the region finds a particular expression of race through concepts of nation, because this vehicle suits the deep-rooted ambiguity of race in the region. To make this argument we use data from an ethnographic project with genetics labs in Brazil, Colombia, and Mexico.

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