Culture, Medicine, and Psychiatry

, Volume 35, Issue 2, pp 262–284 | Cite as

From Healing to Witchcraft: On Ritual Speech and Roboticization in the Hospital

  • Adrienne Pine


Healthcare Information Technology (HIT), touted as a panacea by U.S. political actors ranging from Newt Gingrich to Barack Obama, is central to emerging forms of healthcare governance which Holmes et al.—in their critique of the institutionalization of magical thinking brought about by Orwellian techno-Newspeak—have provocatively labeled fascistic. Drawing from data collected over 3 years of working with and teaching continuing education (CE) courses for thousands of registered nurses as lead political educator for the California Nurses Association/National Nurses Organizing Committee (CNA/NNOC), I argue that HIT is an integral component of a broader technological restructuring of healthcare and thus society, both of which are part of a social discourse that is tied to a transformative system of ritual speech, with profound implications for healthcare work, patient health, and democracy.


Healthcare Information Technology Nursing Labor restructuring Ritual speech Best Practices 



My sincerest thanks first to Don DeMoro, who introduced me to this topic and whose brilliant analyses of healthcare restructuring have shaped my own. Many thanks also to Seth Holmes, Angela Jenks and Scott Stonington for their hard work putting this issue together; to Byron Hamann and Rachael Stryker for extensive editing help; and to Nancy Scheper-Hughes and Philippe Bourgois for their central roles in shaping my scholarship as a critical medical anthropologist and for being a continuous source of inspiration and support.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of AnthropologyAmerican UniversityWashingtonUSA

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