Securing a Brain: The Contested Meanings of Kuru

  • Warwick Anderson

Abstract

I want to consider the practices of a knowledge community in order to understand how values are reproduced or nuanced through interaction. Values are the shared cultural standards that integrate as well as guide and channel the organized activities of the members of a subgroup. But what happens when the shared cultural standards of neuroscientists are in competition with those of another knowledge community?

Keywords

Glycerine Expense Encephalitis Refrigeration Glean 

Preview

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Endnotes

  1. 1.
    On the scientific field as the locus of a competitive struggle with the goal of protecting competences, see Pierre Bourdieu, “The Specificity of the Scientific Field and the Social Conditions for the Progress of Reason,” Social Science Information 14 (1985): 19–47.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. 3.
    Neuropathology was, after all, the first medical neuroscientific discipline, and the neurosciences have continued to expand through neuropathological means; see Franz Seitelberger, “The Role of Neuropathology in the neurosciences,” in F. Clifford Rose and W. F. Bynum, eds, Historical Aspects of the Neurosciences, (New York: Raven Press, 1982), 265–272.Google Scholar
  3. 4.
    R. M. Berndt to R. F. R. Scragg (director, Public Health Dept), 9 July 1957, in Judith Farquhar and D. Carleton Gajdusek, eds., Kuru: Early Letters and Fieldnotes from the Collection of D. Carleton Gajdusek (New York: Raven Press 1981), 89–90.Google Scholar
  4. 5.
    D. C. G. to J. E. Smadel (associate director, NIH), 15 March 1957, in D. Carleton Gajdusek, ed., Correspondence on the Discovery and Original Investigations of Kuru: Smadel-Gajdusek Correspondence, 1955–58 (Bethesda, MD: National Institute of Neurological and Communicative Disorders and Stroke 1976), 50.Google Scholar
  5. 6.
    R. M. Berndt, “A Cargo Movement in the Eastern Central Highlands of New Guinea,” Oceania 23, no. 1 (1952):48.Google Scholar
  6. 7.
    B. Malinowski, The Sexual Life of Savages in North-Western Melanesia (London: E. Routledge and Sons 1929), 137. The classic study is still E. E. Evans-Pritchard, Witchcraft, Oracles, and Magic among the Azande (Oxford: Clarendon Press 1937).Google Scholar
  7. 8.
    Berndt, “Cargo Movement,” 49, 50.Google Scholar
  8. 9.
    Berndt, “Cargo Movement,” 44.Google Scholar
  9. 10.
    Berndt, “Cargo Movement,” 44.Google Scholar
  10. 11.
    R. M. Berndt, “Reaction to Contact in the eastern Highlands of New Guinea,” Oceania 24, no. 3 (1954): 191.Google Scholar
  11. 12.
    R. M. Berndt, “Reaction to Contact in the eastern Highlands of New Guinea,” Oceania 24, no. 3 (1954): 191.Google Scholar
  12. 13.
    A sense of what Steve Shapin has called “virtual witnessing” (“Pump and Circumstance: The Literary Technology of Robert Boyle,” Social Studies of Science 14 (1984):481–520). On ethnographic authority, see James Clifford, The Predicament of Culture: Twentieth Century Ethnography, Art, and Literature (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press 1988).Google Scholar
  13. 14.
    V. Zigas to J. Gunther, director, PNG Public Health dept. (until early 1957), then assistant administrator of PNG, 26 December 1956, in Farquhar and Gajdusek, Kuru: Early Letters, 1.Google Scholar
  14. 15.
    D. C. G., “Introduction,” in Farquhar and Gajdusek, Kuru: Early Letters, xxiii.Google Scholar
  15. 16.
    D. C. G., “Introduction,” in Farquhar and Gajdusek, Kuru: Early Letters, xxii.Google Scholar
  16. 17.
    D. C. G., “Introduction,” in Farquhar and Gajdusek, Kuru: Early Letters, xxiii.Google Scholar
  17. 18.
    See William Coleman, Yellow Fever and the North: The Methods of Early Epidemiology (Madison: University of Wisconsin Press 1987).Google Scholar
  18. 19.
    D. C. G. to R. F. R. Scragg, 20 March 1957, in Farquhar and Gajdusek, Kuru: Early Letters, 22.Google Scholar
  19. 20.
    D. C. G. to J. E. Smadel, 3 April 1957, Kuru: Early Letters, 29.Google Scholar
  20. 21.
    D. C. G. to J. E. Smadel, 8 July 1957, Kuru: Early Letters, 87.Google Scholar
  21. 22.
    R. M. Berndt, “A ‘Devastating Disease Syndrome’: Kuru Sorcery in the Eastern Central Highlands of New Guinea,” Sociologus 8, no. 1 (1959): 11n.Google Scholar
  22. 23.
    D. C. G. to F. M. Burnet, 13 March 1957, Kuru: Early Letters, 6. Ian Wood was the director of the Clinical Research Unit, a division of the Hall Institute, located in the Royal Melbourne Hospital.Google Scholar
  23. 24.
    See, for instance, Charles Darwin’s story about Jemmy Button in Voyage of the Beagle (London: 1844). Also see Bernard Smith, European Vision and the South Pacific 1768–1850 (Oxford: Clarendon Press 1960).Google Scholar
  24. 25.
    D. C. G. to J. E. Smadel, 25 August 1957, Kuru: Early Letters, 121.Google Scholar
  25. 26.
    D. C. G. to J. E. Smadel, 25 August 1957, Kuru: Early Letters, 67.Google Scholar
  26. 21a.
    V. Zigas and D. C. Gajdusek, “Kuru: Clinical Study of a New Syndrome Resembling Paralysis Agitans in Natives of the Eastern Highlands of New Guinea,” Medical Journal of Australia 2 (1957):745–54;Google Scholar
  27. 21b.
    D. C. Gajdusek and V. Zigas, “Degenerative Disease of the Central Nervous Syndrome in New Guinea: The Endemic Occurrence of ‘Kuru’ in the Native Population,” New England Journal of Medicine 257, no. 30 (1957):974–78CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. 21c.
    D. C. Gajdusek and V. Zigas, “Kuru: Clinical and Epidemiological Study of an Acute Progressive Degenerative Disease of the Central Nervous System among Natives of the Eastern Highlands of New Guinea,” American Journal of Medicine 26, no. 3 (1959):442–469.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. 28.
    D. C. G. to J. E. Smadel, 6 August 1957, Kuru: Early Letters, 103.Google Scholar
  30. 29a.
    D. C. Gajdusek and C. J. Gibbs, “Attempts to Demonstrate a Transmissible Agent in Kuru, Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis and Other Subacute and Chronic Nervous System Degenerations of Man,” Nature 204 (October 1964):257–259;CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. 29b.
    D. C. Gajdusek, C. J. Gibbs, and M. P. Alpers, “Transmission of Experimental ‘Kuru’ to Chimpanzees,” Science 155 (1967):212–214.Google Scholar
  32. 30a.
    J. D. Mathews, “A Transmission Model for kuru,” Lancet 1 (1967):821–25;CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. 30b.
    J. D. Mathews, R. Glasse, and S. Lindenbaum, “Kuru and Cannibalism,” Lancet 2 (1968):449–452.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. 31a.
    Anthropologists who studied the Fore after Gajdusek looked at the effect of the disease of kuru on society; see, for example, S. Glasse, “The Social Effects of Kuru,” Papua and New Guinea Medical Journal 7, no. 1 (1964):36–37Google Scholar
  35. 31b.
    Shirley Lindenbaum, “Sorcery and Structure in Fore Society,” Oceania 41, no. 4 (1971):277–87;Google Scholar
  36. 31c.
    E Richard Sorenson, Edge of the Forest: Land, Childhood, and Change in a New Guinea Proto-Agricultural Society (Washington, D.C.: Smithsonian Institution Press 1976). But see Berndt, A “Devastating Disease Syndrome” for initial resistance to the medical model.Google Scholar
  37. 32.
    M. Bakhtin, The Dialogic Imagination, ed. Michael Holquist, trans. Caryl Emerson and Michael Holquist (Austin: University of Texas Press, 1981).Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 1992

Authors and Affiliations

  • Warwick Anderson

There are no affiliations available

Personalised recommendations