Current Institutional Affiliation
Professor & Chair, Anthropology, University of California / Los Angeles

Award Information

International Dissertation Research Fellowship 2002
Institutional Affiliation (at time of award):
Anthropology, University of California / Los Angeles
Culture, Experience, and Chronic Pain on Yap

This research will set out to investigate from a psychological and medical anthropological perspective the cultural patterning of chronic pain perception on the island of Yap, Federated States of Micronesia. While the focus of this study will most generally be directed toward an exploration of the attribution of personal and cultural meaning to the subjective experience of chronic pain, the investigation will also be grounded in a much broader examination of local healing practices and attendant cultural beliefs surrounding health and illness on the island. In particular, the study will focus upon a cluster of constructs that may potentially serve to inform an individual's understanding and experience of pain; namely, culturally informed conceptions of well-being, illness, self, sensation, body and emotion. A central goal of this study will be to explore the extent to which the internalization and transmission of these cultural models, narratives, and interpretive frames serve to mediate an individual's subjective experience of pain. Most significantly, this study will set out to systematically explore those moments of ambiguity wherein pain "breaches" conventionalized modes of personal and cultural understanding. By closely examining patterns of action and narrative surrounding the real-time unfolding of the "dysphoric moment," this investigation will seek to elucidate the ways in which personal and cultural meanings help to define pain as a salient object of attention and expression.