12 April 2024

FRAGILE FUTURES: Ambiguities of Care in Burkina Faso

Cover of Fragile Futures

Associate Professor Helle Samuelsen has recently published her monograph FRAGILE FUTURES: Ambiguities of Care in Burkina Faso. The book is published as a part of the series Epistemologies of Healing from the publisher Berghahn Books.

The monograph is based on Helle Samuelsen’s many years of engagement in Africa and especially her ethnographic research in Burkina Faso has played a crucial part for her understanding of how people navigate in and around a public healthcare system whose services often elude them. Fragile Futures explores the therapeutic landscape from the perspective outside of the clinic, highlighting the importance for medical anthropology to renew its engagement in studies of treatment seeking with a particular focus on the intersections between indigenous care practices and biomedical health care services.

Based on cases and narratives from families, Samuelsen explores how rural citizens of Burkina Faso address ambiguities of sickness and care and how they try to secure a decent future for themselves and their families. In seven chapters, she examines how people actively engage with the ambiguities of handling sickness and care in a state governed healthcare system, as well as how agency and hope are deployed in peoples’ quest for a livable life. The book shows that caring for small children and the family in Burkina Faso is hard work, and that care work includes tending relationships with both human and non-human beings.

Although the health infrastructure in Burkina Faso is weak and many citizens feel neglected by the state, Samuelsen argues, that the state continues to play an important role in people’s engagements and hopes for a better future. In a global health perspective, the book illustrates how ‘ordinary’ care practices in Burkina Faso are shaped by different household- , national - and global politics within a political and economic framework of an unstable state.

The book is available as hard copy and ebook. Read more on publisher Berghahns website.