Life with a disease: retrospective and prospective considerations

Keywords: understandings of diseases, genealogy of discursive practices, biopolitics, bios/zōē
Language: In Latvian

The text outlines a genealogy of discursive practices as related to diseases in various times. Three chronotopes are discussed as notable explanations for current behaviour: the antique world, Renaissance, and modernism. Furthermore, the text looks at the connection between contemporary views of hygiene and humoral theory, and miasma, pointing out the possibility and necessity of sensorial history. The text also looks at the bacteriological paradigm, its dispositive and entwinement with biopolitics.

The text reminds of the practice of self-care, problematising the use of oneself and one’s flesh. Living with a disease means living with oneself. At the same time, it enables problematisation of contemporary medical practice, to show that it is not the disease itself which is in the foreground but rather social-political and economic questions.

The text was an opening speech at the plenary session of the history and philosophy sections of the 79th International Scientific Conference of the University of Latvia, “Life With a Disease. Social Experience and Transformation Processes in Crisis-Time Societies” in Riga, 23–24 February 2021.