Breathtaking

Asthma Care in a Time of Climate Change

2018
Author:

Alison Kenner

Breathtaking

People around the world are struggling to breathe. How do we care for asthma across environments that are increasingly unbreathable?

Now identified as a global epidemic, asthma demands an analysis attentive to its complexity, its contextual nature, and the care practices that emerge from both. Breathtaking is a sweeping ethnographic account of asthma’s many dimensions.

This elegant first monograph from The Asthma Files project is written simply for all audiences and provides five practical recommendations. Breathtaking is social science at its best: experiential, explanatory, critical, and providing ways forward. Alison Kenner herself is an active participant as community social-scientist and as partner to someone who suffers disordered breathing. She guides us vividly across scales and registers.

Michael M.J. Fischer, author of Anthropology in the Meantime

Asthma is not a new problem, but today the disease is being reshaped by changing ecologies, healthcare systems, medical sciences, and built environments. A global epidemic, asthma (and our efforts to control it) demands an analysis attentive to its complexity, its contextual nature, and the care practices that emerge from both. At once clearly written and theoretically insightful, Breathtaking provides a sweeping ethnographic account of asthma’s many dimensions through the lived experiences of people who suffer from disordered breathing, as well as by considering their support networks, from secondary school teachers and coaches, to breathing educators and new smartphone applications designed for asthma control.

Against the backdrop of unbreathable environments, Alison Kenner describes five modes of care that illustrate how asthma is addressed across different sociocultural scales. These modes of care often work in combination, building from or preceding one another. Tensions also exist between them, a point reflected by Kenner’s description of the structural conditions and material rhythms that shape everyday breathing, chronic disease, and our surrounding environments. She argues that new modes of distributed, collective care practices are needed to address asthma as a critical public health issue in the time of climate change.

Breathtaking

Alison Kenner is assistant professor in the department of politics and the Center for Science, Technology, and Society at Drexel University.

Breathtaking

This elegant first monograph from The Asthma Files project is written simply for all audiences and provides five practical recommendations. Breathtaking is social science at its best: experiential, explanatory, critical, and providing ways forward. Alison Kenner herself is an active participant as community social-scientist and as partner to someone who suffers disordered breathing. She guides us vividly across scales and registers.

Michael M.J. Fischer, author of Anthropology in the Meantime

Breathtaking is a sweeping ethnographic account of asthma and its treatments that expertly traverses questions of lived experience, medical technology, and critical ecology as they bear on the epidemic of disordered breathing. Beautifully written and poignant, this book makes a robust contribution to our understanding of the health effects of environmental degradation and climate change, deepens the critiques of biomedicalization, and heralds the promise of complementary and alternative medicine.

Anthony Ryan Hatch, author of Blood Sugar

Breathtaking is an engrossing read.

CHOICE

Breathtaking presents a compelling and very readable ethnographic overview of the ways that asthma is grappled with across a variety of 21st century American contexts. This book offers an insightful and multi-faceted account of a condition that affects so many around the world.

Somatosphere

Overall, Breathtaking takes asthma from the biomedical world, and using a multi-sited ethnography, traces connections between the experience of asthma, the environment and our bodies, allowing us to imagine new carescapes that could make the world more breathable.

LSE Review of Books

In the absence of swift and uncompromising action on the part of US legislators to combat climate change, Kenner advocates democratizing access to affordable health care; integrating breathing training into the doctor’s toolkit; and enacting policy, at all levels of government, to improve the indoor environments in which we spend the majority of our time.

H-Environment

Breathtaking

Introduction


1. Attuning to Asthma in Time and Place


2. Three Modes of Control as Asthma Care


3. Counting on Breath: Making Time with Respiratory Retraining


4. The Datafication of Care


5. Public Health Carescapes for Climate Change


Conclusion


Acknowledgments


Notes


Bibliography


Index