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Hospital domestics: Care work in a Kenyan hospital

In Kenya, as elsewhere in Africa, it is common for caregivers to live alongside patients who are admitted to hospital. Ethnographic material from the wards of a district hospital in western Kenya shows that in this context proper care for patients required the mobilization of the extended family and the care and attention of hospital staff. Caring practices created biomedical and domestic ward spaces, with patients the objects of two divergent models of care, which the author calls “familial” and “biomedical,” aligned to these spaces. Caregivers and hospital staff emphasized the boundary between these models of care to comment on and (re)produce concepts of responsibility and obligation to others and to legitimate restrictions that they placed on the care they gave. The author argues that it is helpful to think about this hospital as an institutional space produced through a composite of mobile spatial practices, including both biomedical and domestic practice.

Categories: Caregivers
Geography: Kenya
Reference: Brown, H. (2011). Hospital Domestics: Care Work in a Kenyan Hospital. Space and Culture, 15(1), pp.18-30.