Academic journal article New Formations

Michael Schillmeier, Eventful Bodies: The Cosmopolitics of Illness

Academic journal article New Formations

Michael Schillmeier, Eventful Bodies: The Cosmopolitics of Illness

Article excerpt

Michael Schillmeier, Eventful Bodies: The Cosmopolitics of Illness, Farnham, Burlington, Ashgate Publishing 2014, 196pp, 54 [pounds sterling], cloth

The intensification of recent healthcare reform rhetoric suggests it is not only budgets that are in deficit. Michael Schillmeier's new book contends that something else is in short supply; that is, an understanding of the events of illness. In other words, what is missing is a relational or cosmopolitics of illness. The extended opening chapter thus provides a piercing critique of David Cameron's speech about the societal 'epidemic' of dementia. What is a progressively more ordinary problem of a prolonged old age becomes, in Cameron's grandiloquence, a societal abnormality. In short, 'forgetting bodies' become ill bodies; deprived of normality (p3).

Schillmeier unpicks Cameron's biopolitical positioning of dementia as a 'quiet crisis' that needs to be made louder; in effect, turning it into a 'national crisis' (pi4). The cumulative statistical evidence situates an irrepressible epidemic for which 'the nation is unprepared' (pi2). Dementia becomes a killer brain condition; one of the greatest enemies of humanity (and a costly burden), which, alongside cancer, needs to be cracked! Yet, as Schillmeier argues, although the events of illness may well 'unbutton' a world that is taken for normal (pp1, 161)--taking us all by surprise--they also draw attention to persistent social relations in a world in which illness is occurring every second of the day.

Schillmeier's astute theoretical analysis does not simply stick with biopower, but articulates the cosmopolitics of illness, through e. …

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