Academic journal article New Formations

Eventful Bodies: The Cosmopolitics of Illness

Academic journal article New Formations

Eventful Bodies: The Cosmopolitics of Illness

Article excerpt

Michael Schillmeier, Eventful Bodies: The Cosmopolitics of Illness, Farnham, Burlington, Ashgate Publishing 2014, 196pp, L54, 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' (p14). The cumulative statistical evidence situates an irrepressible epidemic for which 'the nation is unprepared' (p12). 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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