chapter  6
Revealing Hope in Urban India: Vision and Survivorship Among Breast Cancer Charity Volunteers
ByALISON MACDONALD
Pages 14

This chapter 1 describes particular modalities of creating hope among breast cancer volunteers in urban India. It draws on research with women who have suffered with breast cancer and now participate as survivor volunteers 2 in cancer charities and nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) in Mumbai. Among this group of women, I examine how vision and the strategic revelation by volunteers of their status as breast cancer survivors emerges as a therapeutic tool within spheres of lay activism. I consider this practice in light of anthropological studies that highlight the primacy of sight as permeating Hindu sociality and informing multiple forms of existential practice surrounding religion, spirituality and faith. In doing so, I illustrate how the visual , as a process of embodied interaction, precipitates a form of disease identifi cation whereby volunteers attempt to inspire hope and courage in other cancer patients. This takes particular salience in Mumbai where the demands of accessing care within a rudimentary medical landscape together with the privileging of kinship and community relations come to frame, and often constrain, individual experiences of living with cancer in particular ways. This chapter examines how such complexities interface with the lay breast cancer activist sphere in Mumbai as it unfolds in tandem with the emergence of novel practices surrounding psychosocial support and group sharing in Western-style support groups. By charting the complexities and tensions imbued in local philanthropic efforts to increase participation in oncological psychosocial interventions, I trace ethnographically how the affective revelatory maneuver of seeing survivors constitutes a form of biomedical solidarity and a particular form of activist practice.