Medical Materialities investigates possible points of cross-fertilisation between medical anthropology and material culture studies, and considers the successes and limitations of both sub-disciplines as they attempt to understand places, practices, methods, and cultures of healing. The editors present and expand upon a definition of ‘medical materiality’, namely the social impact of the agency of often mundane, at times non-clinical, materials within contexts of health and illness, as caused by the properties and affordances of this material. The chapters address material culture in various clinical and biomedical contexts and in discussions that link the body and healing. The diverse ethnographic case studies provide valuable insight into the way cultures of medicine are understood and practised.

chapter 1|20 pages


A genealogy of medical materialities

part I|62 pages

Flesh and fluids

chapter 2|13 pages

Of flesh and mesh

Time, materiality, and health in surgical recovery

chapter 3|15 pages

From attitudes to materialities

Understanding bowel control for colorectal cancer patients in London

chapter 4|17 pages

The life course of labia

Female genital cutting in Somaliland

chapter 5|15 pages

On ‘being the problem’

The ontological choreography of the infertile male

part II|61 pages

Infrastructures of care

chapter 6|13 pages

Blood, lungs, and passports

chapter 7|14 pages

‘Time for tea’

Tea practices and care in a British hospice

chapter 8|14 pages

‘Regenerative medicine event’

Cells, soybeans, and a repurposing of ritual in Japan

chapter 9|18 pages

The form that flattens

part III|69 pages

Health publics

chapter 10|16 pages

On becoming a vegetable

Life, nature, and healing for a hylozoic cult

chapter 11|15 pages

Making the body local

The suburban shitizen

chapter 12|15 pages

Of smoke and unguents

Health affordances of sacred materiality

part IV|13 pages


chapter |4 pages


Medical materialities, (post)genomics, and the biosocial

chapter |7 pages


Medical materialities, collections, and artefacts