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Zones of social abandonment are emerging everywhere in Brazil's big cities--places like Vita, where the unwanted, the mentally ill, the sick, and the homeless are left to die. This haunting, unforgettable story centers on a young woman named Catarina, increasingly paralyzed and said to be mad, living out her time at Vita. Anthropologist Joao Biehl leads a detective-like journey to know Catarina; to unravel the cryptic, poetic words that are part of the "dictionary" she is compiling; and to trace the complex network of family, medicine, state, and economy in which her abandonment and pathology took form. An instant classic, Vita has been widely acclaimed for its bold fieldwork, theoretical innovation, and literary force. Reflecting on how Catarina's life story continues, this updated edition offers the reader a powerful new afterword and gripping new photographs following Biehl and Eskerod's return to Vita. Anthropology at its finest, Vita is essential reading for anyone who is grappling with how to understand the conditions of life, thought, and ethics in the contemporary world.
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Table of Contents

Introduction: "Dead Alive, Dead Outside, Alive Inside" PART ONE. VITA A Zone of Social Abandonment Brazil Citizenship PART TWO. CATARINA AND THE ALPHABET The Life of the Mind A Society of Bodies Inequality Ex-Human The House and the Animal "Love is the illusion of the abandoned" Social Psychosis An Illness of Time God, Sex, and Agency PART THREE. THE MEDICAL ARCHIVE Public Psychiatry Her Life as a Typical Patient Democratization and the Right to Health Economic Change and Mental Suffering Medical Science End of a Life Voices Care and Exclusion Migration and Model Policies Women, Poverty, and Social Death "I am like this because of life" The Sense of Symptoms Pharmaceutical Being PART FOUR. THE FAMILY Ties Ataxia Her House Brothers Children, In-Laws, and the Ex-Husband Adoptive Parents "To want my body as a medication, my body" Everyday Violence PART FIVE. BIOLOGY AND ETHICS Pain Human Rights Value Systems Gene Expression and Social Abandonment Family Tree A Genetic Population A Lost Chance PART SIX. THE DICTIONARY "Underneath was this, which I do not attempt to name" Book I Book II Book III Book IV Book V Book VI Book VII Book VIII Book IX Book X Book XI Book XII Book XIII Book XIV Book XV Book XVI Book XVII Book XVIII Book XIX Conclusion: "A way to the words" Postscript: "I am part of the origins, not just of language, but of people" Afterword Return to Vita Acknowledgments Notes Bibliography Index

About the Author

Joao Biehl is Professor of Anthropology at Princeton University. His website is Torben Eskerod is an artist and works as a freelance photographer in Copenhagen.

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