About The Practice

A collaboration with St Antony’s Health Centre in Newcastle upon Tyne. 

Theoretical Directions

The Practice situates itself at the intersection of a host of forces and categories integral to health. Taking our bearings from critical scholarship on health and illness, including political economic analysis of health inequalities and anthropological formulations of structural violence, we understand health as a product of people’s emplacement in social and political systems. However, rather than insisting solely on this socio-political corrective to biological reductionism, The Practice takes a risk to speculate whether this form of critique might paradoxically risk reifying the very biologism it seeks to undermine.     

In socioeconomically deprived communities like those served by The Practice the influence of social forces on people’s health is all too obvious: either directly, through the scarcity of the necessities of life, or psychosomatically, through complex subjective mediations of life stressors. And yet, despite the clear socio-political aetiology of these conditions, the suffering of many of these patients always appears stained by insistent remainders that transcend the socio-political: by somatic complaints that do not fully correspond to their social causes, or by highly individual and particular psychical dynamics that complicate easy attribution.  

The Practice, therefore takes as its starting point a refusal to reify the unhelpful binaries—between socially-produced and organic illness, between physiological and psychosomatic symptoms—that so often lie at the heart of critical health debate. We ask, what new insights into health and illness become possible when we insist on this both/and? When we stay with the trouble of these entanglements of mind, body, social, and subjective? 

A cartoon drawing of the ReCoCo building showing lots of different things happening in each different room.

St Anthony’s Health Centre

Relevant academic publications

Proudfoot, Jesse. 2023. ‘The Dreamwork of the Symptom: Reading Structural Racism and Family History in a Drug Addiction’. Culture, Medicine, and Psychiatry 47 (4): 961–81. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11013-023-09820-w. 

Proudfoot, Jesse. 2019. ‘Traumatic Landscapes: Two Geographies of Addiction’. Social Science & Medicine 228 (May): 194–201.