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The Enculturated GeneSickle Cell Health Politics and Biological Difference in West Africa$
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Duana Fullwiley

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780691123165

Published to Princeton Scholarship Online: October 2017

DOI: 10.23943/princeton/9780691123165.001.0001

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Ordering Illness: Heterozygous “Trait” Suffering in the Land of the Mild Disease

Ordering Illness: Heterozygous “Trait” Suffering in the Land of the Mild Disease

(p.197) Chapter Six Ordering Illness: Heterozygous “Trait” Suffering in the Land of the Mild Disease
The Enculturated Gene

Duana Fullwiley

Princeton University Press

This chapter explores how “culture,” in the form of “Senegalese attitudes” that are seen as less than buoyant, has sometimes proven to be a barrier that Senegalese biomedical professionals propose as contrary to science on the sickle cell “trait” (heterozygous sickle cell, or HbAS). Yet they also see culture as mutable, or less than absolute, since they are attempting to “correct” people's thinking that the sickle cell trait also constitutes an illness state. In the biomedical parlance of the United States and France, they hope to convince people with the trait that they are simply (healthy) “carriers.” At many points in the field, it became clear that contrary to majority medical opinion in the United States, most Senegalese think of the heterozygous sickle cell trait as a potential disease and thus live with, and treat it, accordingly.

Keywords:   sickle cell trait, heterozygous sickle cell, Senegalese attitudes, HbAS, culture

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