The Columbia University Harriman Institute is hosting an online lecture by Anna Klepikova, Associate Professor in the Department of Anthropology at the European University at St. Petersburg and author of I Must Be A Fool (European University Press, 2018). The discussion will be moderated by Svetlana Borodina of the Harriman Institute). Both Klepikova and Borodina are RSW Research Affiliates and members of the RSW Disability Studies Working Group.
Anna Klepikova’s dissertation field research was conducted in two residential institutions for people with disabilities in St. Petersburg. Klepikova was inspired to study institutional disability care after watching an NGO volunteer recruitment ad about an orphanage for children with disabilities. She decided to learn more about the volunteers’ motivations and experience by joining them as a volunteer and participant observer for her dissertation research.
At the orphanage, Klepikova witnessed a conflict developing between the NGO volunteers and the nurses: a clash between two models of care on the practical level, and two versions of understanding disability on the ideological level. This disconnect resembled the conflict between Western humanistic pedagogics and a patriarchal discriminating approach to disability and difference. After a year, Klepikova transferred to volunteer at a similar institution for adults. There, she found a different conflict between the volunteers and medical staff due to the latter being responsible for various psychiatric restrictions, forced administration of sedative drugs, and involuntary hospitalizations. In this case, the conflict was between the social-constructionist and medicalized approaches to mental illness.
In this presentation, Klepikova discusses the differences and intersections in these polar approaches to disability care. Introducing her ethnographic material, she reflects on the nature of anthropological understanding that might form various grounds for solidarity.
For more information and to register: https://harriman.columbia.edu/event/work-of-care-anna-klepikova/