Todd MeyersNov 9, 2022
All That Was Not Her
Duke University Press 2022
While studying caregiving and chronic illness in families living in situations of economic and social insecurity in Baltimore, anthropologist Todd Meyers met a woman named Beverly. In All That Was Not Her (Duke UP, 2022) Meyers presents an intimate ethnographic portrait of Beverly, stitching together small moments they shared scattered over months and years and, following her death, into the present. He meditates on the possibilities of writing about someone who is gone—what should be represented, what experiences resist rendering, what ethical challenges exist when studying the lives of others. Meyers considers how chronic illness is bound up in the racialized and socioeconomic conditions of Beverly’s life and explores the stakes of the anthropologist’s engagement with one subject. Even as Meyers struggles to give Beverly the final word, he finds himself unmade alongside her. All That Was Not Her captures the complexity of personal relationships in the field and the difficulty of their ending.
Claire Clark is a medical educator, historian of medicine, and associate professor in the University of Kentucky’s College of Medicine.