Vania Smith-Oka, "Becoming Gods: Medical Training in Mexican Hospitals" (Rutgers UP, 2021)


In Becoming Gods: Medical Training in Mexican Hospitals (Rutgers University Press, 2021), Vania Smith-Oka follows a cohort of interns throughout their year of medical training in hospitals to understand how medical students become medical doctors. She ethnographically tracks their engagements with one another, interactions with patients, experiences with doctors, and presentations of cases to show how medical students undergo a nuanced process of accumulating knowledge and practical experience in shaping their medical selves. Smith-Oka illuminates the gendered aspects of this process, whereby the medical interns’ gender informs the kind of treatment they receive from other doctors and the kinds of possibilities they imagine for their careers and areas of medical practice. She documents the lives of the interns during which time they develop their medical selves and come to understand the tacit values of medical practice. The book is full of descriptive vignettes and ethnographic details that make it accessible to undergraduate students. It would be of interest to those in medical anthropology, hospital ethnography, medical education as well as people interested in how expertise is acquired and developed. The book examines medical interns’ transformations through ordinary and extraordinary moments, through active and passive learning where they not only acquire new knowledge but also new ways of being.

Vania Smith-Oka is an associate professor in the Department of Anthropology at the University of Notre Dame in Indiana. She is the Director of the Health, Humanities, and Society Program at the John J. Reilly Center.

Reighan Gillam is an assistant professor in the Department of Anthropology at the University of Southern California.

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Reighan Gillam

Reighan Gillam is an Associate Professor in the Department of Latin American, Latino, and Caribbean Studies at Dartmouth College. Her research examines the ways in which Afro-Brazilian media producers foment anti-racist visual politics through their image creations. She is the author of Visualizing Black Lives: Ownership and Control in Afro-Brazilian Media (University of Illinois Press).
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