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Praspaliauskiene, Rima

Grant Type
Hunt Postdoctoral Fellowship
Active Grant
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Project Title
Praspaliauskiene, Dr. Rima, Independent Scholar, Oakland, CA - To aid research and writing on 'Enveloped Lives: Caring And Giving In Lithuanian Health Care' -Hunt Postdoctoral Fellowship

Preliminary abstract: The Hunt Fellowship will support the completion of a book manuscript 'Enveloped Lives: Caring and Giving in Lithuanian Health Care.' This book is an ethnography of how people practice health and care by engaging in ambiguous practices that some would define as informal and corrupt. It examines the relationship between caring, things and money. It focuses on how informal payments -- 'little white envelopes' - that the patients or their relatives give or feel compelled to give to doctors before or after treatment, sustained and maintained public health care in the times of economic shortages during socialism and during the fundamental transformations to capitalism in post-socialist Lithuania. Based on eighteen month of fieldwork research, this follows these envelopes as complex doctor-patient transactions, the nexus of relations, to learn about health and care at the intersection of neoliberal reforms and socialist fragmentations. Enveloped Lives traces the genealogy of the health care reform since 1990s, exploring how patients, doctors and caretakers encounter, perceive and carry out these ambiguous practices. This ethnography shows how envelopes became a form of care embedded in social relations and driven by webs of obligations. These practices are productive in sustaining the lives of doctors and have affective value for patients and doctors alike. They supplement public health care while making doctors reliant on patients' generosity. While the envelopes do not reduce social inequalities, they slow down significantly the transformation of public health care from the social function of the state to a business matter. Therefore, they might preclude the emergence of new inequalities that appear with the adoption of private health care and insurance regimes.