‘Life of Lola’
A commentary on graphic anthropology
In this paper I present an ethnographic comic that illustrates two points: the social life of diagnosis following newborn screening for the metabolic disorder MCADD, and the concept of ‘shadow habitus’ in relation to chronic illness. I then deconstruct and interrogate the process of creation behind the comic, asking what this reveals about knowledge creation and ethnographic practice. Using a three-part framework, I argue that a graphic narrative can show complex theoretical concepts in medical anthropology, that it is collaborative and relational, and that it is a tool for thinking critically through and about ethnography. I use this example to show how graphic anthropology opens and makes accessible new ways of thinking and framing illness, health and dis-ease – to ourselves, to our peers and to a non-academic audience.
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