Cancer: Knowing, Naming, Moving

The non-disclosure of a cancer diagnosis is relatively common in India. Studies have shown that many cancer patients are unaware of their disease. But how exactly is non-disclosure working in a hospital setting? What are patients told when they are not told that they have cancer?

Black and white photo of a smiling man (Carlo Caduff) with glasses
Photo: King's College London

At stake in the question of non-disclosure is the very idea of the patient and the way a disease can or cannot be known. From an anthropological point of view we might wonder to what extend we want to measure every relation against that of knowing. This essay is based on a year of fieldwork in India’s largest public cancer hospital, Tata Memorial in Mumbai. It offers an account of cancer as a form of indirect knowledge.



Anne Kveim Lie is Associate Professor at the Departement of Community Health and Global health at the University of Oslo.


Carlo Caduff is Associate Professor in the Department of Global Health & Social Medicine at King’s College London. He received his PhD in Anthropology from the University of California at Berkeley.   Carlo's research explores the politics of bioscience, biomedicine and biosecurity in the United States and India. His first book - The Pandemic Perhaps - was published by the University of California Press in 2015 and translated into German by Konstanz University Press in 2017. He is co-editor of a Current Anthropology special issue on New Media/New Publics. Research articles have appeared in journals such as Cultural Anthropology, Current Anthropology, Cambridge Anthropology, BioSocieties and Annual Review of Anthropology. In 2017, Carlo received a Wellcome Trust Investigator Award to start a new ethnographic research project on cancer care in India. He serves as Director of the Global Health and Social Medicine Doctoral School and Deputy Director of the Culture, Medicine & Power Research Group (CMP). He is Associate Faculty at the India Institute and Visiting Faculty at the Graduate Institute Geneva.


Published Apr. 15, 2019 10:00 AM - Last modified July 15, 2019 2:11 PM