Acknowledgements

In: Global Healing
Free access
Acknowledgements

A book of this breadth and depth would not have been possible without the generous support of colleagues, students, friends, and family from around the world and a plethora of backgrounds, interests, and professions.

The inspirations behind Global Healing were many. Most powerful – following my previous two single-authored major academic books on environmental humanities (literature and environmental crises), and on transculturation and imperialism, respectively, as well as my multiple (co)edited volumes and dozens of articles on a broad range of topics – was the desire to draw attention to and analyze heretofore unexplored resonances among literatures from Asia, Africa, the Americas, Europe, the Middle East, and Oceania regarding the global imperative of reducing the suffering caused by social responses to disease, suffering that often is more intense than that caused by the physical processes of health conditions themselves. Far from being integrated into communities of care where they are treated in ways that promote healing and enable wellbeing, people with adverse health conditions are all too frequently stigmatized, dehumanized, and silenced by society and their more immediate communities, health professionals, and even those closest to them. And individuals who care for those with adverse health conditions are regularly denied the support they need, their own contributions and struggles disregarded if not penalized.

Improvements in human health have been monumental over the past century, and there is much to celebrate, even as many conditions remain incurable and inequality and other injustices continue to contribute significantly to large scale health problems. Literature persistently reveals that no matter how sophisticated our medical technology and treatments, tremendous suffering will persist unless we shatter disease stigmas, humanize healthcare by fully implementing person-focused care, and prioritize care partnerships. Literature’s frequent focus on individual anguish amid broader economic and social dynamics (including inequality and violence) uniquely positions it to reveal the deeply penetrating damage caused by current practices and the pressing need to transform how we all prepare for and respond to crises in health.

I am thankful for the substantial funding I received for the extensive research and travel required for this book in the United States, as well as in China, Germany, Hong Kong, Japan, Korea, Malaysia, Norway, Singapore, South Africa, Taiwan, and Vietnam, from the Academy of Korean Studies (Competitive Research Grant AKS-2011-R20); Friedrich Schlegel Graduiertenschule, Freie Universität, Berlin (Visiting Research Fellowship); Association for Asian Studies (Northeast Asia Council Grant and Japan-United States Friendship Commission Grant); Asia Center Senior Faculty Research Grant (Dora and Y.L. Yang Fund; Thierry Porté Endowment Fund); Reischauer Institute of Japanese Studies; as well as the Harvard FAS Dean’s Distribution Funds. Generous support from Dean of Arts and Humanities Robin Kelsey (Harvard Tenured Faculty Publication Fund) and the Department of Comparative Literature (Harvard Studies in Comparative Literature) made possible the professional copyediting of Global Healing.

I have benefited greatly from the input and insights of the dozens of colleagues who have hosted my presentations on world/global literatures and the medical and health humanities in the United States, Asia, Africa, and Europe. Special thanks to Victor Fung and Jeffrey Cheah, for enabling me to share my research on aging with a diverse group of experts in Hong Kong and Malaysia, respectively; to colleagues at the University of the Witwatersrand, for giving me the opportunity to speak on my work in Johannesburg to an equally diverse group of specialists; to the Harvard-Yenching Institute, Arthur Kleinman, and Cheng Yu of Sun Yat-sen University for the invitation to teach in an invigorating medical humanities training program for medical students and health professionals in Guangzhou (China); to the Harvard-Yenching Institute and Tsinghua University (Beijing) for the chance to speak on medical humanities and world literature as part of a HYI-sponsored world literature training program; to Lu Peih-ying at Kaohsiung Medical University for giving me the occasion to share my research with health professionals and students in Taiwan; to Zhang Longxi at the City University of Hong Kong, and colleagues at Yonsei University (Seoul) and Academia Sinica (Taiwan), for the opportunity to present on global world literature and the medical/health humanities at their institutions; to Mette Hansen for the chance to speak at the University of Oslo on stigma and the medical/health humanities; and to Irmela Hijiya-Kirschnereit for the opportunity to present on world literature and medicine at Freie Universität Berlin.

Fellow panelists and audience members at any number of professional meetings including those of the American Comparative Literature Association, the Association for Asian Studies, the Modern Languages Association, and the Modernist Studies Association provided invaluable feedback at critical stages of the project, as did colleagues who attended my many talks on topics related to this book in the United States at Harvard, Brown University, Dickinson College, Duke University, Northeastern University, Stanford University, Washington University, and the University of Washington, among others.

Members of the Arts and Humanities Initiative at Harvard Medical School – especially Rafael Campo, David Jones, Suzanne Koven, and Lisa Wong – provided early inspiration for this book through their own work and by welcoming me to the initiative’s monthly meetings. I likewise benefited greatly from attending and later guest lecturing at Dr. Koven’s Literature and Medicine reading group at Massachusetts General Hospital, which brings together physicians, physician assistants, nurses, administrators, social workers, and other hospital staff every month for thoughtful discussions on literature and healthcare. I am thankful as well to the many physicians, nurses, and other staff members at Massachusetts General Hospital, Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Brigham and Women’s Faulkner Hospital, Ophthalmic Consultants of Boston, and other healthcare settings in many parts of the world whom I have gotten to know over the years, for the empathic person-focused care they have demonstrated throughout.

At Harvard, colleagues from across the university including in my home departments of Comparative Literature and East Asian Languages and Civilizations created the warm collegial environment so necessary for productive research and writing. One of the great pleasures of directing the Asia Center and transforming it into a fully-fledged international research center was the opportunity to work with such a diverse and distinguished group of faculty members from throughout Harvard’s Faculty of Arts and Sciences and professional schools, and I am thankful to them all for their inspiration and strong support and for sharing so generously of their time and expertise as together we made the Asia Center much more transparent, accessible, diverse, inclusive, and intellectually rigorous. Exceptional staff members across the university provided wonderful perspective, expert advice, and genuine kindness from which I also benefited significantly – I am particularly grateful to my neighbors at the Korea Institute, Reischauer Institute, Fairbank Center, and Regional Studies East Asia, as well as the staffs of Comparative Literature, EALC, and the Harvard-Yenching Institute, together with my assistant Julie Story. Special thanks as well go to David Damrosch, who gave key advice just as the project was taking off; Xiaoli Meng, for an early invitation to speak on statistics and stigmas for the Grand Finale of Statistics 303; Arthur Kleinman and David Jones, with whom I co-taught three stimulating Gen Ed courses on the Medical Humanities and from whom I learned so much about the field; Allan Brandt, for his deep insights into stigma, illness, and healing more broadly; and Emmanuel Akyeampong for a riveting workshop in Johannesburg on health and healthcare delivery for women and youth.

I am also thankful to Larry Bacow, Alan Garber, Judy Singer, Claudine Gay, Emma Dench, Robin Kelsey, Nina Zipser, and Bev Beatty for their thoughtful support and inspiring leadership throughout.

In addition to faculty and staff, another of the great pleasures of working at Harvard is the students. The undergraduates in my Medical Humanities, Literature and Medicine, and Disease, Illness, and Health through Literature General Education courses have been terrifically stimulating, and over the years, in class and at meals, they have helped me develop and refine my arguments. So too have my graduate student teaching fellows for these three Gen Ed courses and other graduate students in the medical/health humanities at Harvard with whom I have worked: Rita Banerjee, Nina Begus, Aurelien Bellucci, Guangchen Chen, Elena Fratto, Carrie Geng, John Kim, Xiaolu Ma, Jacob Meister, Aditya Menon, Yun Ni, Kathleen Ong, Serge Ryappo, Benny Shaffer, Luke Taylor, Bota Ussen, Alice Xiang, Miya Xie, Sunny Yudkoff, and Yanping Zhang.

I am also most grateful to the many (former) graduate students who provided invaluable proofreading of my translations from non-English sources or provided translations from languages I cannot read or with which I am less familiar. These (former) students are acknowledged individually within Global Healing, but I list them here as well: Manuel Azuaje-Alamo, Ceyhun Arslan (now at Koc University, Istanbul), Ilana Freedman, Daniel Majchrowicz (now at Northwestern), Xiaolu Ma (now at Hong Kong University of Science and Technology), Lana Jaffe Neufeld, Argyro Nicolaou (now at Princeton), Nicolas Roth, Will Tamplin, Miya Xie (now at Dartmouth), and Sunny Yudkoff (now at Wisconsin). Thank you as well to Irit Aharony for assistance with Hebrew translations and to Richard Delacy for so patiently teaching me Hindi and Urdu, as well as to my mother, Nora Thornber, for proofreading my German and Swedish translations. Unless otherwise noted, in this book translations from the Chinese, French, German, Japanese, Korean, Indonesian, Italian, Portuguese, Spanish, Swahili, and Swedish as well as classical Chinese and classical Japanese are my own.

Particular thanks to my primary research assistants, who over the years found for me sources for this project hidden deep in the libraries and the archives, both physical and digital, and were always patient with my many questions and my endless requests for scanning: John Kim (now at Bowdoin), Satoru Hashimoto (now at Johns Hopkins), Miya Xie (now at Dartmouth), and Kyle Shernuk.

I am very grateful to the two outside referees for their close reading of the manuscript and stimulating comments and to my editor Masja Horn, copyeditor Margaret Hogan, and the Editorial Board and staff at Brill for their expert editorial and production care.

Keven Halliday and his team at Halliday Construction have over the years created beautiful spaces for my ever-growing libraries as well as an expansive treetop study, the ideal place to think and write. I am so thankful for their professionalism, high standards, and good cheer.

While researching and writing this book I benefited greatly from the enthusiasm and perspectives of my sister-in-law Anne Havens Fuller and my three stepchildren and their families, world travelers all: Bill Havens and Julie Hunt; Carolyn Havens Niemann and Michael, Adam (and his wife Panayiota Kuvetakis), Jacob, and Matthew; and Kathy Havens Whitten and Emily and Nathaniel. My uncle Nors Josephson and his partner Olga Gudz – fearless global adventurers themselves – have been wonderfully supportive and inspiring. My parents Karvel and Nora Thornber, sister Carol Thornber, nephew Jay Thornber, and niece Kat Thornber have also been exceptionally encouraging and full of bons mots and good humor throughout, while Benedict Oteng has exemplified a standard of care, patience, and grace to which we all should aspire.

As always, my deepest thanks goes to my husband Tom Havens, whose eager reading for the past twenty years of chapters hot off the printer, encouragement now of my four huge scholarly projects and countless other academic endeavors, and zeal for discussing cepts large and small regardless of the hour or time difference, not to mention his own exceptional scholarly productivity and intellectual curiosity, made working on Global Healing even more of a pleasure, and whose ready wit, selfless and healing care, and boundless love bring ever more joy to my life.

This book is dedicated to my mother and to my late father, who passed away just as this book was going to press, loving parents both.